The ‘serious business’ portion of the season is here, and it starts tonight with the visit of Borussia Dortmund to the Emirates Stadium. With many saying Arsenal have had an easy start to the season, playing only the smaller teams, it is how the Gunners perform over the next few weeks against opposition such as Dortmund, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United that they will be rated as contenders.
Dortmund come into this game in great domestic form, just 1 point behind rivals Bayern Munich. Dortmund have however scored more goals that Bayern, and have coped well with the loss of their star midfield man Mario Gotze, who moved to none other than Bayern for £31.5 million in the summer.
The German club, who lost the Champions League final last season to Bayern, by a margin of 2-1, will be looking to reach the final again this season. There are a lot of similarities between Arsenal and Dortmund in recent seasons, with Dortmund having to sell off their best players, and come out of financial irregularities to winning the Bundesliga. Arsenal, on the other hand have gone through a transition phase, with the new stadium, and also having to sell their best players to rivals.
Dortmund have made some good signings over the summer, such as the £25 million capture of Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhthar Donetsk, the £12 million signing of forward Pierre Emerick Aubameyang from Saint Etienne, and the £9 million signing of defender Sokratis Papasthapoulos from Werder Bremen.
It is set up for an exciting night of football, of two sides with so much footballing talent on offer. Arsenal, currently sitting on top of the Premier League, against an exciting young Dortmund side, narrowly second in the German Bundesliga.
Two seasons back, Arsenal emerged with a draw from the Westfallenstadion in Germany, after a late equalizing goal from Dortmund’s Ivan Perisic, while winning 2-1 at home courtesy a brace from Robin van Persie.
Arsene Wenger will have some job to do with the team selection, now that he has plenty of midfielders to choose from. Despite the absence of Mathieu Flamini, he will have to decide which 5 to start from Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla and Rosicky. Rosicky will definitely relish the chance to play against his former club, while the tantalizing prospect of Ozil and Cazorla is too hard to avoid.
Mathieu Flamini is ruled out of the game as a precaution, while Walcott, Podolski and Chamberlain remain out of action Dortmund have some injury problems, with Lukasz Piszczek and all action midfileder Ilkay Gundogan out for the long term. Sebastien Kehl and Jonas Hoffman face late fitness tests. The trio of Marcel Schmelzer, Marco Reus and Sven Bender made their returns from injury recently in a 1-0 win over Hannover.
This is how I expect the two teams to line up.
Dortmund are fast, exciting and enterprising. Arsenal should stick to their tactics, and attack from the word go, just like they had done against Napoli. It is all set for an exciting game of football.
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