Some nights are special.
There is a remarkable atmosphere around the ground tonight. The Arsenal fans are renowned for their hospitality, if not their volume. The Dortmund fans, by contrast, are a raucous bunch.
Their energetic chanting has echoed around North London this evening. If you’ll excuse the stereotype, their singing is typically teutonic: tightly-orchestrated and thoroughly passionate. If they’re this noisy outside the ground, one wonders just how loud they’ll be once inside the stadium.
In the streets around the ground, Dortmund fans wear half-scarves commemorating the meeting of two great European clubs. Their is a mutual respect between sets of fans; Arsenal supporters mingle among their German counterparts, swapping beer recommendations and anecdotes from other European trips.
Dortmund’s fans arrived in Islington in a sea of amber and black, forming a yellow brick road of their very own between Finsbury Park and the concourse of the Emirates Stadium.
In the press box there is the hubbub of genuine excitement. Football connoisseurs have flocked from all over Europe to be here. This is, on paper, the most attractive tie of the Champions League group stage. Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger both preach a doctrine of exciting, attacking football. The assembled congregation can hardly wait. We are all privileged to be here.
Arsenal might have greater chance of winning against a European minnow, but where is the glory in that?
Nights like this are what make Champions League qualification worthwhile. Hosting a club like Dortmund makes for a great occasion, and ought to make for a great match, too.
Nights like this are what separate Arsenal from rivals Tottenham Hotspur. There is a magic in the air. This promises to be a titanic tussle between two teams with rich footballing traditions on Europe’s greatest stage.
Tonight is already special. An Arsenal victory would make it spectacular.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.
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