Sport Soccer

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Wenger bids to hit right note in Dortmund cauldron

Jeremy Wilson

So can a finely tuned orchestra make themselves heard in a stadium that is owned by a raucous heavy metal band? Should you believe Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Borussia Dortmund, it is the question awaiting Arsenal at the Westfalenstadion tonight.

Arsene Wenger smiled broadly when the analogy was put to him.

"I am not a great specialist in music but Dortmund is a very good football team and so is Arsenal: we should see a good symphony," he said.

The confidence of both managers is easily explained. Klopp's Dortmund have made their best start to a Bundesliga season and are going for an eighth consecutive home win in the Champions League, while Wenger's Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the Premier League and seeking to extend an unbeaten away sequence of 13 wins and one draw.

Something has to give and, with Napoli still also sharing top billing in Group F, it is conceivable that tonight will decide whether Arsenal progress to the knockout stages.

It was at that last-16 phase against Bayern Munich in March when Arsenal began their extraordinary away run with a 2-0 win. Inspiration, says Wenger, continues to be taken from that previous visit to Germany.

"Maybe we had not the same belief at home because we failed in a few big games and you could feel there was a bit more scepticism," Wenger said.

One of those big home games, of course, was the corresponding fixture against Dortmund two weeks ago when Arsenal were defeated 2-1.

"I believe we lost the first game because we wanted to win it at any cost and we exposed ourselves. I don't think it will affect us. It will strengthen the resolve of my team to show a different level."

They will have to do that without Jack Wilshere. The midfielder did not travel to Germany and his involvement against Manchester United on Sunday will depend upon a test on his ankle.

It is a mark of Arsenal's improvement that the loss of Wilshere is a cause for irritation rather than major concern. In Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud they have two players who are attracting admiring gazes across Europe.

"What (Ozil) brings to the team is exceptional technical quality, vision and an absolute desire to play collectively with other players. He is a player who has only one master and that is football. That means he does always what the game demands."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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