Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund: Five key battles

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After an abject opening day defeat at the hands of Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium that provoked such shock and vitriolic anger among fans, Arsenal have bounced back in quite breathtaking style both domestically and in the Champions League.

Following a sensational recent run of form that sees them top the Premier League table while traditional rivals Manchester United flounder, the focus returns to European football on Tuesday evening as the Gunners host Bundesliga title hopefuls Borussia Dortmund in a mouth-watering clash in Group F - this year's so-called 'Group of Death'.

Here, GMS looks at five crucial and intriguing individual battles set to take place on the pitch in North London on Tuesday evening that could have a decisive impact upon the final result...

Laurent Koscielny v Robert Lewandowski 

Although Jurgen Klopp's enigmatic outfit have a number of attacking threats who are able to interchange seamlessly thanks to an aesthetically-pleasing brand of football, Lewandowski is unquestionably Dortmund's star turn.

Capable of doing considerable damage both with the ball at his feet or in the air, impressive French defender Koscielny faces a daunting task to keep Polish international Lewandowski quiet for the duration of the evening.

If he can do that successfully, then Arsenal are in with a superb chance of emerging from this tough tie with all three points.

Olivier Giroud v Mats Hummels

It is not only Dortmund who can boast an in-form striker, however. Giroud, who arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier during the summer of 2012, has been formidable of late and has played a pivotal role in Arsene Wenger's side's rise to prominence. 

Despite being routinely criticised during his first season in the Premier League, the Frenchman's recent showings have offered a swift and satisfying riposte to his previously extensive list of doubters.

Whether he can enjoy similar success on Tuesday, though, remains to be seen. He is likely to be shackled by German centre-back Hummels, who has forged a reputation as one of European football's top defenders.

Mesut Ozil v Sven Bender

Although a number of Arsenal players have played key roles during recent weeks, arguably no-one has had more of a positive impact than playmaker Ozil. The former Real Madrid star arrived in North London on the final day of the summer transfer window for a club record fee of £42.5 million.

With his sumptuous skills and breathtaking array of passing, Ozil has provided the catalyst for the club's recent positive exploits. Compatriot Bender faces a tough task in attempting to nullify the threat posed by Ozil.

Even if he does manage to do so, Arsenal are also likely to have Santi Cazorla, rejuvenated Welshman Aaron Ramsey and English hope Jack Wilshere - who scored arguably the goal of the season against Norwich City on Saturday - in the lineup, meaning they surely won't lack attacking prowess from midfield.

Mikel Arteta v Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The loss of influential battler Mathieu Flamini - who suffered a nasty concussion during the emphatic 4-1 win over Chris Hughton's Canaries - is a massive blow to Arsenal's hopes ahead of their Champions League clash.

After returning to the club on a free transfer during the summer, Flamini has quickly become an instrumental figure in Wenger's midfield. Providing perfect protection in front of the back four, the Frenchman's considerable presence allows his more gifted attacking teammates to wreak havoc further up the pitch.

In his absence, Arteta is presumably likely to be called upon to attempt to shackle the threat of Mkhitaryan.

Although he often occupies a slightly deeper role, the Spaniard is not what you might consider a defensive midfielder and as such this is an area that Armenian international Mkhitaryan will surely be eager to exploit.

Kieran Gibbs v Jakub Błaszczykowski

Despite the obvious qualities possessed by Błaszczykowski, Gibbs, however, could attempt to counteract the threat posed by the man affectionally known as 'Kuba'.

As clearly demonstrated by England's entertaining 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley last week that secured Roy Hodgson's men a World Cup berth, the Polish skipper can occasionally be found wanting from a defensive viewpoint.

With the Three Lions having weathered an early storm and an uncertain beginning to the encounter, left-back Leighton Baines became a constant nuisance for the visitors and  Błaszczykowski repeatedly failed to effectively track back.


Do you agree with our selections? Which key battles do you feel will help to decide this particular clash? Please let us know below.

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