Arsenal will face Borussia Dortmund in the first Champions League game of the campaign this evening. The match will take place at 7:45 (GMT) in the 80,000 seater Signal Iduna Park in Germany.
Arsenal started last season’s Champions League campaign with a bang – 9 points out of 9 and 14 goals to our name. However, two away defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga left the Gunners needing a win to secure second place in the group. This ultimately led to our tie against Barcelona which ended our hopes of European silverware.
Last 5 Champions League fixtures: W W L W W
Last 5 Premier League fixtures: D D L L W (5/15 points)
11th in the Premier League table
Last 5 Bundesliga fixtures: W L W D L (7/15 points)
11th in the Premier League table
Dortmund qualified for this season’s Champions League following a great 2010/11 campaign. In April this year, Dortmund defeated FC Nuremberg 2–0 to reach its seventh league title with two games left, given that it was eight points clear of its nearest rivals.
Borussia Dortmund lost to Hertha Berlin at home on the weekend, and it was its first home defeat in 18 in all competitions. During that streak, Dortmund won 13 and won against the likes of Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen.
In the Europa League last season, Dortmund won 2, drew 3 and lost 1, which failed to get the German side out of the group stages.
Dortmund’s danger man is Mario Goetze, an attacking midfielder who is 19 years old but made his debut nearly two years ago in November 2009. He has since played 42 times for his club and has made 9 appearances for his country. He was supposedly subject to a £35 million bid by Arsene Wenger towards the end of the transfer window, but decided to stay at least one more year in Germany due to his age.
As we previously revealed on the blog, Wenger will be in the stands for this match due to UEFA
stupidly rejecting his appeal regarding the use of a third party to contact his players during the Udinese game. Wenger had the following to say on the decision:
“I don’t understand what the rules are any more. At least I can sleep in the same hotel as the team. There is no difference until you get to the stadium.
“I will give my team talk at the hotel before we go to the game and then I will send my vibes to the players during the game and hope they will not be detected by UEFA!
“Pat Rice will be in charge during the game. We will go through all the situations beforehand and he will make the right decisions. For once, I will have somebody else to blame.”
Although he doesn’t seem too bitter, I’m sure Wenger will be seething. Not only was he unfairly punished (I say unfairly because Arsenal supposedly got permission from UEFA to use a third party to contact the team), but this is a very tough first fixture in Europe. Getting off to a good start in the group stages would allow Wenger to rotate later on, and given the lack of depth in some areas of the squad, this would be helpful. Playing away to the German champions would be a difficult task at the best of times, but Arsenal are off form and missing some of its best players. Not having Wenger on the sidelines is just another problem that we will have to face.
Dortmund’s manager, Klopp, made a cheeky remark on Wenger’s suspension:
“I am not sure whether it will be important that he is on the touchline.
“It would be better if maybe Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott or Gervinho wouldn’t be on the pitch and play.”
Arsenal 2-0 Borussia Dortmund 16/09/02
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Arsenal 29/10/02
When Dortmund defeated Arsenal in 2002, Tomas Rosicky scored both goals for the German side.
To see the squad that has travelled to Germany, click here. There is another article on team news and predictions, which you can see here.
Arsenal will face Borussia Dortmund in Germany tomorrow evening in our first Champions League match of the campaign.
The eighteen man squad includes our five deadline day signings (if you count Park in that category, although he signed a day earlier).
However, we do seem to have a rather lightweight midfield, given that Wilshere, Rosicky, Diaby and Ramsey facing injuries. Coquelin is also not included in the squad.
Robin van Persie
Chu Young Park
Wenger has continued with the 4-3-3 formation this season, and this squad only has four midfielders. Two of them are new recruits and one has come up through the ranks. Arteta, Benayoun and Frimpong all made their debuts in the last few games and have only 7 Arsenal appearances between them.
If one of our midfielders suffers an injury or is having a poor game, there is only one replacement on the bench. Despite our new acquisitions, this shows a lack of depth in the squad.
Borussia Dortmund have denied any interest in Nicklas Bendtner. Arsène Wenger admitted a few weeks ago that Bendtner is a possible departure this summer, with his agent (and father) claiming that Dortmund were just one of the clubs interested in acquiring his signature. However, Dortmund’s press officer Josef Schneck told Sporten.tv2.dk:
“We have never been interested.
“We’re currently at our training camp in Switzerland and have been asked about this by German, Swiss and many other reporters.
“But believe me, there’s nothing in this at all.”
Photo from Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr
Despite interest from Fulham, Hamburg and Benfica, the Daily Mail have revealed that Everton are looking at option of bringing Bendtner to Goodison Park on loan next season. David Moyes has very little funds available to negotiate a permanent move, but injury problems to Loius Saha, and the possible departure of Yakubu to Leicester City, means that the Toffees are in need of bolstering their attacking options. It is thought that Moyes had tried to negotiate a loan deal in January, but Wenger was unwilling to let him leave because at the time Robin van Persie was still struggling with injury. The club also rejected a £5 million bid from Fulham in January, with the Cottagers now expected to renew their interest over the summer.
Bendtner himself has confirmed that he is looking to move clubs this summer. The question is simply which club he will be contracted to in six weeks time.
“I’ve considered this for a long time and was quite clear when I arrived at my decision. I’m quite calm and confident that I’ll be fine at a new club.”
If Nicklas wants to leave, then the best thing is for Wenger to sell him this summer. If we were to loan him out for a season, he will not be any closer to claiming a place in the Arsenal starting line-up when he returns to the club this time next near. He is, and always will be, a squad player at best (for Arsenal). The most suitable option would be to take the £7 million that clubs would offer and put that towards buying a new centre-back or central midfielder.
Yesterday we brought you news that Borussia Dortmund are just one of the clubs thought to be monitoring the current transfer situation Nicklas Bendtner. The Daily Mail have revealed that Benfica are also looking at the option of signing Bendtner, bringing him to Lisbon as a potential replacement for Oscar Cardozo. Cardozo scored 38 goals during the 2009/10 season, but struggled to find form last season and (despite becoming the top foreign goalscorer in the history of Benfica) is thought to be on his way out of the club this summer. Should Cardozo leave, it is thought that Benfica will step-up their interest in Bendtner.
Photo by Ronmac on Flickr
Bendtner had also been linked with a move to Sporting Lisbon earlier in the summer, but Sporting would not confirm their interest despite suggestions made by his father that they had made an official offer. Benfica are apparently ready to meet our valuation (£12 million) but it is not known whether Bendtner would be keen on moving to Portugal; it is thought that he wishes to either remain in the Premier League or move to the Bundesliga.
Despite proving that he is a talented footballer with a good (although slightly inconsistent) eye for goal, Bendtner has found it almost impossible to break into Arsène Wenger’s starting XI over the past few seasons. He made only 14 starts throughout the duration of the 2010/11 campaign, and one could argue that this may have been due to the long-term injury suffered by Robin van Persie at the start of the season. With the impending arrival of Gervinho (which means increased competition for a place in the front three), it is extremely unlikely that Nicklas will still be playing for us at the start of next season.
Nicklas Bendtner’s father and agant, Thomas Bendtner, has confirmed that Borussia Dortmund are looking to sign our Danish striker. Nicklas looks set to join our sudden mass exodus of players this summer, having previously suggested that he may have to leave Arsenal if he wishes to play more consistent first-team football.
Thomas Bendtner told Sporten.dk:
“There is an interest from several German clubs. I can confirm that Borussia Dortmund wish to buy.
“Unfortunately, I can’t comment if there has been any negotiations between Dortmund and Nicklas, or Dortmund and Arsenal.”
Little & large - Bendtner & Arshavin celebrate Andrey's goal against Barcelona in the Champions League. I did try to find a picture of Nicklas celebrating his own goal, but there weren't any... (photo by americanistadechiapas on Flickr)
It is also believed that Bendtner has attracted the likes of Bayern Munich and Sporting Lisbon, although both clubs are yet to make an offer. He is thought to be valued by Arsène Wenger (who no doubt remains slightly reluctant to let him go) at somewhere around £12 million.
Although we cannot consider Bendtner as big a loss as the likes of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, the fact remains that he has scored 45 goals in 156 games for the club. He may not be the “best striker in the world”, but he is not anywhere nearly as bad as everybody remembers. For example, he has a significantly higher goals/ game ratio (0.28) than José Antonio Reyes had during his 3 years at the club (0.21), although admittedly Robin van Persie (0.41) makes this look pretty poor and Thierry Henry (0.61) puts them all to shame.
Bendtner recently became the first Arsenal player to score a hat-trick in the FA Cup since Ian Wright against Yeovil in 1993. Nicklas put 3 past Leyton Orient during our FA Cup 5th Round replay in March. Well at least he can claim to have achieved one thing that Thierry Henry didn’t during his time at Arsenal.
There are rumours that this youngster signed a four-year contract with Arsenal last month. The 19 year old full-back is 6’1″ and plays for Charlton Athletic. He has broken into the first team for the League 1 club after having played on loan for Eastbourne Borough. So…Wenger is looking to sign a 19 year old who plays for a semi-professional football club. That doesn’t sound like a particularly promising way to curb our defensive issues.
However, Jenkinson is clearly talented, having played for both Finland and England youth teams. Should the transfer go through, Wenger would probably have to pay Charlton in compensation. It is rumoured that we would pay around £1 million in stages.
Likeliness Rating: 4.5/5
Mario is an 18 year old German attacking midfielder. He plays for Borussia Dortmund and is receiving rave reviews for his technical ability. He has played 46 games for the German side and scored 8 times, along with providing 15 assists. He has helped Borussia Dortmund to win the Bundesliga this year. In addition, he has represented Germany at all levels and broke into the full national side last year.
Apparently, he has attracted clubs from across Europe, so it is not unusual for Arsenal to be linked with him. However, with a squad brimming with technical ability and attacking talent, it would seem odd for Wenger to choose to buy such a player. Then again, he would slip straight into Arsenal’s style of play with little problem.
Furthermore, many Arsenal midfielders are likely to be on their way out of the London club this season. Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Arshavin, Nasri and Fabregas have all been the subject of transfer rumours. It is unlikely that we will lose all of these players, but should a few of them leave, Wenger would need to replace them with top players. Götze is undoubtedly talented, but once again he is “one for the future.” If Arsène wants to end this trophy drought, then Jenkinson and Götze are not the right type of transfers to be looking for.
Likeliness Rating: 2.5/5