Will Europe bring solace to Arsenal?
Arsenal may be struggling domestically but they can book their place in the last 16 of the European Champions League when they play Borussia Dortmund.
The game which will be played at the Emirates on Wednesday evening comes in the wake of a difficult run in the Premier League for the Gunners. Having just lost to Manchester United in the weekend, Arsenal languishes in 8th position.
The Gunners would be cursing their dramatic collapse in the earlier group match against Anderlecht. Arsenal were leading 3-0 and looked all but through to the next round, only to ship three goals in the final half hour. Though they picked up a draw, it was one of those days when a draw looked worse than a loss.
What followed later was more alarming with the Gunners losing in Premier League to Swansea and United. It even led the club’s majority shareholder Alisher Usmanov to strongly question Wenger. There was an equally strong reply from Wenger but everyone knows that it is performance on the pitch that matters.
Dortmund’s problems are no better as they are currently struggling to move up the relegation battle. Injuries haven’t helped Jurgen Klopp but he is struggling to help Dortmund raise their game in the Bundesliga.
Champions League, though, seems to bring the best out of Dortmund. The 2012-13 runners-up won all their four matches sealing their place in knock-outs. And, if the Gunners are expecting any leniency from the Germans, Klopp put those expectations to bed.
Injuries for both teams
Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny for this match. Both the players picked up injuries in the weekend. Wenger would be ruing the absence of Wilshere especially since the midfielder is feisty and could have been an asset in this match. Laurent Koscielny is back after recovering from an injury and may be recalled. Theo Walcott is still out with injury while Olivier Giroud is out of Arsenal squad for Europe.
Dortmund’s injury list is bigger and the latest addition is Marco Reus. The influential midfielder sustained ankle ligament injury during the match against Paderborn. Klopp will not have his star man back until the New Year. There are doubts on the availability of Mats Hummels, Sven Bender, Nuri Sahin and Jakub B?aszczykowski too.
Statistics (Courtesy: Opta)
- Dortmund have a positive goal difference of 12, which is the second best record ever after four games in the groups stages of Champions League.
- Dortmund have won their last five matches in the Champions League which includes a 2-0 home win over Arsenal
- Only Galatasaray managed to score against Dortmund in their last five matches
- After winning six consecutive matches against German opponents till November 2011, Arsenal lost their next four in a row at home.
- Dortmund started their league campaign with four wins in a row for the first time in their history. The last time they won three group matches in a row, which was in 1996/97, they went on to win the trophy.
Game within the game!
An interesting byline for the match is Klopp. With Wenger nearing the end of his tenure, the question these days is about who will succeed Wenger. And Klopp would certainly be at the top of that list. With calls from fans for Wenger to resign, Klopp can push his credentials further by a strong performance tonight against his potential suitors.
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