PREVIEW - Soccer: Euphoric Arsenal wary of Dortmund reality check
LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal are turning the toughest looking Champions League group into a walk in the park so far and they would take a huge stride towards their customary place in the last 16 with victory over Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
A dazzling 4-1 victory over Norwich City at the weekend, in which Mesut Ozil scored twice, kept Arsenal on top of the Premier League and had fans and commentators alike drooling over the quality of their display.
Early days it may be, but with 10 wins and two draws from their last 12 matches in all competitions, including Champions League triumphs over Marseille and Napoli in Group F, there is talk of something special brewing in north London.
Recent seasons have seen mediocre starts for Arsenal but this time, after an opening day defeat, they have raced out of the blocks with the signing of Ozil seemingly the catalyst for some breathtaking performances.
With record signing Ozil fitting into the Arsenal midfield like a silk glove, Aaron Ramsey unable to stop scoring, Jack Wilshere at his best and Santi Cazorla back from injury, manager Arsene Wenger has the look of the cat that got all the cream.
Last season's runners-up Dortmund pose a considerable threat to the feeling of euphoria sweeping the Emirates stadium but victory would be a huge psychological boost, according to Mikel Arteta, another of Arsenal's midfield gems.
"We have two very difficult games coming up against Dortmund," Arteta told Arsenal's website (www.arsenal.com).
"After that, we will know exactly where we are in the group. They are a very good side and they are doing well in their own league. Winning the first two games makes a difference and now we have a massive game at home.
"If we win that one we are almost there. I think this is going to be a crucial one."
Despite reaching the last 16 for a 13th successive time last season, Arsenal paid the penalty for finishing behind Schalke in their group, getting drawn against eventual champions Bayern Munich in the first knockout round.
Schalke and Bayern both won at the Emirates stadium last season and Dortmund, who are tucked in behind Bayern in second spot in the Bundesliga after a 1-0 win against Hanover, will be confident of following their lead.
Juergen Klopp's side suffered an opening day defeat in the Champions League against Napoli when Klopp was sent to the stands after a furious outburst at an official.
Klopp, who will serve the second game of his two-match touchline ban on Tuesday, is highly regarded across the continent and his two Bundesliga titles and a run to the Champions League final attracted plenty of interest from Premier League clubs, according to the 46-year-old.
However, he says he has unfinished business in Dortmund.
"There were some England clubs that called and wanted to speak with me," he was quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror newspaper. "But there was no reason to talk.
"In life you have to be at the right place at the right moment. I am in Dortmund with all I have. Definitely for the next couple of years."
Midfielder Marco Reus and defender Marcel Schmelzer both returned to action against Hanover after injuries - a boost for Klopp whose side have three points from their opening two games in Group F after a win against Marseille.
"With a view to Tuesday, the Hanover win was a game that pushed us forward," Klopp told reporters.
"Especially for those players who had only trained twice before Hanover. So we will be a further step forward when we face Arsenal."
Dortmund will be without long-term injured Lukasz Pszczek, captain Sebastian Kehl and playmaker Ilkay Guendogan. (Editing by Alison Wildey)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
Trending On Reuters
Australia captain Michael Clarke will return to club cricket this weekend as he continues his bid to prove his fitness for the upcoming World Cup, Cricket Australia said. Full Article
Islamic State's Egypt wing claims attacks that killed 27 - official Twitter. Full Article
Three U.S. contractors killed in "insider attack" in Afghan capital. Full Article