Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Dortmund vs Arsenal: Match Preview

It's Dortmund vs Arsenal tonight at the Westfalenstadion - a game which will have a significant impact on Group F, and one we should look to get a positive result out of. After losing to Dortmund at the Emirates, we need to go for a win if we want to finish the group at the top.

Which is why Arsene Wenger says that his team will be gunning for all 3 points:

"We will have a positive attitude in our game, in our approach to the game. That’s what makes football great as well but Dortmund is a very positive side, we are a very positive side so at least you have the guarantee that the two teams will try to win the game."

It's a bold decision by the manager and the team - because we all remember what had happened the last time Arsenal tried to take 3 points against Dortmund. And for a team tired after Liverpool happened and travelling across the continent, we might be much more susceptible on the counter. I'm not saying that we shouldn't go for 3 points in this game, I'm saying that we need to exercise caution to our determination. Getting no points here and Napoli defeating Marseille (which seems more than likely) will mean that our qualification hopes will be in real hot water, leaving no margin for error at all.

The Westfalenstadion intimidates me, and it will certainly intimidate the players much more than it affects me. This is one of the games that may just define our season - and I know that our players won't be as fresh as we would've liked, but they need to understand the gravity of the situation and get 3 points, whether by hook or by crook. For me, this match carries much more significance than the Manchester United game, coming up on Sunday. Losing at Old Trafford would still keep us on top of the table by 2 clear points, but losing against Dortmund would mean that we would almost certainly have to hope for second - and we know how that turned out last year.

In team news, Jack Wilshere has stayed in London due to his ankle inflammation, but we still have a kind of an injury boost. Gibbs and Gnabry are declared completely fit and have travelled to Germany for this crucial Champions League game, while Flamini has a good chance to be fit for Manchester United. And while Wenger has said that Walcott and Podolski will be back after the international 'break', there have been some suggestions that Theo could make it on Sunday - which would be a huge boost. Having Flamini and Walcott fit for Old Trafford would mean that our squad gets a bit of a breather for Sunday, and that should give the starting XI much more incentive to give their all tonight.

Speaking of team news, it seems that the exact XI that beat Liverpool seems set to start today. I feel that they are good enough to at least take a point from Westfalenstadion, and that should be our minimum requirement. Ozil didn't really have such a good game at the Emirates on Saturday, aside for that assist for Ramsey's goal. However, the manager has heaped praises on him, saying:

“[He has brought] technical quality, vision and his absolute desire to play collectively in a very strong way. He is a player who has only one master, that is football. He does what the game demands, his ego does not stand in the way of his game, all the great players have that.”

Well chosen words by the manager to big up one of our most influential players on the pitch, who will undoubtedly look to impress on his home soil.

I find it really hard to predict this game. An Arsenal loss does seem likely, because this team is tired and didn't have a proper answer to their tactics in the last Matchday. However, this Arsenal side have a tendency to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the Champions League when most unexpected - just ask Bayern Munich. A draw wouldn't be bad at all, but it would mean that we would need victories against Marseille and Napoli. It's a really tough game to call, this.

I guess we'll find out tonight.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )