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Arsenal vs. Borussia Dortmund: Prediction, Team News and Key Battles

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal celebrates as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 24, 2016

Arsenal’s fairytale start to the season could get a whole lot better against Borussia Dortmund.

Arsene Wenger’s side—who currently sit atop the Premier League—are playing some of the club’s best football in years. As summarised by Jack Wilshere’s terrific team goal in the 4-1 Premier League win over Norwich, the Gunners are on song and fearless.

Juergen Klopp will know this. Dortmund cannot afford to slip up after losing their opening Champions League fixture to Napoli and travel to the Emirates needing a huge performance.

 

Arsenal Team News

Although Aaron Ramsey came off the bench to net yet another goal against Norwich, he did so at the expense of Mathieu Flamini, who exited the field with concussion. The French midfielder will miss the game as he recovers from the knock, as confirmed by John Cross of the Mirror.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Alexander Tettey of Norwich City calls for help after a challenge with Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Londo
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Theo Walcott’s injury problems appear to have worsened, also reported by Cross. The English winger is now expected to miss Arsenal’s next three games, revealed by Wenger in the aforementioned report:

He had a setback. He had to stop, to jog again, I don’t think we will see him against Dortmund, nor Crystal Palace nor Chelsea.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby continue to suffer with long-term injuries, while Lukas Podolski is currently recovering from a hamstring injury that was expected to keep him out for 10 weeks at the end of August, per BBC Sport.

Yaya Sanogo is also unlikely to appear since returning from September's international duty with a back injury, as reported by The Independent.

 

Borussia Dortmund Team News

Injury problems have played a major role in Dortmund's early-season struggle for momentum, as confirmed by club captain Sebastian Kehl before the team's recent clash with Hannover, reported by Goal:

The atmosphere in the dressing room is not at its best at the moment. It's true that we have to get fit again before the difficult weeks ahead of us. Everyone is trying their hardest.

Marco Reus, Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender all played in the 1-0 Bundesliga win after shaking off recent problems.

NAPLES, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 18:  Sven Bender (R) of Borussia Dortmund competes for the ball with Cristian Maggio of SSC Napoli during the Uefa Champions League Group F match between Napoli and Borussia Dortmund at Stadio San Paolo on September 18, 2013 in N
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Marcel Schmelzer suffered a torn hamstring at the end of September and could only manage a place on the bench against Hannover, per Goal. The German international could be called back into Klopp's lineup to face the Gunners.

Ilkay Gundogan remains on the sidelines and hasn't played since Dortmund's 4-0 thrashing of Augsburg, per WhoScored. His back injury, as reported by Sky Sports, continues to throw up a major problem in Klopp's midfield.

Lukasz Piszczek will certainly miss the tie and is likely to be on the recovery table for another two months after undergoing a successful hip operation in July, per the Bundesliga's official site.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Head Coach Jurgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund during the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

 

Key Battles

Bacary Sagna vs. Marco Reus

Marco Reus played frighteningly well during last season's Champions League trip to Manchester City. The German star has the pace and technical ability to worry any team in the world and will be key to Dortmund's counterattacking moves against Arsenal.

Both teams can dominate possession, but it's the effectiveness of either side's explosive players that will make the difference. Dortmund boast lightening pace with Reus playing alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but it's the German's clinical finishing ability that should worry Wenger most.

Bacary Sagna must play a disciplined game. The French full-back has enjoyed bombing down the wing this season, but against Reus he must prioritise defensive duties. Should he manage to do so, Reus will be put on the back foot and tasked with offering his own team defensive support when Sagna does manage to venture forward.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal celebrates as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Ge
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

 

Mesut Ozil vs. Sven Bender/Nuri Sahin

Mesut Ozil is not the type of player who can be diminished via one player's man-marking, so it's Sven Bender and Nuri Sahin who must collectively halt the Arsenal maestro.

Wenger's newly transferred German will float between the midfield and attacking lines in order to retain and progress possession. Having one opponent follow his every move will only create major space for the home side to exploit, so Klopp must be clever when deploying two defensive midfielders.

Both Bender and Sahin must be alert in order to stop Ozil from dictating. If they can halt the former Real Madrid star's natural sense of control, Olivier Giroud will face a lack of service up top and the Gunners may struggle to gain rhythm.

 

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

 

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