Arsenal and Borussia
Dortmund meet in a Champions League Group F match in North
London on Wednesday with both teams hoping the momentum of their
recent excellent domestic form will sweep them towards the last
16 of the competition.
The English side are far better placed to do that than the
German champions as they lead the group with eight points, one
clear of Olympique Marseille, who in turn are three ahead of
Dortmund with Olympiakos Piraeus in last place on three.
A spot in the knockout round for the 12th successive season
is assured if Arsenal win and if the other group result goes
their way they could qualify with a draw at home, where they
have only lost one of their last 36 Champions League matches.
Their record against German sides is also good at home,
winning their last five encounters.
Arsene Wenger's side have recovered from a poor start to the
season and continued their revival with a fifth successive
Premier League win at Norwich City on Saturday to take their
recent unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions.
"Five weeks ago we were 17th in the league and I had to
answer a question about whether I thought we would battle
relegation," Wenger told reporters.
"At the time I said no but in football things change
quickly. We are back in a stronger position."
Arsenal have relied heavily on Robin van Persie this season
and he scored both goals at Norwich, taking his tally to 31 in
29 league games this calendar year.
The Dutchman, who also scored Arsenal's goal in their 1-1
draw in Dortmund in September, did not start the drab 0-0 home
draw with Marseille three weeks ago when Arsenal squandered the
chance to make the last 16 with a victory.
"WEEK OF TRUTH"
Dortmund, who won their first group match at the fourth
attempt when they beat Olympiakos 1-0 on November 1, will take great
heart from their 1-0 win over Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich
on Saturday - their sixth league win in their last seven
Dortmund grabbed their so-called "week of truth" by the
horns, winning 1-0 with a second-half goal from Mario Gotze to
close to within two points of the top.
Coach Jurgen Klopp could not have hoped for a better
warm-up ahead of their visit to Arsenal, where they have to win
to guarantee they stay in contention for a spot in the first
knockout round with a final group match to play.
"We are really looking forward to Wednesday. We
beat Bayern and we have no real time to celebrate. But we are
fit, we are young and we are hungry for success so we want to
put in a super performance in London," said midfielder Kevin
Defender Patrick Owomoyela, who has been out since October,
returned to the Dortmund bench for the Bayern game with defender
Marcel Schmelzer also back in action.
Klopp will again be without defender Neven Subotic,
who fractured a cheekbone two weeks ago and is not expected to
play again this year.
"The win in Munich was great but it also took a lot of
energy and we cannot expect the match in London to be any
easier," said club chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke. "But we
are on a good run and will go for it."
Arsenal: 13-Wojciech Szczesny; 6-Laurent Koscielny, 4-Per
Mertesacker, 5-Thomas Vermaelen, 11-Andre Santos; 8-Mikel
Arteta, 17-Alex Song, 16-Aaron Ramsey; 14-Theo Walcott, 10-Robin
Van Persie 62, 27-Gervinho
Borussia Dortmund: 1-Roman Weidenfeller; 27-Felipe
Santana, 15-Mats Hummels, 26-Lukasz Piszczek, 29-Marcel
Schmelzer; 11-Mario Goetze, 23-Shinji Kagawa, 22-Sven Bender,
19-Kevin Grosskreutz, 5-Sebastian Kehl; 9-Robert Lewandowski.
Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)
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