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.”
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.”