Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsenal play Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Marc Schaefer. MICHAEL COX Arsenal’s trip to Germany comes just a fortnight after Dortmund’s 2-1 victory at Emirates Stadium on matchday three, so Arsene Wenger’s players should be fully aware of their opponents’ strengths.
The key feature of the reverse fixture was the prominence of the full backs. With Arsenal still without Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - players capable of staying wide and stretching the play - the narrowness of the midfield forced Dortmund to respond in turn, allowing the full backs to repeatedly scamper forward into space.
"Dortmund only had 43 per cent of possession at the Emirates, illustrating how they don’t need to dominate possession in order to triumph, such is their skill on the break"
Arsenal’s goal was scored following a Bacary Sagna cross - the Frenchman also assisted the opener against Liverpool on Saturday - while Kieran Gibbs also got plenty of opportunities to overlap too.
But the same was true of Dortmund’s full backs, and the key player was Kevin Grosskreutz, the stand-in right-back throughout Luaksz Piszczek’s long injury absence.
He was extremely energetic and repeatedly charged into space, and although his decision-making was inconsistent, he eventually provided the cross for Robert Lewandowski’s late winner.
Dortmund only had 43 per cent of possession at the Emirates, illustrating how they don’t need to dominate possession in order to triumph, such is their skill on the break.
Arsenal must also beware of Dortmund’s famous ‘gegenpressing’, which involves them attempting to win back possession immediately after they’ve lost the ball. Marco Reus’ quick closing down effectively created their opener at the Emirates, for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Dortmund are likely to be unchanged from the first match. Jurgen Klopp could, however, decide to bring in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the right.
He’s an astonishingly quick winger who would be a more adventurous option than Jakub Blaszczykowski, although it’s likely the Pole will continue, with Aubameyang used as a sub again.
It’s also worth remembering that Dortmund have enjoyed an extra day’s rest than Arsenal, having thrashed Stuttgart 6-1 on Friday evening, with Lewandowski bagging a hat-trick.
MARC SCHAEFER - DPABorussia Dortmund have yet to lose a single point at home this season, and they have been soaring ever since their 2-1 win at the Emirates.
They won their prestigious derby against arch-rivals Schalke 04 on the road 3-1, before going on and beating Stuttgart at home last Friday with a phenomenal 6-1 win.
"Dortmund and Arsenal have a lot of respect for each other, which will lead to a controlled attacking performance from the home side"
The way Jurgen Klopp’s team played in the second half made this game a season highlight. Their confidence right now is sky-high. The fact that Klopp, who was approached by some Premier League clubs in the summer, has extended his contract until 2018 shows that BVB is still developing and he still believes that there is more to come.
Just like in the first leg, Dortmund will play a 4-3-2-1, but unlike in the Bundesliga, they will put more emphasis on the defence.
Winger Marco Reus and striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 win against Stuttgart, are always the focal points, but on Wednesday the spotlight will be on midfielder Sven Bender, who has the assignment to stop Mesut Ozil, and Armenian-born Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Mkhitaryan, while in his first season with the Yellow and Blacks, has already become the heart of the Borussia attack, which is at the moment the most successful in the Bundesliga. They have scored 31 goals in just 11 games, seven more than Bayern Munich. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Dortmund is challenging Pep Guardiola's side for top spot in the Bundesliga table.
Dortmund and Arsenal have a lot of respect for each other, which will lead to a controlled attacking performance from the home side, just like in the first leg at the Emirates.
In comparison to the power-football Dortmund is currently showing in the Bundesliga, they are very likely to approach this game a little bit more cautiously.
But Arsenal should not only watch out for their opponents on the pitch - more than 65,000 fans in the stands are well known for their influence on the game. The Gunners would not be the first team to become a little unsettled by the crowd, which is among the loudest in Germany.
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