Later this evening Arsenal goes head to head with the reigning German champions, Borussia Dortmund.
But before all that, let’s sum up today’s news other than those regarding the Champions league.
First off, Arsene Wenger believes that football and society as a whole would suffer should teams like Man Ctiy and Chelsea be allowed to frivolously throw petroleum money at players they wish to purchase. Holding a degree in Economics, believe Arsene when he says that this exorbitant amount of money being spent has unbalanced teams in the footballing world as a whole.
“People feel football has been untouchable, but that will not last. I am convinced that Europe will go into a huge financial crisis within the next three weeks, or three months, and maybe that will put everything into perspective again.”
In better news, Henri Lansbury has signed has signed an extension to his contract. I highly rate him as a player, and truly hope that this means he would be given a proper chance next season. This news is absolutely music to my ears. Let’s hope that his performance carries on improving so that Wenger has no choice but to select the youngster when he returns from loan.
On to today’s main point.
Instead of the usual 25 men squad traveling, Arsene has opted to take only 18 squad players with him to Germany. These is due to the injuries that have besotted Arsenal since the start of the season. Included in the squad is Arteta, Mertesacker, Benayoun, Andre Santos and Park Ju Young. Full squad list can be viewed here.
Tonight’s game also sees us without our manager on the touchline once again, due to the ruling of evidence-ignoring-UEFA. The Arsenal boss was understandably displeased with the ruling, and took pot shots at UEFA in this interview.
“I think I’ll go to the stands straight away when I arrive tonight. Until I go to the stadium there is no problem. I am at least allowed to sleep in the same hotel as my team. There is no difference until you arrive at the stadium.”
The odds of Wenger being fined and suspended by UEFA for the comments above are 1:1. Watch this space for more. C**ts.
Wenger has also explained his decision to go for Mertesacker, citing the German’s experience as a important element. The german’s experience should be a factor in tonight’s match as well, as Mertesacker has prior experience in playing against Dortmund in the German league. Knowing how they play would hopefully aid Mertesacker in stopping Dortmund’s attack
The Germans are quietly confident in their home ground as well. They believe that Arsenal’s attacking style would suit them well, as it opens up the game. Dortmund coach however is wary of the threat we might pose to them.
“I think it is good for us that Arsenal play attacking football”, said Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp. “The problem is that they have so much quality that we have to be very careful. But we are prepared. We are capable of defending against this kind of team.”
It should be noted that despite their preference to play attacking football, Dortmund has only conceded 8 goals at home in last season’s Bundesliga. They have a mean defense to back up their attacking play, and their defensive unit of Subotic and Hummels should provide Van Persie and Co with a good challenge this evening.
Knowing nothing of Dortmund, I took the time to watch the highlights of Dortmund last match before tonight’s game, so as to analyse the playing style and danger of Dortmund. You can watch the highlights here too.
The highlights shows that Dortmund loves to play with a high back line, and their game is based at a fast attacking pace. They have players capable of taking shots from range, and possess good crossers of the ball too. In this match, they showed that they were dangerous with set pieces, coming close once, and scoring their only goal of the match once.
However, Dortmund showed a weakness in their backline. The defenders at Dortmund showed a lack of pace, and playing a high line could see players like Walcott run free easily, should the right pass comes along. The backfour also seem to lack concentration, failing to mark Hertha Berlin players on many occasion, though Hertha Berlin players wasted those chances with wildly hit kicks, or they were otherwise denied by the crossbar.
The danger man of Dortmund happens to be Mario Goetze. Despite his tender age, the 20 year old has been the fulcrum of Dortmund’s attack. The young midfielder has good ball control, an array of passes, and poses a threat in front of goal as well. The key to stopping Dortmund would be to stop Goetze. He would either be deployed on the right wing, or as an attacking midfielder.
The game plan has to start from the back. I think Wenger might start with the same back four as he had against Swansea, as Santos is still not match fit. The two center backs have to win any aerial dual when it comes to defending set pieces. This is where Mertesacker’s height should play an important role.
Gibbs still needs to cut down his lapse in concentration, and reduce the space allowed to Dortmund. In the event that Goatze does start on the right wing, Gibbs’ pace would come in handy, and if the youngster is able to play with full concentration, he should be able to deal with any threat down the left side with relative ease.
In midfield, we should see Song starting alongside Arteta and Frimpong. Song’s role in this match is perhaps the most important. He has to be that holding midfielder who is able to break up Dortmund’s play, and stop Goatze, or whoever is playing in the hole, from providing services to his team mates. Frimpong, with his abundant energy,should play as the box to box midfielder, providing back up to Song when needed, and maurading into the opposition half when the opportunity arises. The youngster is still on the learning curve though, and should he start, must learn not to commit stupid fouls.
Up front, Van persie, as always, would be leading the line. I am inclined to start Walcott to exploit the lack of pace Dortmund’s back four seem to have. Furthermore he has been scoring goals in the Champions league this season too. Another option would be to put Arshavin on the right of Van Persie. Gervinho would most definitely be starting. The Ivorian is fresh from not playing over the weekend, and his trickery and directness would be helpful, and could potentialy cause Dortmund’s backfour a headache.
Hence, it is my forecast that the team would be something like this:
Szczesny, Sagna, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Arteta, Song, Frimpong, Gervinho, Van Persie, Walcott
These is no easy match, and despite my optimism that Arsenal should always win, no matter who is the opponent, a draw would be a good result tonight. Playing away from home is never easy, and add to that the fact that this is a squad still trying to gel together.
However, as they always say, if Arsenal clicks they could beat any team in the world. So here’s to hoping that would happen, if not, my prediction for tonight’s game would most probably be a 1-1 draw. Fingers crossed I am wrong. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!