Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb: Inside Track

By Rob Kelly


“We are now in a mission which is not impossible, but a mission that does not allow you any margin for error. That is one advantage as the task is very clear, let’s go and win our games.” - Arsene Wenger


After a Champions League campaign that has been anything but straightforward, Arsenal find themselves with a straightforward equation: win or bust.


For while it's arguable that Bayern Munich’s match against Olympiacos is of paramount importance on Tuesday night - if the Germans win, it offers the Gunners a lifeline - Arsene Wenger is keen to stress the need for focus.

His players must forget what is going on in Bavaria; instead they must tackle the task in hand and beat a Dinamo Zagreb side that caused them real problems on a difficult night in Croatia on matchday one. Only then will what happens at the Allianz Arena come into play.

“We know that the only advantage of the situation we are in is that we cannot calculate or start to think should we do this or that,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“I believe that we were absolutely unlucky in our first game there because we played with 10 against 11 and we were a bit unlucky with Olivier Giroud’s sending off.

“We are now in a mission which is not impossible, but a mission that does not allow you any margin for error. That is one advantage as the task is very clear, let’s go and win our games.”

Team news

Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Welbeck (knee), Rosicky (knee), Coquelin (knee), Arteta (calf), Walcott (calf), Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) Dinamo Zagreb:

While Wenger will be without Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta against Zagreb, he remains confident in his side’s ability to produce when their backs are to the wall. They will need all their resilience if they are to somehow engineer an escape from Group F.

“That is our strength,” the manager said. “It is certainly down to our quality but also our togetherness and the fact that we can face these kind of challenges and relish it.

“We have another opportunity to show that. We now that we need to win and Bayern to beat Olympiacos, so let’s cross our fingers. First let’s take care of our job and then cross our fingers that Bayern do their job as well.”


Coquelin’s absence with a knee injury is undoubtedly a problem for Wenger, but it opens up an opportunity within his squad.

Mathieu Flamini is the natural choice to step into the breach, and he is expected to get the nod against Dinamo Zagreb, but the boss has also talked up Calum Chambers’ credentials.


Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers



“I believe Calum has the qualities,” Wenger said. “He’s quite complete defensively and offensively. He has a big stature, good technique, good vision as well.

“Of course he has now played in defensive positions so I think he can develop in the future in a position like that.

“It is very important to balance our team, so the defensive role in this position and the efficiency of it is very important because we are a team who like to go forward. Every team needs a strong, reliable player in every defensive aspect.”


Wenger admits that his players were caught by surprise in Zagreb by the hosts’ quality and defensive resolve.

Opta Stats

No side has conceded more goals in the final 15 minutes in the Champions League this term than Dinamo Zagreb (3), while no team has scored more than Arsenal (3)

Alexis has been directly involved in four of Arsenal’s six Champions League goals this season; scoring once and claiming a career best three assists

Dinamo Zagreb have not won any of their last 11 away games in the Champions League (D2, L9), failing to find the net in eight of those games

Their main attacking outlet was Junior Fernandes, a Chilean international who hails from the same town, Tocopilla, as Alexis. A livewire forward with plenty of pace and trickery, he caused problems all night and headed in the second goal.

But Fernandes will not be the only threat at Emirates Stadium, and Wenger says his side have learnt a lot from the defeat at Maksimir Stadium.

“They are a team who always have the best players in their country and when you see the number of players of quality that Croatia produce, it makes them very dangerous,” he said.

“We have learnt that in our first game. They are very resilient, they played very deep defensively and we had more of the ball even when it was 10 v 11.

“We were caught on the counter-attack a little bit and that will be the same scenario. We will be against a team that can defend well.

“At home we can move the ball quicker, we can have the advantage of feeling strong at home and the way we want to play is absolutely clear. Like we play in the Premier League, we want to win and score goals.”



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