Many people view the number 13 as being unlucky, but for Arsenal that won’t be the case on Tuesday as the club is hoping to extend its current unbeaten streak to 13. It’s going to be a tough task though as they take on Borussia Dortmund, last year’s runners up, in a Champions League Group F showdown at the Emirates at 7:45 pm. The Gunners have 10 wins and a pair of draws in their past dozen games in all competitions.
Arsenal, the Premier League leaders, are also sitting on top of their Champions League group after a pair of wins over French side Marseille and Napoli of Italy. A win over the German side on Tuesday would put the Gunners in the driver’s seat and greatly boost their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the tournament for the 14th straight year. Of course, a loss would be very damaging as the two clubs will meet each other in Dortmund in the next match.
Manager Arsene Wenger said Dortmund is a much better side now than they were in 2011 when they faced each other in the group stage. But he claims his side is also stronger, so it’s going to be an interesting two games. “It is already a very important tie because usually matchday three and four usually are decisive, so that could be the key for us to qualify.”
Wenger has midfielder Santi Cazorla back in the squad after he missed all of September with an ankle injury. However, forward Theo Walcott suffered a setback in his rehabilitation and is still out of action along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo. In addition, midfielder Mathieu Flamini received a head injury in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Norwich on Saturday and may miss the match. However, defender Bacary Sagna returned in that match and should be ready to go against Dortmund.
Wenger feels he’ll have an excellent and large squad once all of the injured players return and this means the club may not make any moves in the upcoming January transfer window. “With the number of competitions involved, everybody thinks they have a chance to play. That is what is the most important. As long as you fight for things, everybody keeps the focus.”
Dortmund managed to beat Marseille 3-0 in their last Champions League outing after losing to Napoli in their first encounter. They’ve struggled somewhat performance-wise in the Bundesliga even though they’re in second place behind Bayern Munich with seven wins and a draw. They beat Hanover 1-0 on Saturday, but manager Jurgen Klopp felt his side faded as the game went on. He said his players will need to be much better on Tuesday if they hope to avoid a loss in London. He stated, “We should be a step further on Tuesday, we know we can play better football than we did against Hanover and we will too. I have a good feeling.”
Klopp won’t actually be managing the club from the bench though as he was handed a two-match suspension after Dortmund’s loss to Napoli in their first Champions League contest of the season. The 46-year-old Klopp received the ban for verbal abuse of the fourth official. Klopp’s side received a boost on the weekend when midfielder Marco Reus returned to action along with defender Marcel Schmelzer after missing time with injuries. However, Klopp will be without the services of Lukasz Pszczek, skipper captain Sebastian Kehl and Ilkay Guendogan.
When these two sides met in 2011 Arsenal managed a 1-1 draw in Dortmund along with a 2-1 victory at the Emirates. They’ve met four times in total over the years with Arsenal having a pair of wins, a draw and a loss. The Gunners have won nine, drawn one and lost three times in their last 13 home matches against German sides. However, they lost two of those games last season to Schalke and Bayern Munich. They’ll need to be at their best to make sure this streak doesn’t turn into three in a row.