Borussia Dortmund – Arsenal (Champions League)
Come Wednesday night we are all in for a Champions League treat. Borussia Dortmund will host Arsenal at the Signal Iduna Park. Two of the most respected and renowned football managers of the world, with total opposite philosophies and personalities, go head-to-head. In common they have the love for the game. But as Klopp pointed recently, Wenger is like a maestro leading an orchestra and he is more of a lead singer of a metal band looking to make some noise.
Klopp’s Dortmund absorbed a lot from English football. The game has a high pace, lively, driven combat that goes on until the very last minute. To this the German Manager added deadly counter-attacks and high pressure. The result is an explosive and entertaining to follow squad. Much like their Boss. When it comes to the national league, Borussia Dortmund are second with 28 points, only one shorter than leader Bayern Munich, 9 wins, 1 draw and a loss. Just last week they netted six times and conceded one from Stuttgart. Dortmund has the best attack (31 hits) and the top scorer of Bundesliga, Lewandowsky with 9 goals. The Champions League however is proving to be a bigger challenge. Half the way through in Group F and three teams remain locked on 6 points. Dortmund lost in Naples and then had two successful visits to Marseille and North London. The German need to confirm the ambition and effectiveness they showed at the Emirates two weeks ago. And for that Jurgen Klopp requires an in-form Robert Lewandowsky to be his usual self. Like he did with that late winner the last time Borussia Dortmund visited Arsenal. Midfielder Sebastian Kehl returned to practice but is still unavailable. Ilkay Gundogan and Piszczek are out of Wednesday game.
Probable lineup: Weidenfeller – Grosskreutz, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Bender, Sahin – Blaszczykowsky, Mkhitaryan, Reus – Lewandowsky.
Arsenal‘s 2-0 win over Liverpool was the perfect response to being knocked out of the League Cup by Chelsea. The Gunners are leaders of the Premier League, five points clear of the competition. They had but a moment to enjoy it and back to work they went. Borussia Dortmund is right around the corner and there’s a visit to Old Trafford next. By November’s end the wicked will have time to rest but not just yet. Keep focus, don’t indulge, that was Arsène Wenger’s clear message to his men in the weekend’s after-match. There is a lot at stake here. After the third round in this Group F’s run three squads sit at the top of the table with 3 wins and a loss. Who will be the one to untie the knot? Assuming Marseille is the weakest link the points the others gather when facing each other will prove essential to define those going forward and the one that is dropped to Europa League. Arteta came back from suspension against Liverpool and played an important role in keeping the ball flowing in Gunners’ midfield. Defender Kieran Gibbs limped off from that game and is doubtful. So is Jack Wilshere, with an ankle problem. Mathieu Flamimi and Theo Walcott are speeding their recovery and should be available for playing Manchester United next Sunday.
Probable lineup: Szczesny – Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna – Ramsey, Arteta – Cazorla, Ozil, Rosicky – Giroud.
The decisive moment is coming and those willing to be in the Champions League last 16 need to show their A game. Were Napoli to succeed over Marseille – a probable outcome – and Dortmund and Arsenal reach a stalemate then the Italians would climb their way to the top of Group F’s table. Is that a credible scenario?