I might be in the minority, but the Champions League has lost a little of it’s appeal in my eyes. As we head into what feels like an annual fixture with Borussia Dortmund, I’m not as excited as I feel I should be.
That’s mostly down to the fact the competition has long been set up to ensure the progress of all the big teams. Understandable, I guess, in terms of revenue, however, it removes that sense of romance and unpredictability.
Of course, my lack of enthusiasm is probably down to the manner in which Arsenal’s campaigns invariably pan out; start the group well, qualify, field weakened team in remaining group games, finish 2nd, play European giant in last 16, go out.
Tonight we travel to Germany with real defensive problems. Debuchy is out for somewhere in the region of 2 months (allegedly – no confirmation yet), Monreal hasn’t travelled due to a back issue and Chambers is doubtful with tonsillitis. There’s the very real possibility of Hector Bellerin playing tonight and I’m not worried about that at all – the young Spaniard is a very good player.
What does cause concern is the lack of cover on the bench. Should Chambers not make it (I would hazard a guess he will) we are an injury away from having to play somebody woefully out of position. Even taking into account he bad luck of losing a couple of players to injury, our options at the back really shouldn’t be so thin at this early stage.
My guess at how we’ll line-up is this:
As far as opening fixtures go, tonight we face one of the hardest ones. Dortmund, under the guidance of Klopp, are a formidable force and will provide a stern test. They may have been stripped of their prized assets in recent seasons, but can still boast an abundance of attacking threat. Buoyed by their magnificent home support, we can expect to be put under a lot of pressure. Swift counter attacks utilising our pace up front will be the game plan we implement. Welbeck and Alexis will need to provide an outlet and I’m hoping we’ll see Ozil get a little more involved on his home soil.
Draws seems to be very much the trend at moment, as does the phrase, “I’d have taken that if you offered it before the game”. In this case, a draw would be a good result, and yes – I would take it were it to be offered to me now.
With that in mind, my prediction is gong to be a 1-1. We won this fixture last season quite admirably so I shan’t rule out the possibility of a repeat, but we will need to show the pressing game that was so effective against Man City at the weekend and we’ll need to play well.
Oh, and no injuries in defence would be bloody nice, too.
That’s it for today, folks. Make you way to the comments section and tell me what you think the outcome will be and who you would pick to start the game?
I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss what happened. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.