Skip to content

Arsenal v. Borussia Dortmund: Three match-ups to watch

Oct 22, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-DORTMUND-HANOVER

If there was ever a day to take an extended lunch break or come down with a bit of the afternoon flu, today is it.

The reason?

Arsenal v. Borussia Dortmund, which has to be the most irresistible Champions League fixture so far this season.

Both sides play incredible football – Arsenal with their intelligent, calculated build-up play and Dortmund with their high octane counter-attacking flair – meaning individual player match-ups will be crucial to determining the outcome.

Here are three key battles to keep a close eye on.

Robert Lewandowski v. Laurent Koscielny

Dortmund are a side that take their chances and no player personifies this better than Robert Lewandowski. Give him an inch and he’ll punish you.

Although marking the Polish international will be a joint effort between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, it’s the latter who more often than not will be marking Lewandowski. Koscielny’s speed and competitiveness will serve him well in this matchup but if the Frenchman is to prevail he’ll need to focus on keeping Lewandowski within an arms length and with his back to goal.

There’s no denying Kosicielny’s improvement since arriving at Arsenal – many now consider him to be one of the better centerbacks in the Premier League – but his downfall continues to be the over-marking of his man. This results in Koscielny getting spun and being forced into a desperate sliding tackle, which too often means a penalty for the opposition.

Lewandowski, in turn, will look to post and spin Koscielny and to engage the Frenchman in battles of skill that will serve to frustrate. For the Dortmund striker, success in this matchup will be about holding his patience and baiting Koscielny at every possible opportunity.

Mikel Arteta v. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

With Mathieu Flamini ruled out of the match through concussion, Mikel Arteta will be the defensive grit in Arsenal’s holding midfield pair.

Arteta’s main task will be to contain Dortmund’s new weapon,  Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who loves to run. Snuffing out counter-attacks before they have the chance to develop will be crucial for Arsenal and this means Arteta never getting caught in front of Mkhitaryan.

In addition to his work rate, the Dortmund playmaker is creative and technical but can be frustrated through tough marking. Arteta will do well to breathe down his neck at all opportunities and force him to forgo the killer pass into Lewadowski, Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

For Mkhitaryan to prevail, he must use his pace and imagination to his advantage. Interchanging with Reus and Aubameyang will give Arteta headaches and Mkhitaryan must test the Spaniard’s resolve by running at him off the dribble.

Mesut Ozil v. Nuri Sahin

The onus of containing the fabulous Mesut Ozil falls on Sven Bender, Dortmund’s defensive stallwart who holds BVB’s midfield together allowing the front five to attack.

Bender is a defensive midfielder of technique and intelligence, one who focuses more on intercepting the ball than destroying his adversaries with crunching tackles. He loves to sit in a deep, central position and mark players out of the game. This will be Bender’s plan for Ozil – dominate the space in front of the back four.

Not having to worry about broken ankles will please Ozil but Bender’s constant shadow in the center of the park could serve to annoy. Ozil will counter this approach by flairing out wide to create space for players like Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey – and even Olivier Giroud – to operate centrally. Ozil’s objective thereafter will be to slip deeper into the Dortmund defense, behind Bender, and to operate on the shoulders of Nevan Subotic and Mats Hummels.

Like Mkhitaryan, Ozil must also test Bender’s pace and resolve by running at him off the dribble and linking up with Giroud to slip through the Dortmund defense. With the Bender returning from injury, this is a battle Ozil should be chomping at the bit to dominate.

For more on Arsenal v. Dortmund and all of today’s games make sure to checkout Richard Farley’s impressive Champions League preview.

Latest Posts
  1. Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:48 PM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    Three Premier League sides have some serious work to do on transfer deadline day. Who needs what?

  2. Top 5 reasons we’ll all miss Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Harry Redknapp, wheeler-dealer Getty Images

    Harry Redknapp was the ultimate star of transfer deadline day. Tuesday will be a sad, empty day without Harry around.

  3. Done Deals: Recapping Man United (and others’) busy day — De Gea drama; Chicharito out; $56 million for Martial

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

    Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC

    Manchester United were the world’s busiest football club on Monday. They, along with others, made headlines ahead of the transfer deadline.

  4. NO DEAL: David de Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid falls through as Man United paperwork arrives too late

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:53 PM EDT

    150831_deGea Getty Images

    Manchester United failed to submit the necessary paperwork before Spain’s transfer deadline, and De Gea will not move to Real Madrid.

  5. MLS Player of the Week — Week 26: New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    Two goals, one assist in a 3-0 victory over your club’s most hated rivals — more than enough to win POTW honors.

  6. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 26

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, Toronto FC Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

    Two Bradleys, two from Crew SC and two from the Dynamo — the latest MLS Team of the Week.

  7. Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Arsenal, Witsel to Spurs

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Witsel Getty Images

    Yes, rumors know no season, but the transfer mill will churn out a lot less gossip after Tuesday’s end of the summer transfer season.

  8. Report: De Gea moving to Madrid as Costa Rican hero Navas heads to Old Trafford

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    David de Gea won Manchester United's Player of the Year award in what was likely a landslide. Getty Images

    Manchester United and Real Madrid have swapped goalkeepers, with the Premier League side landing a load of dough, too.

  9. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    The UEFA Champions League clubs don’t find themselves well-represented in the Premier League Team of the Week after a weekend of shocks around Britain.

  10. Fireworks as transfer deadline passes in Germany: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Januzaj to Dortmund

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Draxler AP

    We’re still waiting to see whether Javier Hernandez seals his move to Bayer Leverkusen. “Chicharito” has been spotted around Bayer HQ.

  11. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Swansea City's Bafetimbi Gomis, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal beside Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

    The Black Panther is doing more than simply prowling; He is finishing his chances with style.

  12. Miami FC confirms AC Milan, Lazio legend Alessandro Nesta as first manager

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson) AP

    The 2006 World Cup champion will organize Miami FC for co-owner Paolo Maldini during the club’s first season in the NASL.

  13. Premier League Playback: It’s time to change the Transfer Window rules

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  John Stones of Everton applauds the fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on August 23, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look back at the PL weekend.

  14. Morning news: Jelavic medical for West Ham, ball in Borini’s court after Liverpool accepts bid

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Jelavic Getty Images

    It looks like we’re headed for a bonkers Transfer Deadline Day on Tuesday, and a trio of Premier League teams might be doing some under-the-radar business on Monday.

  15. Draxler, Pogba, Januzaj headline 10 deals to monitor as we near Transfer Deadline Day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    With the transfer deadline approaching its Tuesday conclusion, deals and rumored deals are hitting the headlines at a head-spinning rate.

  16. Mexico’s Chicharito departs Manchester United; Will he reclaim his form in the Bundesliga?

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Manchester United's Javier Hernandez keeps the ball from Newcastle's Cheik Ismael Tiote during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super) AP

    This Little Pea went to market, reportedly finding a new home in the Bundesliga (And did he really ask for $135k per goal from West Ham?).

  17. Manchester United to add new $56 million striker as Monaco’s Martial leaves France duty

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    VALENCIA, SPAIN - AUGUST 19: Anthony Martial of Monaco looks on during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg match between Valencia CF and AS Monaco at Mestalla Stadium on August 19, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The French federation says Martial was given permission to leave camp by Didier Deschamps, and that he’ll sign a contract with United.

  18. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 3-0 DC United

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls AP

    A complete performance from the Red Bulls, who will finish the season unbeaten against their Atlantic Cup rivals.

  19. Done Deals: De Bruyne joins Manchester City in busy day for Wolfsburg

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-GER-ARSENAL-WOLFSBURG-FRIENDLY Getty Images

    Find out what moves have been completed with the transfer deadline approaching, as Wolfsburg made three big deals today.

  20. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Portland Timbers

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwiwy2q3odk1zwm3ownizgywzdkyota2nwzhymvkmgrl AP

    More than 64,000 supporters packed CenturyLink Field as the Sounders downed the Timbers in a Cascadia Cup clash.

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles