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Arsene Wenger bullish as Arsenal aim for massive win at Borussia Dortmund

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When Arsenal travel to the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday to square off against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stages, they’ll do so with one thing on their mind: attack.

Following their 2-1 loss at home to Dortmund in the last round of UCL play, Wenger spoke out about his sides “naivety” as they pushed for the winner when drawing 1-1.

Robert Lewandowski then bagged a late winner for BVB to stun the Emirates crowd who’d seen the Premier League leaders dominate their German opponents for most of the game. But that late lapse won’t deter Wenger’s men going for broke at the intimidating home of last years Champions League runners up.

Far from it.

After all the Gunners did beat reigning UCL champs Bayern Munich 2-0 away from home last year, but weren’t quite able to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit in the knockout stages. Arsenal’s French manager believes his side can fed off that performance against Bayern to try and take down Borussia on Wednesday.

“We took belief from the 2-0 win at Bayern,” said Wenger. “We play everywhere to win, and that will not change of course. We will have a positive attitude in our approach to this game. Maybe we had not the same belief at home sometimes because we failed in a few big games. There was a bit more skepticism, less belief. Hopefully that is behind us now with the Liverpool game.”

(MORE: UEFA Champions League Preview – Arsenal seek to recover points at Borussia Dortmund; politics in focus at Milan)

A lack of belief around Arsenal’s credentials to seriously challenge for the PL and UCL titles will only strengthen if they get beaten by BVB but when looking back to their first group F meeting, you have to say that the Gunners were incredibly unlucky.

Before Lewandowski’s late winner, Arsenal were pouring forward and battering Borussia with wave after wave of intricately fabricated attacks. Santi Cazorla smashed a wonderful curling effort off the bar, as the English side stamped their authority on the game but failed to get the killer blow.

Dortmund’s late sucker-punch was disheartening but with group F incredibly tight, as the Gunners, Dortmund and Napoli are all locked on six points from four games, it will go down to the last game.

Hopefully Arsenal will learn their lesson from the first game vs. BVB, as Wenger admitted his side will set themselves up to control the tempo and manner of the game. He also believes his side learned a valuable lesson in that loss, something that should hold them in good stead for Wednesday’s monster clash.

“I believe we lost the first game because we wanted to absolutely to win at any cost and we exposed ourselves,” said Wenger. “Neither of the keepers had a save to make. It was a midfield battle but, in the end, we got caught on a counter-attack because we were all up front and did not cover ourselves. We were not happy with a draw. But I feel that result will strengthen the resolve of my team to come out and show a different level.”

WATCH: Walcott compares Wenger speech to Pacino

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What if Tony D’Amato of American football was Antoine Dumond of the world’s game?

Theo Walcott says Arsene Wenger inspired him to make that comparison after a recent pregame speech, a fiery number that convinced the Arsenal attacker how badly his manager wanted to win the Premier League.

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Speaking to Arsenal TV for a series of questions on former and current teammates — and Wenger — Walcott shared a pretty funny tidbit:

“The manager did a speech the other day. I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good.”

“It genuinely reminded me of the film ‘Any Given Sunday’. I actually said that to him, and I was little bit embarrassed.’ You remind me of that film, that speech,’ I didn’t know if he had seen the film.

“Just showing the passion and how hard, and how long it’s been as well. He really wants it, like all of his players.”

Here’s the thing, though: Walcott doesn’t give us the answer as to whether Wenger has seen “Any Given Sunday”. And how about you, Theo, do you see yourself in Willie Beamon or Cap Rooney?

CAS rejects Serbia’s challenge to Kosovo joining UEFA

Supporters of Kosovo's national soccer team raise Kosovo flag during their international friendly soccer match at Adem Jashari Stadium in Mitrovica, Kosovo on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Kosovo host Turkey for their second friendly match of the country's national football team. Turkey won the match 6-1. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Serbian soccer federation’s appeal against Kosovo joining UEFA has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that Kosovo met the standard of UEFA entry rules because it is “recognized by the majority of the United Nations member states as an `independent state.”‘

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Serbia argued that Kosovo, which joined European soccer’s governing body last May despite not being a U.N. member, should be blocked.

CAS decided that because “there is no formal recognition of countries by the U.N.,” then acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood by most countries was valid for the soccer application.

European soccer federations voted 28-24 in favor of Kosovo’s entry to UEFA after Serbia led opposition to its former province.

Serbia and its allies, including Russia, have not recognized Kosovo since the Balkan republic declared independence in 2008.

UEFA’s decision led to Kosovo joining FIFA one week later, and being fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Still, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in neutral Poland in October, because its government also does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”