Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal

Dortmund first team coach Jürgen Klopp this week became the latest manager to display praise and support for wounded deer Arsene Wenger, whose Arsenal side has made an abysmal domestic start to the term.

"Arsene Wenger is one of the most impressive coaches", gushed Klopp, who saw his Dortmund team suffer a 2-1 home defeat to Hertha Berlin on Saturday. "His Arsenal team has been playing very well for years and he has done a great job".

"They have a very good team who can beat anyone".

Klopp expects Arsenal to approach tonight's match at the BVB Stadion without fear, despite their poor start to the Premier League season.

"They play very attacking football but it does not matter who plays for them, we have to focus on us. 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 and have to work to make space and impose our own game"

Arsenal's first league win of the season came on Saturday against a Swansea side that made them work hard for the three points. Andrey Arshavin's opportunistic strike just before half time could have quite easily been cancelled out in the second half were it not for The Swans' failings in front of goal.

Wenger knows that Saturday's win was a step in the right direction. "We are trying to get better with every match. We must get consistency", he said.

However, the Frenchman is also aware of the dangers that the German champions pose, and singled out 19-year-old wonderkid Mario Götze as the player to watch. "Götze is maybe the best young German player", said Wenger. "We have to control him and take good care of him"

Speaking candidly about how Group F shapes up, Wenger admits it could have been easier for the North London club. " They play a little bit like Arsenal they play offensive and fast. I did not want Dortmund in the draw, there were a lot of weaker category 4 teams and so I was a little bit disappointed about drawing Dortmund".

Gotze will return to Dortmund's starting line-up after missing the defeat to Hertha Berlin at the weekend, while Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker are likely to make their European debuts for Arsenal.

Despite the 76-times-capped German Mertesacker being included, Arsenal's defence lacks stability. Injury woes and lack of squad depth saw Wenger forced into naming a back four for the game at Old Trafford that had never before played together. Awful communication and farcical attempts to play the offside trap meant they leaked eight goals.

With both managers cautious of their opponents' attacking threat, and the home side likely to be prepared to settle for a point, 'The German Arsenal' versus 'The English Dortmund' could be a disappointing, cagey affair.

I can see a 0-0 draw tonight, but not without incident. Maybe a second penalty fluffed in a row for Robin Van Persie, or a late red card.