High Hopes: Borussia Dortmund Preview

Cut and paste the post for the Dortmund away fixture …..

Except, Arsenal were in the midst of our terrible run and some of the players who have now bedded in were still struggling. That is not all, our Centre Backs had yet to be formally introduced and with Aaron out, Benayoun started.  The stadium was full of fervent  and expectant BD fans. For those who were three sheets to the wind in order to combat the nerves, BD equalised with a wonder goal in the 86th minute. A draw was a very good result given the circumstances.

Arsenal must surely be confident on the back of such a fine run of results, however the same can be said of BD who this weekend went to Munich and beat Bayern – never an easy task and even harder this season as Bayern rediscover their pedigree. BD know that should they lose tonight their CL adventure is all but over, they talk about tonight as a Cup Final. Coming to THOF will  give the Germans a huge challenge as they play in front of the best supporters in world football in the best stadium in world football – it could inspire them or petrify them, let us hope for the latter!

Nights like tonight are special – a slight chill, time to have a beer or two in the pub, some banter with mates, the floodlights, a full ground, top opposition; I wish I could be there – instead I will be sharing the experience with other AA’ers who are not so privileged.

60,000 Lucky Ones

A worry must be Koscielny playing at RB. True, he had a good game on Saturday but playing against Pilkington is very different to Kagawa who showed in Dortmund that he is a fine young player.  The improvement of our midfield 3 bodes well for the future. Arteta appears to have the football intelligence required to assist his young playmates –  Song looks better and Ramsey is improving weekly alongside the Spaniard who is proving to be an inspired signing.  Another huge difference is the return of The Verminator, what a monster player this man is.  He give us more defensive security, leads the team from the back, improves all the players around him, is superb coming forward and is all round a top, top player.

My Team:

* Raddy’s team selection has been amended following the late news that Gervinho will not be playing due to a personal problem.

Looking at the above team I ooze confidence. Santos is a different proposition to Gibbs (who played in the first leg), especially at home where he will have more opportunity to get forward – not that he needs an invitation ! Diaby is on the bench and we look forward to seeing him contribute during the coming months; if he can stay fit he is a marvellous albeit infuriating talent.  Should Walcott play as he did on Saturday I can see him on the scoresheet and we can only hope if AA plays in place of Gervinho, that he will prove as effective as the Ivorian has been lately. If our defence can keep them out, we will win.

A new BR feature for home games will be famous Arsenal fans and we start with Harry Beck. You may not be familiar with the name but you certainly are with his work. Harry created the schematic London Underground map which is a work of true beauty. Harry lived in Finchley Central and was a Gooner through the Chapman years dying  (happily) just after we won our first Double.

Harry wearing his favourite Arsenal away shorts. ( out of picture but take my word for it)

Where we have a major advantage is in the experience of our manager. Mr. Wenger will analyse  the previous fixture and make adjustments to the way we play. AW stated at his press conference that BD were in form and “developing,” He expects a fine game of attacking football, plenty of thrills and a topsy turvy night. So do I.

Written by BigRaddy

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175 Responses to High Hopes: Borussia Dortmund Preview

  1. SharkeySure says:

    Harry Becks favourite Arsenal shorts….lol

    Cracking start to my day….

    Cheers Mr Radders.

    Really looking fiorward to it already. 3- to the good guys. Thats bad news about Gervino, as he’s been electric. I think I read that they are missing a CB (Hummels) which is great news, as both their CBs played very well in the first game.

    3-1 to the Arse tonight.

    Morning all

  2. Can’t argue with your starting eleven BR, I would not be surprised, however, to see Oxlade-Chamberlain in place of Arshavin though.

    Was it Harry Beck who named the station Arsenal?

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi BR, a beautifully, well-rounded match report. I’m totally in the mood now :)

    Thanks for the Harry Beck reference. I worked in transport/London for quite a few years, but never knew that the London Tube Map was designed by a Gooner, who sounds like a beer as well! Top stuff as always Raddy.

  4. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Thanks for the update.

  5. Jamie says:

    Watched a lot of Dortmund, this season an last. They miss Sahin who is now at Madrid and Subotic who missed the Bayern game.

    They are a fighting team, similar to the Arsenal sides of the early Graham years. Gotze is a threat and Ledandowski is keep for hold up play.

    They we run Arsenal close if Arsenal don’t score early.

    I could see a draw and Arsenal wrapping it up in Athens.

    Dortmund are far better than Marseille. German league is very strong.

    I think Ramsey may be important, we need him arriving late in the box. Might be the best way to break them down.

  6. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy, no problem.

    I’m presuming the musical reference was this …. and not the Frank Sinatra song?

  7. SharkeySure says:

    LG – I think the answer’s no.

    I think it was Chapman (and the Board) who lobbied for the station name change from Avenell Road to its current name of such great splendour and magnificence.

  8. Timmy says:

    Nice post,

    looking forward to the match.
    1-0

  9. oz gunner says:

    @ Sharkey

    its subotic, out for 6 i read last week, which is a big plus.

    I’d prefer ox starting with AA replacing him at 60mins, AA is to down on confidence at the moment. Goetze needs to be watched carefully. We handled him well in Germany

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Jamie, German league is strong but Dortmund are not far better than Marseille. Marseille beat Dortmund comprehensively in the CL and they have some very good players throughout the team. Agree with you though that Dortmund will run us close tonight.

  11. oz gunner says:

    RAPHAEL HONIGSTEIN, THE GUARDIAN
    “They usually play a 4-5-1 which, in detail, works as a 4-3-2-1 very often. The two attacking players usually play quite narrow when they are not in possession, but have a license to go anywhere they like when Dortmund are attacking. It’s a very fluid system which is sometimes used to press the opposition very high up. But in recent games like against Bayern Munich on Saturday, they push them quite deep only in their own half.

    “That makes it a little bit more difficult for them to go forward and break, but in terms of their defensive stability it was probably the best I’ve ever seen them play.

    “I think it’s difficult to pigeon-hole them into a defensive or attacking strategy. They try to do both at the same time, like Barcelona at their very best. They will press you when not in possession and won’t simply sit back and wait. It’s just a question of where they press. They haven’t been able to do it quite as well as they did when they won the league last season but it really helped the back four against Bayern.

    “I think it will be a very similar game plan against Arsenal. They will have a go when they’re in possession but they are definitely not going to keep five players up the pitch. I can’t see that happening.

    “They have been playing really well recently. They’re almost back to their best – indeed, they have won six out of their last seven league games. The little blip they had at the start seems to be behind them.

    “They lost Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid and Lucas Barrios, who is their main forward, and they still haven’t fully recovered. Those two losses have weighed very heavy on Dortmund because they were key parts of the team last season. They have tried to find solutions – for example Robert Lewandowski is growing as a striker. He can hold up the ball but he is not quite the same poacher as Barrios.

    “In central midfield they’ve brought back the veteran Sebastian Kehl who has been playing with a number of different players – none of which have quite grown to the stature that Sahin had. It is still a bit of a problem for them.

    “Gotze has more or less fulfilled expectations this season – especially for Germany. He was sensational against Brazil in August and has been pretty good whenever he has played. For Dortmund he still shows a bit of inconsistency but there are little touches and spells where you can tell the tremendous potential he has.

    “I think Dortmund will really give it a go but I can’t see Arsenal losing so I’ll say a draw. But I think it’s going to be a really tough game for the Gunners.”

  12. Brigham says:

    Sharkey, Arsenal station was previously ‘Gillespie Road’ mate.

  13. SharkeySure says:

    Cheers Brig and and Oz…I’m zero for two this morning so far !!

    The only way is up..??

  14. oz gunner says:

    lets hope so Sharkey because your last prediction involves Arsenal winning. Based upon the law of averages your due for a correct guess. So it’s settled 3-1 to the mighty gunners

  15. Rasp says:

    I have to admit to being nervous about tonight’s game. I agree with Raddy’s analysis in the post – if our defence plays well we will not lose. We may well see some role reversal with Arsenal playing like the away team as Dortmund will attack us from the outset.

    I’d quite happily take a draw this evening and a win on Saturday to keep our resurgence on track.

  16. I am worried by the prospect of AA and Santos on the same flank.

  17. VSN,

    I think you have just clarified why I think Oxlade-Chamberlain would be better than Arshavin. Thank you.

  18. oz gunner says:

    could be a chance to play Yossi down the left. It certainly would quell the influence of Goetze. Santos + AA vs Goetze sounds dangerous

  19. SharkeySure says:

    Good shout VSN

  20. RockyLives says:

    Morning All
    Nice to be back in Blighty on a match day! I’m looking forward to meeting some of the AA gang tonight.

    Great pre-match BR (naturally). Love the celebrity fan idea and had no idea that the creator of the Tube Map was a Gunner.

    I think we all feel it’s going to be tough tonight. Theo could be very important, but from that description of how Dortmund play (thanks Oz) he may not get a lot of space.

    Vikram
    Good call about Santos/AA. I wouldn’t mind seeing Yossi start.

  21. Rasp says:

    Morning Rocky, you missed yesterday’s fantachetic post – were you mid air?

  22. Rasp,

    Surely you’re not suggesting Rocky was high!

  23. Gooner In Exile says:

    Morning all (ok just afternoon but it was morning when I started).

    I think last nights results prove nothing is guaranteed in CL and we need to be on top of our game to get a good result. By the way that “we” refers to us the fans in ground.

    We need to express no nervousness as I’m sure for big games it transfers to the team.

    We need the team to go about their job with only one thing on their mind “the game” not the pillock in Row 9 telling Arshavin he is fat and useless.

    If Arsh gets the nod tonight the crowd need to get behind him.

    He is on Twitter now and his timeline and banter with Jack suggests he is not as sulky and insular as many think.

  24. Gooner In Exile says:

    In the first game BD pressed very well so we need to be sharp from the first minute, this is where Song needs to be on his game as so often he can get caught in possession in opening minutes and the resulting tackle/foul could put him on a yellow.

    Also Santos and Arsh will not be able to be so relaxed with their passing as BD will make us pay.

    But perhaps we should start with the wingers swapped so Walcott in front of Santos and Arsh in front of Kozzer…for two reasons.

    1) Kozzer will not commit forward so if Arsh gives it away we should be solid behind.

    2) Theo has pace (and now discipline) to fill in for his marauding full back if needed. Also it gives him the chance of arriving in the box on his right foot as Micky often suggests.

  25. Rasp says:

    :lol: LG, I’m hoping Rocky will be high on the oxygen of success this evening (fuelled by Peroni) but no, I suspect he was mid Atlantic yesterday!

  26. oz gunner says:

    good call GiE on the swapping flanks idea, i like it
    and theo down the left is something that will definently please Micky

  27. RockyLives says:

    Hi Rasp
    Yes, travelling yesterday – but I did get time to read 26′s very funny post. Gave me a good chuckle. They’re all mad for ‘Movember’ in Canada, so there’s bad fuzz everywhere you look. Not my thing though.

  28. Rasp says:

    STOP PRES!!!!!!!!!

    2 tickets have unexpectedly become available for tonight’s game, anyone interested should leave a comment on here and we’ll put you in touch with the cardholder.

  29. oz gunner says:

    @ Rocky

    is there such a thing as bad fuzz? burt reynolds, tom selleck, and walter cronkite made careers out of it

  30. GIE,
    Theo on the left would be a good idea, but right now, I wouldnt want to change his position.
    The idea of Kozzer and Theo worked so well bcoz Kozzer dint roam forward too much which meant Theo had to stay out wide. And Theo also tracked back.
    AA on the other hand might not, which would mean the gap between Kozzer and AA would be too wide and BD might exploit that.

    And also, with Santos acting as a winger most of the time, Benayoun would be the better option as he can cut in and track back as well.

  31. Rasp says:

    Nice debate but I think we are all forgetting that this is Arsène Wenger we’re talking about – the man who decided to go all out attack against manu when 3:1 down :P

    I’d bet dandan’s house, furnished with London’s sofa that he plays Arshavin in place of Gerv.

    On that note, I do hope that Gerv’s personal problems will not affect him for long. I suspect that Chamakh’s lay off for 6 weeks last Xmas was for emotional reasons rather than being ‘tired’

  32. oz gunner says:

    @ VSN

    I disagree, Kozzer could handle it, plus arteta and Song are more mindful of thier positioning allowing for good coverage. Regardless of who plays where i think BD will be attacking Santos and putting everything through Goetze. For that reason i agree Yossi would be ideal in front of Santos.

    Besides the opening 10 mins Santos didn’t give anything to Sturridge and Bosingwa. So hopefully if AA and Santos attack Goetze might have to be more mindful defensively like VDV had to for spurs.

  33. gunnern5 says:

    A little bit of history on the Arsenal tube station.

    …………………………………………………………………………………….

    Arsenal tube station was opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) as Gillespie Road on 15 December 1906.] The GNP&BR later renamed the Piccadilly line after the consolidation & nationalisation of the Tube network as London Underground. The original station building and ticket hall were red terracotta-clad buildings designed by Leslie Green, similar to neighbouring Holloway Road and Caledonian Road stations.

    At the time of Gillespie Road’s construction, it served a residential area and a local divinity college. In 1913, Arsenal Football Club moved to Highbury on the site of the college’s playing fields, and the club’s presence there eventually led to a campaign for a change of name. Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman was a particularly keen advocate, and on 5 November 1932 it was renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill). The station was expanded in the 1930s, with the original station building demolished and being replaced with a wider building of a more modern design.

    The (Highbury Hill) suffix was dropped from the station’s name some time around 1960, giving the current name of Arsenal. The original tiled walls of the platforms still bear the Gillespie Road name, spelt out in large letters. In 2007, the station underwent a major upgrade; as part of this the wall tiling was completely restored, the floor resurfaced and an electronic Tannoy system introduced

  34. 26may1989 says:

    Greetings from Bombay, friends.

    Is it definitely true that Gerv is out of the game tonight? I can’t see any story confirming it, including the official arse.com preview.

    If it is true, the safe bet would be to play Benayoun, though I do like the idea of the more attacking option, Ox on the right and Theo on the left. All academic of course, Arshavin will play.

    I’m with Rasp, we should feel nervous about Dortmund. They just beat Bayern in their own backyard and that demands respect. But I still predict a narrow victory to us.

    Can anyone recommend a good Internet stream for tonight? Or could one of our Indian readers point me in the direction of a bar that might be showing the game – I’m struggling to find anywhere right now.

  35. oz gunner says:

    haha that is true Rasp. Quick we are down 3-1 take off Coq and put on the Ox. If that had of gone our way it would of been hailed a tactical master stroke!

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Interesting debate. GiE could well be right but then also Rasp is making sense. Let me throw in another option: Wenger to play Diaby in Gervinho’s position tonight. I am not sure who fit he is to start, and he probably will only come on as a substitute, but he is our best mix in helping out defense/tracking back and creating things in attack (and he has played there before).

    By the way, did you see Fergie storming out on the journalists (see BBC website)? Touchy, touchy, feely, feely Fergie :P

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    who = how

  38. oz gunner says:

    @ 26

    but could BD have played their big game on the weekend? There is a chance they hyped themselves up for the big match at bayern, yet come out flat against us. I believe they call it ‘Blockbuster Fatigue’, they might be zapped from giving everything they had for that game.

    Heres hoping!

    And anyway it’s the mighty emirates, teams come here and worry! Not the other way around, case in point Barca!

  39. Rasp says:

    On a lighter note, that Gareth Bale is a bit trigger happy don’t you think?

  40. oz gunner says:

    @ TA

    but would that set us up too defensively. That’s Song, Diaby, and Arteta who could be classified as box to box midfielders. If we were going for drastic i’d chuck in MC and put RVP out on the left. Could create an aerial threat with subotic out!

  41. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp, very funny :)

  42. gunnern5 says:

    From Arsenal.com

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    By Richard Clarke

    On Wednesday night, for only the second time in his short Arsenal career, Per Mertesacker will NOT go into a game looking to learn.

    At 6ft 6ins tall, the German defender will always be an eye-catching performer. And the unrelenting scrutiny of the Premier League means there is nowhere to hide even if he were that way inclined (and he is not by the way).

    Take the first goal against Norwich on Saturday where Mertesacker was muscled off the ball by Steve Morison. Approaching 80 caps for Germany cannot guarantee you protection from a culture shock. It will, however, help you recover more quickly.

    But, on Wednesday, the 26-year-old faces a known enemy – Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund in a crucial Champions League clash.

    Arsène Wenger’s side will qualify for the Knockout Stages for the 12th straight season with a victory. That, and a point for Olympiacos, would see them top Group F.

    On the eve of the game, the manager was backing his ‘biggest’ summer signing with words and, more importantly, actions. The Frenchman firmly believes this tall tale will have a happy ending.

    “When Per came here he was not completely fit,” said Wenger. “But now he is getting stronger and stronger. I felt on Saturday he had not recovered from Germany’s game with Holland and looked tired. He has recovered now and will play tomorrow.

    “In England, when you’re in front of the striker you have not won the battle. In many countries you have. But they fight till the last second here.

    “Of course he is under pressure and scrutiny. Yet you don’t feel sorry for a situation like that because it’s what happens at a big club.

    “However he is intelligent and he will adapt quickly. He is very responsible as well. He didn’t complain about a possible free-kick [on the Morison goal] because he was pulled down. He just said he should have cleared it earlier.”

    Mertsacker first showed his mettle to the Arsenal fans in the away game at Dortmund on Matchday One. Robin van Persie snatched the lead for the visitors, they then soaked up waves of pressure before conceding a wonder-strike from Ivan Perisic in the dying seconds.

    The result set up a confident Group Stage campaign and provided a crucial fillip during an indifferent Premier League start.

    Sealing top spot in the return game would give a certain sense of closure to a side whose success is snowballing right now.

    Tomas Rosicky (thigh) dropped out just ahead of the final training session on Tuesday but his disappointment allows Abou Diaby to be drafted into the squad for the first time this season.

    Like Arsenal, Dortmund have hauled themselves back into contention in their domestic League with an impressive run – P7 W6 D1 L0. They won 1-0 at Bayern Munich on Saturday to move up to second. But they are still playing catch-up in the Champions League. Defeat on Wednesday would leave them relying Marseille on losing their last two.

    You could not have predicted that one Matchday One when Mario Gotze et al manipulated the Dortmund attacks so cleverly.

    When the German champions were drawn out of Pot 4, it seemed to have changed the face of Group F. Only now are they living up to their billing as top-two candidates.

    “Both teams have improved since that first game,” said Wenger. “We have grown, they have grown. We have had a similar ‘parcours’ since the start of the season.

    “We had a difficult start, they had a difficult start and we have both picked up since. They were a good team already in Dortmund but we feel strong enough to be at home and finish the job.

    “We have come from far. You could see the game at Chelsea has helped the team to improve. Our consistency has helped the team improve. And qualifying from the Champions League group will give us a lift again.

    “This game is a cup tie because we have an opportunity in one game to qualify.

    “Every player and every member of staff is conscious that it is a big night for us. It’s a very important one. It’s another big test for our solidity and we will go into the game with that attitude, concentration and desire to win the game. We think we can do it.

    “We have a good record at home in the Champions League and we want of course to continue that.”

    That, by the way, is an understatement. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 12 Emirates Stadium games in the competition and had won eight in a row before the goalless draw against Marseille last time out.

    You have to go back to September 2003 for the last defeat in a Group Stage tie. A 3-0 defeat to Inter Milan when Obafemi Martins overpowered Arsenal’s centre-back pairing of Campbell and Toure.

    In football years, that is several generations ago.

    Right now, you sense the adolescence of Wenger’s current team will undergo another significant growth spurt if they can win Group F on Wednesday night.

    And Mertesacker’s local knowledge will help.

    Team news
    Arsenal – Sagna (ankle), Gibbs (stomach), Rosicky (thigh), Wilshere (ankle)
    Dortmund – Kagawa (doubt – toothache)

    Referee: Frank de Bleeckere (Belgium)
    Tomas Rosicky will face a Uefa suspension if he is booked.
    Arsenal have currently scored 247 European Cup/Champions Legaue goals, conceding 149.
    Arsenal have won their last five European home ties against German opposition.
    Tomas Rosicky scored 19 goals in 149 Bundesliga games between 2000 and 2006.

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    It’s just a gut-feeling Oz, but I feel Diaby might play there at some point this evening. I like your ‘drastic’ proposal too. We’ll probably start with Arshavin though: as Rasp suggests, that is the most Wenger-like option.

  44. gunnern5 says:

    BR: Yet another great pre-game, I’d never heard of Harry Beck before but I’m so glad that you introduced him to us.

    Here is a little more of his background.

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    In 1947, when he was not fully employed (having left London Transport) he began teaching typographics and colour design at the London School of Printing and Kindred Trades.

    After long failing to acknowledge Beck’s importance as the original designer of the Tube map, London Regional Transport finally created the Beck gallery at the London Transport Museum in the early 1990s, where his works can be seen. A commemorative plaque was put up at Finchley Central tube station. Beck’s home at 60 Courthouse Road, Finchley was marked with a plaque by the Finchley Society in 2003.[4] Since 2001, Transport for London has also started to credit Beck for the original idea on the modern Tube maps.

    In March 2006, viewers of BBC2′s The Culture Show and visitors to London’s Design Museum voted Harry Beck’s Tube map as their second-favourite British design of the 20th century in the Great British Design Quest. The winner was Concorde.[5]

    In January 2009, the Royal Mail issued a set of postage stamps celebrating British design classics,[6] among them was the contemporary version of the London Underground diagram.

    GB Railfreight named locomotive 66721 after Beck.

  45. Big Raddy says:

    26. Last time i was in Mumbai I stayed at the Hotel Marine Plaza (recommended) on Marine Drive. They showed football in a few of the hotel bars along the Drive.

    Or try this place sorry about the long link!

    ttp://maps.google.com/maps/place?rdu=http://www.allsportsbar.in/&rdj=google.nyc.c.j_qvvMTpK_FYmfOpSo4YcP_2642380227_2&hl=en&gl=us&sig=5bW&lumarker=A&bih=913&biw=1472&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=sports+bars+mumbai&fb=1&gl=us&cid=16601050026353420127&ei=CPzMTqFKzO058e-Iqg8&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=photo-link&cd=2&resnum=1&ved=0CAYQnwIoATAA

  46. TotalArsenal says:

    GN5, thanks for all the interesting articles you are posting here :)

  47. oz gunner says:

    good call TA, i also feel Diaby will make a guest appearance at some stage, most likely at the expence of AA. Although, that depends on the scoreline i guess. If it’s close we will most likely see Djourou come on to shore up the defence, or Yossi.

    my guess is:

    Yossi on for AA around 70mins
    Diaby on for Ramsey around 87mins

  48. gunnern5 says:

    TA: Thanks for saying Thanks…………..

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha Oz, you are a man of timely precision :)

    You will be watching this game about 9am with some vegimite on toast, right?

    Btw, I saw this article this morning on BBC website which you might find interesting:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15799571

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Gn5,

    I agree with the above – the articles are always interesting.

    Rasp. Much as I love PF and in particular The Division Bell, it was the Doris Day/Sinatra song I was referring to….

    “When troubles call, and your back’s to the wall
    There a lot to be learned, that wall could fall”

    I like the Benayoun ploy. He did well in the away leg.

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    G5, it will be a mid-afternoon kick-off for you, right? Too early to have a beer with the football, or does that rule not count for you?

  52. oz gunner says:

    Unfortunently no TA, its on at 3.45, normally id watch it but i have a forensics exam in the morning, i’m gutted. I’m not the sort of person who can handle watching delayed games without checking the score either so it’n never as good. I’d give the english breki a go but i’d probably nod off half way through the exam haha

    I’ll give the article a read, cheers

    @ G5

    also love the articles, never really get a chance to read/find other arsenal related articles (most of it isn’t worth it), so much appreciated

  53. oz gunner says:

    Enjoy the game TA and co, very jealous of those in attendance.

    Come on the mighty gunners.
    3-1

    hard pfft it’s going to be a walk in the park i feel

  54. gunnern5 says:

    TA: It’s a 2:45 pm kick off. I don’t drink beer but the wine will start flowing at game time and maybe a wee sip of 25 year old “The Macallan”.

    I`ll be watching with my son and grandson- it`s important to keep Arsenal as family affair. My grandson is the fifth generation of my family to support the Arsenal, going back to my grandfather who watched the first game at Highbury.

    We are fortunate here in Canada as we get around 6 live EPL games each week plus 4 to 6 CL games, it`s been years since I was unable to watch an Arsenal game – although occasionally I watch them on a delayed basis.

  55. Big Raddy says:

    oz. Good luck with your exam. A walk in the park ….

  56. 26

    I am in Mumbai right now. :)

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    Sounds great GN5. Nice to hear you have close family with you there in Canada, with whom you can watch the game.

    Oz, good luck with your exams. I doubt you will get much sleep tonight though: too much going on in your mind!

  58. TotalArsenal says:

    Here is something to get us going. It is absolutely amazing how many of the goal scorers are no longer with us, but nevertheless, they are all fine Arsenal memories. Where is VCC btw?

  59. Rasp,

    I’d just love one of those spare tickets but as it would take a minimum of three hours to get to the Emirates and almost as long to convince my wife of the wisdom of doing so, I’ll have to give it a miss.

    Whoever gets the tickets please give the Glorious Gunners a cheer form me.

  60. Rasp says:

    Shame LG, some other time maybe? A drink at the Tavern beforehand is obligatory so we can put a face to the blog persona

  61. Gooner In Exile says:

    LG 2 hours Norwich to Liv St. Leave on 4:30pm you’ll be in at 6:30pm can to Tavern pick up tickets alls good.

    That’s assuming you can make Norwich station in 20 minutes.

  62. Gooner In Exile says:

    Can = cab

  63. Gooner In Exile says:

    Right see those I see at Tavern, battery already half gone twittering too much. Will leave everything alone now so I have battery for way home.

  64. Rasp,

    I’d be happy to join you at The Tavern but for a very small libation as it would be in the middle of six hours driving.

    Some time in the future I hope.

  65. Hi gang

    Sorry haven’t had time to read the comments. Hope everyone that’s going tonight has their thermals on.

    Anything I need to know …………

    evonne – you have my wonderful snug Arsenal scarf, not your fault I know :(

  66. California Gooner says:

    Great write-up BR. Having watched the last few games in the expert company of BR in Copenhagen, I will be watching this match at Shakespeare’s in San Diego, which has a great group of Arsenal supporters… if any of you fancy a trip out to San Diego, that is the place to watch.

  67. Can I have a volunteer for a match report please …….. TA?

  68. Big Raddy says:

    San Diego sounds great. I will be there in spirit.

  69. Gooner In Exile says:

    Bloody thermals? Made mistake of wearing a base layer and have just completed my mission to get tickets (I’ll learn which way turnstiles go one day….burning up)

    Irish if you’re in Tavern brief description would be useful! I’m in Tavern….just about to go outside to smoke the nerves away… Pint of Guinness, new home shirt, jeans, track suit top and sweating like buggery.

  70. 26may1989 says:

    Raddy, thanks for the tips. I’ve managed to bully my hotel to put it on, requires negotiation as kick off is after midnight here.

    And VSN, a shame I wasn’t more organised, we could’ve met up to watch the game! But enjoy!

  71. Gooner In Exile says:

    By all accounts Dortmund fans will be dotted all over tonight, spoke to a couple wearing colours who are sitting North Bank Lower!

  72. TotalArsenal says:

    Team in full: Szczesny, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.

    Substitutes: Fabianski, Djourou, Diaby, Frimpong, Benayoun, Arshavin, Chamakh.

  73. evonne says:

    SS – you evil person!!! Why did you scare me about Gervinho?????

  74. Big Raddy says:

    15 mins gone. So far so good …..

    Emirates is rocking

  75. Big Raddy says:

    Where are all the armchair fans. I need some banter to help with the nerves,

  76. evonne says:

    TA – Peaches wants to know if you doing the match report

    Raddy – all is well, calm down and enjoy

  77. We’ll smash them second half.

  78. Big Raddy says:

    Talking to myself but …… this is a very good game. Not many chances but great defending and some fine skills.

    We had a slow start as BD came at us, but towards the end of the half we got on the front foot.

    I think our midfield are working their socks off, actually the whole team is. BD have yet to have a chance.

    Good for us that 2 BD’s are off though I would like to have seen more of Gotze

    My man of the half? Theo. He has shown pace and energy and has been dangerous.

  79. evonne says:

    GM – absolutely!!

  80. Big Raddy says:

    Ah some friends …..

  81. Not in a richard keys way though :)

  82. Are you going to the CC game against sgitty evonne?

  83. Song is doing well too.

  84. decent results last night too. The mancs could both go out. dirty scum

  85. Oh well off to watch the 2nd half

  86. 26may1989 says:

    Hi Raddy. Not sure I feel quite as positive. Yes, our guys have worked very hard (as BD have) but even with less possession and the loss of two players BD have created more chances than we have so far. That said, moment of the half was Ramsey and Theo linking up and very nearly creating a tap-in for the otherwise shackled RvP. I absolutely agree Theo is our danger man at the moment.

  87. Big Raddy says:

    I should amend my half assessment.

    I had fogotten all the misplaced passes. Almost everyone was guilty. Song put us in deep trouble with a terrible cross field pass, Arteta the same , and Gerv has had real problems finding a team-mate.

    I must have been swayed by the last 10 mins (and the merlot :-) )

  88. Big Raddy says:

    GM. BR is in top form thank you. How is GM?

  89. evonne says:

    GM – no, I am going to the Fulham game this Saturday. Are you?

  90. Fatgingergooner says:

    Our central midfielders are lacking the ability to beat therir man. If you can beat your marker then suddenly you are in loads of space and it drags another defender out which creates space for someone else.

    Many will say we lack creativity but I think it’s beating the first man that gives the team the space to be creative. It’s was Nasri and Fabregas did so well at the beginning of last season but the midfield we have at the moment look like they don’t want to make a mistake and therefore are not willing to try and take on their marker.

  91. Big Raddy says:

    Come on Reds. Wake up!!

  92. SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  93. 26may1989 says:

    What a goal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  94. Big Raddy says:

    What a goal!!!!! Get in

  95. Fatgingergooner says:

    Think Song has just proved my point!!!

    What a goal!

  96. 26may1989 says:

    You just know the bleedin journos will bang on about van Persie being our only player – but what play from Alex Song, definitely one for his showreel.

  97. Big Raddy says:

    Now the game will open up.

    RvP is the total dogs

  98. evonne says:

    WHAT ABOUT THE MATCH REPORT – Peaches is doing my head in!!!

  99. 26may1989 says:

    Schmeltzer is definitely one we should target, a weak spot for them.

    Got to admit, if I were a Dortmund fan, I’d be feeling a little bit robbed right now.

  100. Big Raddy says:

    FGG I see your point but we play a different way until JW comes back

  101. 26may1989 says:

    Well done for volunteering to do the match report evonne. ;)

  102. Big Raddy says:

    evonne. It must be your turn to do the post match

  103. 26may1989 says:

    Definitely no high defensive line tonight, TV and PM are sitting pretty deep.

  104. 26may1989 says:

    Was a little harder for Gerv than it might have looked but he still should have done much better. Great play to break their defence like that though.

  105. evonne says:

    26may and Raddy – do you really want to read my report, consisting mostly of comments who’s the best looking player, how many Polish players there were on the pitch and how i dislike that schmelzer frelzer?
    No, I didn’t think so :)

    Where is TA??

  106. Fatgingergooner says:

    Gerv did the keeper but should av realised that the defenders were getting back.

    Got a bit of the Kanu about him in front of goal. Always looking to walk it in

  107. evonne says:

    Gingar darling, could you do the match report for tomorrow? Pretty please

  108. 26may1989 says:

    Evonne, having discovered that you fancy Rory Delap, I’d be curious about your thoughts on the best looking players!

    Marseille and Olympiakos are still 0-0, but bad news is that the Chavs are winning.

  109. Fatgingergooner says:

    Song has been immense.

    How good is TV in the air!?

    N how fun/dangerous is it to have a Brazilian ball juggler playing as your LB!!!???

    I think Santos is my new favourite player!

  110. Big Raddy says:

    Ramsey has been great this half

  111. Big Raddy says:

    I would like to see Gerv subbed for Bennie

  112. Big Raddy says:

    AW must read AA. Or does PR who gives him the message :-)

  113. evonne says:

    Alex Song is the best looking dude tonight, no doubt about it. And the German coach :)

    Seriously guys, Peaches tasked me with finding a writer, PLEASE help

    Ginga – mine’s Jenkison

  114. 26may1989 says:

    Chelsea have been pegged back.

  115. evonne says:

    Raddy – great minds think alike, you and AW :)

  116. 26may1989 says:

    FGG’s said it already, but Song this half has been superb.

  117. 26may1989 says:

    Ohmygod, the cat’s out of the bag, Raddy is Wenger!

    evonne, yup, so far it’s a draw between Leverkeusen and Chelsea.

  118. Big Raddy says:

    This ref is getting silly. 3 yellows for absolutely nothing.

    He must be Swiss

  119. 26may1989 says:

    And Valencia are having a field-day with Genk, 7-0 so far.

  120. evonne says:

    I hate the last 10 minutes…it’s always a nerve wrecking exercise for us

  121. 26may1989 says:

    Belgian, Raddy. Same thing.

  122. evonne says:

    26 – like chocolates, belgian or swiss, doesn’t matter, as long as there is plenty of them

  123. Fatgingergooner says:

    On it now for u Evonne.

    Will send u my address so u can put the Xmas pressie in the post!

  124. evonne says:

    Koscielny completed 73% of the passes, that’s bloody good. What’s the average for Barca?

  125. 26may1989 says:

    All over!!!!!!!!

    Where were the defenders????

  126. evonne says:

    Ginga – are you writing the match report??? really???

  127. 26may1989 says:

    Olympiakos are winning.

  128. Big Raddy says:

    TV has been watching Tony Adams. That goal was proper Old School.

    Perhaps we are a one man team but I just love the one man.

    Oooh some interesting developments. Chelsea losing. Olimpiakos beating Marseilles.

  129. 26may1989 says:

    Shame to concede – and great as he’s been, have to blame Song for giving possession away there.

  130. 26may1989 says:

    Chelsea are losing!!!!

  131. evonne says:

    SS – I was right about the result :)

  132. evonne says:

    Chavs lost, chavs lost, ha ahaa ha ha :)

  133. Big Raddy says:

    So the team who were in Crisis a few weeks ago are the only British team into the next round and the only one to win this week.

    Top work from our new boys, as FGG says there may not be the skill level we had in midfield in recent years but we have men who work so hard and are capable of clinical passing. Song for RvP, Ramsey for Gerv +++

  134. 26may1989 says:

    This is just great, we can relax on matchday 6 knowing it’s job done while the other three English sides are all under enormous pressure! Love it.

    OK, I have to go to bed, it’s 3.15am here and I have a breakfast meeting. Oh dear……..

    Sleep tight, friends.

  135. Big Raddy says:

    And we are top of our group.

    Very happy with the performance and looking forward to Evonne’s post match, full of Poles, whci players are good looking etc.

    Time for a nightcap and bed,

  136. evonne says:

    good night Raddy xx

    Ginga – Peaches is over the moon with you!!

  137. evonne says:

    Villas Boas still thinks his job is safe, formidable optimism

  138. LB says:

    Songinho

    Man of the match by a million miles.

    Hot damn that was good, great to meet so many AAers before the game, I even met Rocky and his son after the game.

    Happy, happy happy.

  139. Fatgingergooner says:

    Report done and sent.

    Tell Peaches to let me know if not got it

  140. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Very proud of the club tonight, lets keep going and see were we are come May.

    Make no mistake, if we can keep this squad together, next season we will be Champions.

  141. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Evonne, only just read your earlier pleas for a match report writer and it comes as no surprise that your superior persuasion skills have again found a willing victim :) Well done!

    What a great result and a fantastic 2nd half performance by our boys. I am so impressed with Wenger’s ability to improve his team’s performance in the second half once again. We were robust throughout but in the second half we added that little bit of quality that saw us through. Up and onwards we go!

  142. Thanks FGG – report received, you are a star xx

  143. SharkeySure says:

    I actually missed he last 22 mins due to my sky box playing up, I was attempting to watch it on time delay after getting back from my sons footie training.

    I loved the seriousness and patience of our first half performance in the face of some sustained and full on BD pressure. This team really is growing into something special.

    Gerv was Ok tonight, but he will only get better and etter as he settles in.

    Some of Song’s detractors must have had some serious heartburn when he created that goal out of absolutely nothing.

  144. Have to go to bed chaps, catch up tomorrow.

    Fantastic display from our ‘team in crisis’ lol

  145. SharkeySure says:

    Fair do’s ETL …you did call it !!

    Night all

  146. TotalArsenal says:

    Just read that Bender broke his jaw (after collision with TV). Ouch.

  147. Fatgingergooner says:

    Peaches,

    I have sent u a revised version of the match report. I’m a bit of a perfectionist with these things, sorry!

  148. RockyLives says:

    Some greats…

    Great game – two good footballing teams both playing well.

    Great performance by Songinho.

    Great result.

    And great to finally meet some more AA-ers (I’d only met Rasp and Peaches up until tonight). So, can I just say to LB, Carlito, GiE, Irish and Chas that it really was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you all.

    Fine Gunners and fine people all of you…

  149. RockyLives says:

    Sky News were running a ticker tape headline saying “Arsenal scrape to 2-1 win over Dortmund.”

    Presumably a Spud works in their news room.

  150. oz gunner says:

    @ Rocky

    its ridiculous some of the headlines we get. Yet when manu win by a goal or draw it’s nothing but positives for them!

    @ TA + BR

    cheers for the goodlucks, greatly appreciated.

    Looking forward to watching the game, sounds like a cracker. Very surprised to read Arsene openly mention interest in Goetze. Very unlike him.

    @ Evonne

    Haha your pressuring throughout the match is hilarious, having never met peaches i can only imagine just how much pressure she piled on you to find someone to do a match report haha. Poor Poor FGG

  151. oz gunner says:

    The 19-year-old German international had to be substituted against the Gunners during BVB’s Champions League defeat on Wednesday night, but the Frenchman asserted his eagerness to buy the player.
    “For me, Mario Gotze is a player for the future,” Wenger told German TV station SAT1 TV after the match.

    “He is very talented, has a great attitude. It’s no surprise to me that all big European clubs show interest in him, as we do also.”

    Wenger’s statement comes after Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp, said his wonder kid will not be sold in the January transfer window earlier on in the day.

    The Gunners’ interest in the German starlet is longstanding. As revealed by Goal.com in August the north London outfit failed with a summer swoop for the Dortmund star.

    Reflecting on his side’s performance, Wenger reaffirmed his confidence in his squad, before praising the goalscoring form of captain Robin van Persie, insisting that the striker can soon be mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    “If he keeps going on like that, of course,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “Let him play and see at the end of the season. He is the leader of the team as well so what is important is that he leads the team to success.

    “I feel he’s exceptional player and happy that he can show that.”

    The Dutchman was on hand to score both of his side’s goals, for the second match running, as the Gunners secured their qualification to the last 16 by winning Group F with a match to spare.

    “I always said the group of players are willing, intelligent and focused and we can see that because we are consistent so overall I am very happy,” Wenger continued.

    “We are in a very difficult group and we can see that again tonight with Olympiakos winning in Marseille. I’m very proud that we came top of the group.”

  152. Gooner In Exile says:

    Morning all. Arrived home at 2am having missed the 10:30 train due to bloody buses.

    Anyway first off great to meet up with Rocky and Irish (two more AAers with face to name). Had a lot of fun pre match with quite a few liquid enhancements. Good to spend a bit longer with LB too. Most enjoyable chatter.

    For Rasp and LB I have one thing to say “Bunjaku”.

    As for game I really can’t do match reports if at the game as I miss too much trying to sing. I was in the Clock End upper with five/six Dortmund fans to my left, and it took a lot of effort to get Arsenal fans nearby involved in trying to get some singing going. Moved round at half time to join Peaches and Rasp and bumped into Carlito so sat with him and his mates for second half.

    Biggest annoyance was people streaming for exits after the second went in. Surely the team deserve cheering off the pitch after that result.

    Songs skill for the first goal was superb, a great header from RvP though as still had a lot to do. The second was great too a near post flick from TV that Steve Bould would have been proud of and Robin in the right place again.

    For me MotM was Arteta he makes us so much more solid. Honourable mentions to Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos and Kozzer who had it all tied up at the back. Theo and Gerv both showed willing, and RvP is RvP…class.

    Looking forward to Saturday so much.

    Club in Crisis?

  153. Big Raddy says:

    Having seen the quality of our oppsition, I can only agree with AW. This was a very difficult group.

    Marseilles were very good and yet got beaten at home by the Greeks, who now have a good chance to come second ( assuming we will send the CC team to Athens). And BD are rightfully German Champions.

    It must be said that BD were missing both of first choice CB’s and there must be some doubt whether RvP would have been given such leeway in the centre of the box had they been playing. If AFC had given away those goals, serious questions would have been asked.

    As Oz says, unusual for AW to make such a statement about Goetze. Perhaps we really did offer €30m for him – but where would he play?

    My MoM. Not so simple to find one standout player. For me the midfield 3 were outstanding with Song just shading it. But Kos had a fine game as did Theo and Robin bagged another brace.

  154. Gooner In Exile says:

    “Sven Bender was taken off on a stretcher after he was accidentally kicked in the face by Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen”

    Double ouch

    “Tommys gonna get ya”

  155. evonne says:

    Some are buzzing today :) Morning GiE

    Oz – Peaches is lovely (she can confirm), but her boss can be a bit grumpy. Morning Rasp

    Alex Song. And I was so worried he would turn up like his Pool uncle. Wow, what a guy!! I love watching him walk, as if he didn’t have a bone in his body. He’s plenty of brains though, that was a very mature and intelligent performance!

  156. Gooner In Exile says:

    “Peaches is lovely (she can confirm)”
    :D

  157. oz gunner says:

    @ Evonne

    i just love how so many said he was nothing and couldn’t lace essiens bootlaces. Oh how they were wrong, i wouldn’t trade him for any DM’s in the world. More importantly when he needs a rest we have coq and frim coming through.

    @ BR

    i have no idea where we could stick him, but hey i’d love to have him. Perhaps if AA goes another Attacking midfielder/winger to have. Besides JW we don’t really have an attacking midfielder as i see Ramsey more as a box to box. If AA goes its only Gerv and Ryo down the left so could be used down that side. I don’t see him down the right with theo and the ox.

    oh happy days!

  158. Gooner In Exile says:

    Our Season really started in September since then:

    P16 W13 L2 D1 GF32 GA17

    Unbeaten in 9 games

    That’s cracking form.

  159. evonne says:

    GiE – had we started in August….gosh, we would have been champions!! Never mind, better late than never :)

    I am a proud Gunner.

    Waiting for FGG’s match report

  160. pat says:

    What an awesome goal that Song set up – I could watch that over and over that bit of skill to beat those players and float in that cross. It looked great even on the crappy internet stream – cant wait to watch the recorded game – wasn’t on live here in NZ and missed the last two goals as the stream started freezing up… the boys are looking good. Happy days alright!

  161. pat says:

    Oh and Mr RVP is Mr Robin Van Perfect… so so good!

  162. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    It was a fantastic Emirates evening last night – second only to our 2:1 against Barca.

    Great to meet up with Rocky, GiE, LB, irish, chas and Carlito at the Tavern, my jaw was aching from laughing as much as my vocal chords were strained during the game.

    I can’t believe the subdued nature of some of the press reports. That was a fantastic professional mature performance against a very good side. For the second time in succession, we were the only English team to win in the CL and already qualified in first place – you could not ask for more.

  163. pat says:

    I guess the press treatment of the gunners is expected these days – doesn’t bother me as much it used too (still does a bit though!), as the boys are doing the talking on the pitch and we have great blogs like this one that have the great information and discussion. Top of the group – well done Arsenal!

    Got only one more week to go of study before holidays and then I can start threatening to author a post on how great Thomas Vermaelen is (but you all know that already :-)). Another great day to be an Arsenal fan!

  164. chas says:

    Superb to meet Rocky, Irish (and her twitter mates) and LB for the first time.
    Peaches, Rasp, GIE and Carlito now seem like friends I’ve known for a very long time. :)

    Man of the match for me was Santos. That boy is such a footballer, great feet, comfortable on the ball, defends with his brain and adds so much going forward. The way he looks like he’s blowing out of his a*se after 5 minutes but still giving it his all after 90 is a joy to behold.

  165. Rasp says:

    Let’s bask in the glory of last night’s performance with this…..

    ….. New post ……..

  166. RockyLives says:

    Morning All
    Such a fun night.
    As I said, great meeting everyone before the game – and I even bumped into LB again afterwards (he was busy assaulting someone with his bicycle :) ).

    Song was MoTM for me – fantastic defensive work plus that Brazilian shimmy to set up the first goal.

    But again, the most pleasing thing was the overall team performance and the obvious togetherness of this group of players.

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