Are You Ready? Are You Sure? We’re Coming.Preceding the Dortmund home again, a 4-1 victory served as a platform from which our confidence launched into orbit. Or so we would have hoped. A rather unnecessary loss put us on the back foot, however, we ground out a somewhat expected win at Crystal Palace.
Tonight, we are on the back of a Liverpool victory. Not an emphatic scoreline, but a clean-sheet on top of a high class performance really should give the boys the confidence to take their A-game to Westfalenstadion. We were timid in our approach last time, perhaps phased by the innocuous, but daunting opponents. At times, we took the game to them but we just didn’t apply enough pressure.
Tonight, we’ll have to right the wrongs of that encounter. Off the ball, we were often guilty of being out of position, dragged apart by Dortmund players and therefore leaving gaping holes for them to plough through. Bobby Lewandowski’s goal, case in point. Our midfield is usually our strongest point, however, and if we compare our tactics between the Dortmund and Liverpool encounters, you’ll notice that we were far more adventurous and therefore successful with our positive, attacking play. After all, fortune favours the brave.
A key point will be our anchorman, Mikel Arteta. Now, Arteta has been accused this season of being quite poor on and off the ball, however, my take on it is the fact that he merely suffered from not playing games. He was used to playing game in, game out, being switched on every match-day. Then Flamini came in and sidelined him for a period. Now, I am aware that a top class professional footballer should be constantly switched on and ready to answer when his Manager calls on him, however, being out of commission for a while of constant game time is bound to be debilitating to some extent. That’s what it seems is the case with Arteta. He’s come back after a few games back to back and he was absolutely fantastic against Liverpool. Pushing forward with his passes, it made a telling difference between the two games where his passing against Liverpool was forward, daring and incise as ever. Against Dortmund, he often played the ball across the pitch, stagnating our attacking.
The more confident Arteta is on the ball, the more confident our midfield will be and consequently, our free-flowing football will unhindered, positive and dangerous. Of course, this isn’t a one man game. Everyone else will need to be switched on. As Jurgen Klopp pointed out midweek, he prefers a ‘fighting’ style at Borussia Dortmund over the ‘serenity football’ that Arsene has induced in his team. He likes his team to put in the yards, covering more ground than the opponents in any given game. This means making a successful, smooth transition from defence to attack and vice versa. Which means, and we know this from our recent exploits, that if we switch off for a moment, they’ll pounce, they’ll score and we’ll be left scratching our heads. We’re going to be in an environment that will be 99% against us so we’ll have to bring 110% focus to our play and not be phased by the occasion or by the crowd. It really could be a telling moment for our progression…I’d rather avoid needing an away win at Napoli.
One point will do, but of course, a win is always better. A loss will put in jeopardy our chances of qualifying for the Round of 16, a first in 16 odd years. Be ready though Dortmund. You may be the favourites, but we’re gunning for a win. Are you ready? Are you sure? We’re coming.