Arsenal versus Borussia Dortmund has become an annual festival in our European fixture schedule over the past four seasons, but none will be more important than this one.
It’s been 13 games since we played them in that shadow-chasing opening group game in September and seeing how awful we’ve been of recent – just 4 wins since then in all competitions and without any in our last three, not to speak of back-to-back League defeats – the imperative will be to put in a solid shift today…
…not just a shift, but a WIN.
And how exactly are we going to achieve that?
- Koscielny IN!
How exactly have we survived with Nacho Monreal and Per Mertesacker in the center of defence? It’s been incredibly jittery watching teams approach our defence as we mostly have looked like a plastic heated beyond the reach of Hooke’s law. But with the preferred central partnership to be restored, a bit of balance will surely be restored to our back four. Hopefully, nothing will be strained or sprained in the warm-ups, and nothing will make Wenger fancy retaining Monreal in the middle today.
- No Complacency
Dortmund’s position in the BundesLiga is an absolute mirage in comparison with their outstanding form on the continent, lying so deep within the boundaries of relegation waters but Wenger is not novice and would know better than take them lightly. A gutless 2 -2 draw at Paderborn at the weekend may give suggestion that the Klopp boys are not going to be so much of a threat today, considering they also lost star man Marco Reus in the process. But Dortmund have enough quality ‘unknowns’ to do damage to any team, and the return of Ilkay Gundogan to their midfield machinery is no small boost. It’s either we are fully switched on or we could get swept away, sicut erat.
- Can we score a first half goal?
Forget the laxity that overcame us against Anderlecht but it’d be key for us to go into the break with any kind of lead today, as we should have done against United. Having already qualified for the next round, the likelihood is that Klopp will have his team set up in much similitude to the tactics of last season’s visit where they majorly let us play, while waiting to pounce. With the array of chances which we are SURE to create from Alex and Alexis, Welbeck – or Sanogo if he gets the nod – has to do better than huff and puff to make good of whatever we produce in the opening exchanges. That way, we give them reason to want to open up a little more, which should only work more to our advantage.
- Can we close up shop?
It seemed unbelievably amateurish that with a one goal lead, and about 13 minutes to go, we only had Nacho Monreal in front of the young Swansea boy, Barrow, when he got the ball around the center circle in the lead up to Sigurdsson’s free-kick equalizer. Wenger can no more claim to be aloof as to why “nobody was there” as it must be his duty to let the players know when to slow the game down if we already have a vital lead.
- Rosicky for Wilshere?
So sorry is the sight of Rosicky seating on the bench, game after game, without any opportunity to use his vivacity in pushing the Arsenal from midfield to attack but in Wilshere’s injured absence, perhaps his time should come. Only by close examination of his birth certificate would you realize he is 34 but that doesn’t strip anything from the energy he is still capable of bringing into the midfield, chasing down opponents or giving them a torrid time chasing him. He must be the most reliable compliment to Ramsey and Arteta, to combat Gundogan, Sahin and Bender, while giving aid to the pace of Alexis and the Ox going forward.
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