Borussia Dortmund Vs. Arsenal, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Preview

Arsenal travel to Germany to face the defending Bundesliga champions in a match that could decide the shape of Group F.

Arsenal's reward for knocking Udinese out of the Champions League in the preliminary round is a group in which they find themselves matched head to head with German champions Borussia Dortmund, the team pretty much everyone was trying to avoid from Pot Four. At least the Gunners are getting the tricky away fixture out of the way early, though - this may well be the best time to cause an upset with Dortmund struggling to find the free-flowing form that made them such a force in the Bundesliga last season.

BVB are currently in 11th place in the league after five games despite an impressive opening-day performance, and lost a long home unbeaten streak last weekend when Hertha Berlin won 2-1 at the Signal Iduna Park. With captain and main creative force Nuri Sahin leaving for Real Madrid over the summer, Dortmund are looking rather stodgy at present, and Sahin's replacement Ilkay Gundogan has been inconsistent to the point that he's not really helping. There may be no better chance for Arsenal to visit, and if they can snatch three points in Germany they'll be in more-or-less total command of the group.

Then again, for all of Dortmund's troubles Arsenal barely beat Swansea City at home last weekend, relying on a major error from Michel Vorm and then some rather extreme luck in order to hold out for a 1-0 win against a newly-promoted side. We're hardly looking at the Arsenal of old, despite a slew of signings at the transfer deadline and Arsene Wenger claiming that the side's confidence has returned - an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United can't really be banished that quickly.

There's bad news in terms of injuries for the Gunners as well. Both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere won't make the trip to Germany, leaving the core of Arsenal's young midfield out of the side. Instead, it looks as though Wenger will have to rely on the duo of Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun as creators behind an attacking trident of Gervinho, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott. It'll hardly strike fear into the hearts of Dortmund's defence, although Sven Bender might have his hands full tracking Arsenal's new midfield signings.

One player who definitely will have his hands full is Arsenal left back Kieran Gibbs, who's faced with the unenviable task of dealing with 'German Messi' Mario Goetze. Goetze didn't make the lineup against Berlin, but he'll be reinstated on the right and is capable of doing absurd amounts of damage to any defence that stands in his way. Gibbs isn't a great defender even on his best day, and if the adventurous left back doesn't curtail his attacking instincts, Goetze can and will exploit that space to devastating effect.

On the other hand Lucas Barrios' absence will cheer Per Mertesacker and the Arsenal defence. The poacher scored 21 goals in all competitions last season, but an injury picked up in this summer's Copa America means that he won't feature for the German champions against the Gunner's somewhat-creaky back line - good news after what United inflicted upon them a fortnight again. That said, Robert Lewandowski's not exactly a bad backup as far as Dortmund (or anyone) are concerned...

Projected Lineups

Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Roman Weidenfeller; Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Lukasz Piszczek; Ilkay Gundogan, Sven Bender; Kevin Grosskreutz, Shinji Kagawa, Mario Goetze; Robert Lewandowski.

Arsenal (4-3-3): Wojciech Szczesny; Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna; Alex Song, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun; Gervinho, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott.

Pick

All told, it's pretty finely balanced between two teams that have started the season in disappointing fashion. Dortmund seem far more likely to play to their potential than the Londoners, however, so if you were going to be on anyone, it should probably be them. BVB 2-1 Arsenal.

Schedule

The match will be played at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday September 13th, kicking off at 7:45 PM BST (2:45 PM EST; 11:45 AM PST). SB Nation Soccer will be providing live text coverage of the match as it happens. For more on Arsenal's buildup to the game, check out The Short Fuse.

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