Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his side to invoke the spirit which saw them beat Bayern Munich when they take on Borussia Dortmund at their Westfalenstadion fortress tonight.
The Gunners head to Germany on the back of a 2-0 win over Liverpool which kept them at the top of the Premier League and produced the required response following a disappointing home exit from the Capital One Cup against Chelsea.
While Arsenal may be five points clear at the top in the Premier League, Wenger’s side are certainly not having it all their own way in Europe.
Jurgen Klopp’s well-drilled outfit secured a 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago with a late goal from Robert Lewandowski and warmed up for their next European challenge with a 6-1 victory over Stuttgart, where the Poland forward plundered a hat-trick.
However, Arsenal were within two minutes of winning there in September 2011 and Wenger sees no reason why they should not adopt a confident approach again as they did on the last visit to Germany in March, when victory over the eventual European champions kick-started a superb end to the campaign.
“We take belief from Bayern. We play everywhere to win and that will not change of course, we will have a positive attitude in our approach to the game,” Wenger said.
“We have played everywhere in Europe and always had the same approach and will be again like that tomorrow.”
In response to Klopp’s description of Arsenal’s “orchestral” style compared to his own “heavy metal” brand, the Gunners boss joked: “I am not a great specialist in music, but Dortmund is a very good football team and Arsenal as well, therefore we should see a good symphony.”
After Napoli beat Group F whipping boys Marseille, there are now three sides all locked on six points as the battle for qualification looks set to go right down to matchday six.
Wenger expects a more focused display from his men in Germany.
“I believe we lost the first game because we absolutely wanted to win it at any cost and we exposed ourselves,” he said.
“We pushed forward because we were not happy with the draw, but when you cannot win a game, at least don’t lose it because you are not cautious enough, that is what happened in the game.
“It will strengthen the resolve of my team because they will want to come out and show a different level.”
Arsenal travelled to Dortmund without England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is nursing an ankle problem which could also cause him to miss the Premier League game at Manchester United on Sunday.
Wilshere is set for another scan tomorrow. Wenger said: “If that is not successful he will definitely be out for Sunday.”
German midfielder Serge Gnabry has shrugged off his ankle problem while full-back Kieran Gibbs, who hobbled off against Liverpool with a hip injury, is also in the travelling squad.
Midfielder Mathieu Flamini (groin) could be back to face United, but England forward Theo Walcott must wait will have to wait until after the international break to fully recover from minor abdominal surgery.
France forward Olivier Giroud will again lead the Arsenal attack, looking to add to his eight-goal tally.
He said: “The difference with the last season is especially the confidence and maybe I improve myself in a technical way, the boss told me that because we work a lot on it at the training ground.
“For me, it’s all about concentration, focus, confidence. I try to do the job for the team to help them win.”
Dortmund are chasing what would be an eighth successive home Champions League win and have never lost against English opposition at the Westfalenstadion. But the Gunners are unbeaten in 14 away matches in all competitions.
Klopp accepts his men, last season’s Champions League runners-up, will have to deliver their own high-level performance to stay on course for qualification from Group F.
“We believe it is an advantage to play at home and if we put all our quality on the pitch, we are very hard to play against. We are also very well prepared,” Klopp said. “Even if we had won the last 70 games at home, it wouldn’t make any difference for tomorrow.”
Dortmund are likely to be without German defender Mats Hummels because of hamstring problem so Greece’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos looks set to stand in again.
Midfielder Marco Reus feels Dortmund cannot afford to lose focus.
“It is all about our motivation,” he said. “This is the Champions League and at this level the smallest mistakes can be punished immediately. We will be very prepared.”
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