Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side take on Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener on Tuesday. To find out more we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Arsenal need little introduction to Borussia Dortmund, having been drawn against the Bundesliga runners-up for the third time in the last four seasons.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have evolved from last year, however, and Arsenal must prepare for a different attacking threat.
The change is primarily because of Robert Lewandowski’s departure to Bayern Munich. The Polish striker was brilliant at spearheading Dortmund’s attack, acting as both a penalty-box target, and someone who could drop deeper and link up play.
However, Dortmund now have more attacking options, having recruited no fewer than four forwards in the transfer window, hoping quantity will adequately replace quality.
"Klopp has been experimenting more with different formations this season"
Leading the line could be Ciro Immobile, who finished as Serie A’s top goalscorer with Torino last season. In spite of his name, the Italian is a pacey striker who likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender, and his work in deeper positions can also be impressive. He is much shorter than Lewandowski, however, and therefore isn’t such a target for crosses.
He’s been joined by Adrian Ramos, an ultra-pacey attacker capable of playing on the left, the right or through the middle. A dribbler who roars past opponents with ease, the possibility of playing Ramos, Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang together as a front three is a terrifying prospect in terms of raw speed.
Klopp has also re-signed Shinji Kagawa after two underwhelming years at Manchester United. The Japanese playmaker excelled as a counter-attacking No 10 under Klopp, and like fellow returnee Nuri Sahin, will hope he can revitalise his career back in Dortmund. Klopp has also taken a punt on Ji Dong-Won, once of Sunderland, who seems like an obvious Plan B as a taller alternative.
The only non-attacker signed by Klopp is Matthias Ginter, who can operate in midfield or at centre back. A highly-composed player who was part of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad in the summer, he’s been used in defence so far and is already a commanding presence.
Whereas Dortmund have used 4-2-3-1 in recent meetings against Arsenal, Klopp has been experimenting with different formations this season, using a midfield diamond on the opening day 2-0 defeat to Leverkusen, where Dortmund struggled with the opposition’s pressing.
On that evidence, Arsenal should close down high up the pitch.
However, last year’s famous 1-0 victory at Dortmund, sealed with an Aaron Ramsey goal, was a rare example of Arsenal spending the majority of a game on the back foot - the number of clearances, and the low number of shots, shows it was a classic ‘smash and grab’ win.
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