Preview by Numbers: Borussia Dortmund v. Arsenal, Champions League Group Matchday 4

Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Wednesday, October 6
2:45 p.m. EST, 19:45 GMT
  • Match Officials from the Netherlands
    • Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
    • Assistants: Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra
    • 4th Official: Angelo Boonman
    • Additional Assistants: Pol van Boekel and Richard Liesveld
  • Reverse Fixture: Arsenal 1 - 2 Dortmund
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 2 Arsenal wins, 2 Dortmund wins, 1 draw
  • Arsenal's European Form: W // W-W-W-W-L
  • Dortmund's European Form: W-L-L // L-W-W
  • Weather: Scattered Light Rain, 10 C / 49 F
Arsenal's standing would be a lot more comfortable if they
had even drawn two weeks ago.
I'll frame this with the case of a few scenarios: right now, Arsenal, Dortmund, and Napoli are all tied with six points earned and three games to play. The first tie-breaker is points earned between tied teams and on that, they are also all tied, with a win and a loss against the others. So, it comes down to goal difference in games between the tied teams, which Arsenal leads +1 to even to -1.

I'm going forward with the premise that Napoli will beat Marseille at home and be on nine points by tomorrow's end. If Arsenal beat Dortmund, they will also have nine points and things look fairly comfortable for qualification, with Marseille coming to London Matchday 5.

If Arsenal lose to Dortmund, then the Gunners are on the outside, staring the Europa League in the face. They'll have to win out to finish on 12 points. If they were to do that, it might still not be enough to win the group, because if everyone beats Marseille and Napoli beat Dortmund on Matchday 5, then all three teams finish with 12 points. And then, it comes down to goal difference in games between the tied teams.

If that doesn't give you even more anxiety going into this game then you already had, then I don't know if anything could, and if that's the case, then you're an enviably confident person.

Big match, this.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Wilshere (ankle,) Flamini (groin,) Walcott (stomach,) Sanogo (back,) Podolski (hamstring,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee,) Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Gibbs (calf)

Here are some Germans. This picture isn't totally relevant.
Well, that's a list of "out" players that just keeps getting longer, doesn't it? It does appear, however, that Mathieu Flamini could be available in some way, shape, or form, against Manchester United on Sunday. Unfortunately, this blog post is about tonight, so that's irrelevant. Theo Walcott will not likely return until after the international break (he just keeps getting pushed forward, doesn't he? It's almost Diaby-esque.)

Jack Wilshere did not make the trip to Germany, still nursing an ankle injury (it's the other ankle, not the one previously seriously injured.) Kieran Gibbs, who left the 2-0 win over Liverpool with a calf injury, trained with the first team on Tuesday and was called "completely available," so it's really a judgment call for Arsene Wenger as to whether he starts. I'm going to guess that he will.

Serge Gnabry will be available from the bench after missing some time with an ankle problem he suffered against Crystal Palace. It's as you were with everyone else.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud.

Dortmund Squad News

Out: Gundogan (spine,) Piszczek (hip/groin)
Doubts: Hummels (back/thigh,) Kehl (ankle)

So, the German word for goal is "tor." Fascinating...
There was a very strong likelihood that Jurgen Klopp will not make any changes from the XI that won at the Emirates a fortnight ago. Then, yesterday, he mentioned that Mats Hummels had a very specific 97.5% chance of missing out through injury. Replacing him the side would be Sokratis, one of the founders of Western philosophy, the 25-year-old Greek defender.

Aside from Hummels, the injury list basically remains the same from two weeks ago, as Dortmund are missing Lukasz Piszczesk, who underwent hip and groin surgery over the summer, and Ilkay Gundogan, who has been out since August with compression of the spine. Sebastien Kehl, who suffered ligament damage to the ankle in training mid-September, has been upgraded to "doubtful" status, but it's much more likely that Sven Bender and Nuri Sahin will start in the holding roles.

The other potential change Klopp could make would be to start the speedy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the right wing, but the expectation is for Jakub Blaszczykowski to start, and the Gabonese international Aubameyang to come off the bench; he did just that in the 66th minute at the Emirates.

Predicted XI: Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Subotic, Sokratis, Schmelzer, Bender, Sahin, Mikhitaryan, Reus, Blaszczykowski, Lewandowski.

Current Form

Arsenal were just about teetering over the edge of the media's "CLUB IN CRISIS" zone after they lost to Dortmund and Chelsea in non-consecutive non-league games, but now, after a 2-0 win over Liverpool moved them an astonishing five points clear at the top of the Premier League table, those whispers have disappeared. Now, the next two games over the next five days could define the narrative for the rest of the Arsenal season.

As for Dortmund, they've won four straight since the last international break, after they had lost to Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 on October 5. Since winning at the Emirates, Dortmund beat Schalke in Gelsenkirchen in the Revierderby, 3-1, then beat Stuttgart on Friday by a  6-1 scoreline at home. Dortmund have not dropped points at home at all this season.

Match Facts

A young Rosicky scores twice for Dortmund against
his future club.
You should recall the reverse fixture rather easily, as it was only two weeks ago and it was a pretty big game. Dortmund controlled play early and led 1-0 before Olivier Giroud pinged one back before halftime. Then, Arsenal looked the more likely side to win before being burned on the counterattack in the 82nd minute. You know the rest.

Arsenal have never won in Dortmund on their previous two trips, but then again, Dortmund had never won at Arsenal in their previous two trips before two weeks ago. So, there's that. In 2011, Arsenal led through Robin van Persie before Ivan Perisic's 88th minute equalizer. In 2002, Arsenal led through Thierry Henry before Tomas Rosicky scored twice to give Dortmund a 2-1 win.

All-time on German soil, Arsenal have a record of four wins, four draws, and five losses, though Arsenal are unbeaten in their last four trips to Germany, dating back to a loss to Bayern Munich in 2005. On the other hand, Dortmund have never lost to an English side at home, with a record of four wins and three draws.

The Referee

Oh my...
The match officials are from the Netherlands; the referee is Bjorn Kuipers. Kuipers has been working Champions League fixtures since 2009 and yet this is his first Arsenal match. Dortmund saw Kuipers once last year, in their 4-1 win over Real Madrid in the semifinal. He has already worked an English side v. German side match this season, too, taking charge of Bayern Munich's 3-1 win over Manchester City on Matchday 2.

In Champions League play, English sides have a record of four wins, one draw, and two losses with Kuipers as the referee. One of those losses, Manchester United to Basel in 2011, saw the Red Devils crash out of the group stage. German sides have five wins, one draw, and one loss, which was Wolfsburg to Manchester United in 2009.

Kuipers has worked other notable games in recent years, including last year's Europa League final, won by Chelsea over Benfica, and the Confederations Cup final, won by Brazil over Spain. He also has a business degree and co-owns three supermarkets and a hair salon (really? A hair salon? Do you see that picture?)

Around Europe
  • Tuesday: Real Sociedad 0 - 0 Manchester United
  • Tuesday: Shakhtar Donetsk 0 - 0 Bayer Leverkusen
  • Tuesday: Juventus 2 -2 Real Madrid
  • Tuesday: Copenhagen 1 - 0 Galatasaray
  • Tuesday: Paris St. Germain 1 - 1 Anderlecht
  • Tuesday: Olympiacos 1 - 0 Benfica
  • Tuesday: Manchester City 5 - 2 CSKA Moscow
  • Tuesday: Viktoria Plzen 0 - 1 Bayern Munich
  • Wednesday: Chelsea v. Schalke 04; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Wednesday: Basel v. Steaua Bucurseti; St. Jakob-Park, Basel
  • Wednesday: Napoli v. Marseille; Stadio San Paolo, Naples
  • Wednesday: Atletico Madrid v. Austria Wien; Vincente Calderon Stadium, Madrid
  • Wednesday: Zenit St. Petersbug v. Porto; Petrovsky Stadium, St. Petersbug
  • Wednesday: Ajax v. Celtic; Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
  • Wednesday: Barcelona v. AC Milan; Camp Nou, Barcelona