Borussia Dortmund vs. Arsenal
Tuesday September 16 2014 | 2:45pm Eastern, 11:45am Pacific, 7:45pm London
Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
TV: Fox Sports 1
Form: ARS DDWDD | BVB WWLWW
Arsenal will be in a very familiar place tomorrow -- the Champions League group stage, for the seventeenth year in a row, and Dortmund, where we've had to play in three of the past four years. Borussia Dortmund have been steadily moving up through the hierarchy of the group draw pots as they've found success in Europe, but still they haven't made the Big Kids' Table in pot 1 -- so here we find ourselves once again, in Germany's loudest and yellowest stadium.
And yet it's a different matchup than it was even last year. BVB manager Jurgen Klopp said today that Arsenal are a totally different team from last year, and the same could be said of his own squad. Robert Lewandowski is gone, and Shinji Kagawa is back. Marco Reus and new signing Ciro Immobile are injured and unavailable, as is Mats Hummels. Ilkay Gundogan is finally in training again, but isn't close to being ready for tomorrow's game. As you can see, Arsenal isn't the only team in the world with a few injury problems.
Of course, I mean "a few" in the ironic sense, because goodness do we have some issues. Mathieu Debuchy will miss out on this game, and all the others until (possibly) Christmas. Nacho Monreal didn't train today nor has he traveled to Germany; he has a back issue that Arsene Wenger says should only keep him out until the weekend, but honestly at this point who knows whether that's accurate. Calum Chambers suddenly is a 50/50 chance to be available, with tonsillitis. Yeah, I know. Yaya Sanogo also has a hamstring injury, so he's at home watching Thierry Henry videos on YouTube. Other than that, though, not too much to complain about!
The crisis at fullback (stop me if you've heard that one before) begs the question: who's playing tomorrow? Since he was on the bench this past weekend and assuming there haven't been any stiff breezes in his immediate vicinity since then, Kieran Gibbs should be available to start. On the right side things are a little more dicey. Mathieu Flamini has played as a fullback before, and with Mikel Arteta returning to fitness he ought not to be starting in midfield anyway, so he could deputize if Chambers' tonsils are too inflamed for him to play.
My preferred strategy, though, is the debut of #HéctorFC. Héctor Bellerín, Right Back Of The Future, is in Germany with the team, and it's time for him to shine. If Reus were healthy I'd be concerned about throwing a young kid into the fray, but Dortmund's social media strategos predicts Kevin Großkreutz will start in his place and whatever, have you seen Bellerín's hair? We need this.
Let's get a point or three, shall we?