Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Dortmund are visiting the Emirates for the third time in four seasons, but there have been significant changes to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
"The major reason for [their] drop in performance is the departure of centre forward Robert Lewandowski"
Dortmund are currently hovering above the Bundesliga relegation zone, and the major reason for the drop in performance is the departure of centre forward Robert Lewandowski, who volleyed the winner against Arsenal last season.
Lewandowski was a prolific goalscorer but also excellent at linking play, and much like Liverpool post-Luis Suarez, Dortmund have replaced quality with quantity, and haven’t yet adapted.
Ciro Immobile was Serie A’s top goalscorer with Torino last season and offers speed in behind, while Adrian Ramos is a pacy, versatile forward often used from the bench. They’ve struggled in the Bundesliga so far, although both have managed three Champions League goals.
Meanwhile, Shinji Kagawa has returned from Manchester United to play in his favoured No 10 role, and looks much happier back at Dortmund.
In midfield, Klopp has options. Jakub Blaszczykowski is an old-fashioned speedy right winger, Henrikh Mkhitarayan an intelligent, goalscoring No 10 who excels in the final third, while Nuri Sahin, Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan are combative and technical players who break up play and start attacks immediately.
Injury problems over the last year mean Dortmund’s previously impenetrable defence has looked weaker. There’s much less cohesion, particularly in terms of the offside line.
Nevertheless, Dortmund boast some talented individuals, with World Cup winners Mats Hummels and Matthias Ginter both modern, ball-playing centre backs, plus Neven Subotic and Sokratis Papastathopoulos as more old-school stoppers.
At full back, Lukas Piszczek has suffered from fitness problems but at his best is a superb, energetic right back, while left-sided Marcel Schmelzer is more steady but plays his role effectively.
Despite their league position, Dortmund haven’t been playing badly - they’ve been dominating games without scoring, a feeling Arsenal know well.
Klopp’s side are always compact and cohesive. The attackers start the defence with good pressing, and the defenders start the attacks by playing excellent passes, particularly into Kagawa. Arsenal must guard against the counter-attack.
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