Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Dortmund vs Arsenal: Match Preview

Preview | Pre-match conference | Team news

The last time I saw Arsenal play at Westfalenstadion, it turned out to be one of my best moments as an Arsenal supporter. To be under the cosh and yet snap out an important win in a difficult stadium was absolutely fantastic. There were  a lot of wins last season where we were faced with a tough battle and nicked it, but the Dortmund one felt especially sweet.

We have an easier Dortmund tonight, though. One stripped off Lewandowski, Reus, Gundogan, Sahin and Hummels. Much like City three days ago, we're facing a top team without plenty of its top players. Unlike Saturday, we should be taking advantage of that.

Defensively, we're desperately short. Debuchy has been ruled out for a reported 3 months, and Monreal has been another confirmed absentee as well. Bellerin's made the plane to Germany to add up the numbers. Now, I like him and I'm happy that he's been given a chance to perform, but let's not pretend he's not an inclusion out of force. Wenger's weird choice to accumulate only six defenders was courting disaster, and so it has proved.

Midfield and forwards provide plenty of depth, and invariably, options. I think this is one of those games I'd like to see a Rosicky or Chamberlain start, for that's the point of having quality in depth. You can't keep overplaying Ramsey and Sanchez when you have fresher - if not better - options in reserve.

The 4-1-4-1 worked well against Man City, but trying that again is risky. I hope we try a safer 4-2-3-1 this time around. Dortmund are well-known for incredibly high pressing. If we leave our DM alone, he might lose the ball cheaply in the middle of the park.

Klopp is one of those managers who likes a high-pressing game. Instead of playing slower footballers, we should look to counter their philosophy by pressing them. I'd love to see a lineup of Szczesny - Bellerin - Mertesacker - Koscielny - Gibbs - Arteta (as DM) - Wilshere (CM) - Cazorla (CAM) - Rosicky (RW) - Chamberlain (LW) - Welbeck.

Sanchez was monstrous on Saturday, but he's played every game so far. I love his high-intensity pressing game and it could be particularly useful tonight, but I fear he might do his hamstring if he keeps playing thrice a week. Oxlade-Chamberlain is an excellent alternative to him.

While the both of them may not be playing just as well, I feel Ramsey and Ozil should be benched as well. Both need to be rested rather than dropped, because aside from them being off-form, they have also played too many games. Arteta had a great game the last time we went to Signal Iduna Park, while Flamini isn't as reliable as him. I really think that if Flamini can refine his game a bit more he'd be a very good defensive midfielder, but it is what it is I guess.

More than results, I hope our performances start to come together. We actually have a great attack and some great attacking options in midfield, but we haven't found the right formation or tactical approach to make it work. I seriously doubt Wenger is the man to make us "click", but I still hope that he finds a way around it.

It has to be said, though, if we line up with the same formation and positioning as on Saturday, we could be in for a shocker. Ozil on the left is an interesting experiment, but Dortmund away is too big an occasion to continue that. 4-1-4-1 is a huge gamble away from home, especially against a Klopp side that can surround Arteta, rob him of possession and storm down a new-look defence.

Wenger, in the presser, already hinted that we'd see more or less the same lineup as on Saturday. When asked about rotating the squad, he said:

"No, not necessarily. We have recovered well."

I hope we win this game, but if Wenger lines up with the same formation and players, it's hard to see that happening.

Good luck to the boys, though. Most of them seem a committed lot, and I hope they pull out something from Germany. Come on Arsenal!

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]

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