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Monday, 12 September 2011

Borussia Dortmund (a) preview

Wojciech - in for a busy night again

The Champions League gets under way tomorrow night and the boys are already in Dortmund preparing for our first match. Arsenal have taken just the 18 players to Germany so nobody better get sick overnight. The big news from the travelling party is that Aaron Ramsey is not among them after apparently picking up an injury in training this morning. With Gervinho and Alex Song coming back in to the squad Francis Coquelin is the other player from Saturday to miss out. It's not clear who would have not travelled if Ramsey was fit, but I suspect Park Chu Young would have been staying in London.
I must admit I continue to be seriously non-plussed at the continued absence of Alex Chamberlain. Given that Arsenal don't spend much money (in fact we make money, of course) it seems ridiculous to me that our most expensive signing of the Summer is not deemed worthy of a place in the match day squad. If I was Stan Kroenke I think I'd be asking questions, but I very much doubt he even knows how we got on at the weekend, let alone who any of the players are.
On to the game itself and I expect to see the same back four as we had against Swansea. Alex Song will come in to the midfield in place of Ramsey, and I think Frimpong will continue alongside him - especially after that inexplicable early substitution on Saturday. Mikel Arteta will play his first European game for the Club in the attacking midfield position. With Robin Van Persie leading the line Arsene has only one real decision to make and that is which of the two anonymous wide men from Saturday will lose their place. Gervinho seems a cert to start on one side, but it will be interesting to see whether it's Arshavin or Walcott that makes the cut. Arshavin was taken off on Saturday, while Walcott played the whole game. My personal preference would be for Walcott to play, simply because of his pace and the outlet it can provide on the rare occasion that he realises it's his main asset. 
Borussia Dortmund provide the sternest group stage opposition we've faced in a number of years. It's absolutely ridiculous that they found themselves in pot four of the draw. In Mario Gotze they have one of the rising stars of European football. As I said earlier I think that Frimpong and Song will both play. Any team with tactical nous would have them both sitting in front of the back four for such a tough away trip, but this is Arsene Wenger's Arsenal so I am very worried. Dortmund have not made the greatest start to their season, but the Westfalenstadion will be full tomorrow night and Arsenal will come under real pressure. Wojciech Szczesny will need to produce another dominant performance if we are to come back from Germany with any points. It really is the sort of fixture that George Graham's Arsenal would have relished, and the fans would have been confident about. It's time for Arsene to get some tactics and a game plan based on playing the opposition, and not just on passing the ball to death.

I won't be in a position to review the game tomorrow at any point this week. As a result of work pressures I won't post again until I preview the Blackburn game on Friday.

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