Champions League football: Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund, 7:30pm Sky 1, Sky Sports 1 (kick-off 7:45pm)
Arsenal face Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium this evening and must win to retain a chance of topping their Champions League Group.
It has not been an easy time for the North London side of late and they currently sit eighth in the Premiership following a morale-sapping home loss to Manchester United on Saturday despite dominating the match.
For their part, Borussia Dortmund have been on even worse domestic form this season. The German side are currently 16th in the Bundesliga having taken just 11 points from 12 games. They have, however, won four out of four of their games so far in European competition, including a comfortable 2-0 victory against the Gunners in September.
Arsenal’s German centre-back Per Mertesacker is overdue a big showing tonight following his team’s struggles in defence, while his central defensive partner of choice Laurent Koscielny returns from an achilles injury.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere is out with a damaged ankle, as is Wojciech Szczesny, while striker Olivier Giroud is fit but has not been registered for the tournament, having made a speedier than expected return from injury. Still, Arsenal will take heart from the fact that key opposition player Marco Reus is also out following an ankle injury sustained during Dortmund’s weekend draw with Paderborn.
Matters in the Arsenal camp cannot have been helped by the comments of billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov earlier this week. The Uzbek-born oligarch, who holds over a 30% stake in the club, claimed the club had become restricted by Arsene Wenger’s principles and need to strengthen in “every position” to get back on a par with Europe’s top sides.
Wenger responded that, although Usmanov’s comments did not sit well with the club’s philosophy, “everybody has the right to an opinion.” The Wenger philosophy is set to be tested again tonight.