Breaking Down Arsenal's Champions League Opponents
Arsenal did not have to wait long after narrowly qualifying for the Champions League to find out who their opponents in the group stage will be.
For the third time in four years, the Gunners will face Borussia Dortmund, who will by far be their hardest challenge. The group is rounded out by Galatasaray and Anderlecht, who are not pushovers in their own right.
Let's take a look at Group D and analyze each of Arsenal's opponents.
Galatasaray are talented but not very deep.
Though most of their squad is composed of pretty good Turkish talent, they have world-class quality in certain key positions. Fernando Muslera is an experienced Uruguayan international, Felipe Melo and Hamit Altintop have years of experience at elite clubs, and Burak Yilmaz is a very talented striker.
On top of that there's still Wesley Sneijder—the linchpin of their team—to account for. Sneijder can score from long or short range on his own (from a dead or live ball) but is also a fantastic distributor of the ball.
However, Galatasaray's defense is a bit porous, and they do not have very good replacements for their best players. They will be challenging but beatable.
Arsenal will probably need to take six points from their two matches against Anderlecht, and they really should be able to do so.
The Belgian champions have decent talent in various areas of the pitch, but none of their players are good enough for Arsenal to sign them. The only exception might be midfielder Steven Defour, but even so the Gunners have a vastly superior squad.
Anderlecht play an open attacking style, which should suit Arsenal. The Gunners play best when they hit quickly on the counterattack.
Additionally, Americans might want to pay attention to these two games because Sacha Kljestan of U.S. national team fame plays for Anderlecht.
Arsenal cannot (and certainly will not) get complacent simply because Borussia Dortmund lost Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich this summer. Jurgen Klopp is a tactical genius and the Germans are stacked with talent.
They would have a much better chance of winning the title if they were freed of Bayern Munich's exceptional dominance, but they are still contenders.
Dortmund have tremendous quality in every area of the pitch. A back five led by Roman Weidenfeller, Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic supports a speedy and diverse midfield with Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin Grosskreutz and Nuri Sahin.
Arsenal's full-backs will be frightened by the searing pace of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jakub Blaszczykowski and crown jewel Marco Reus.
Dortmund are also exceptionally difficult to beat at home, where some of the most passionate fans on earth create a terrifying atmosphere.
Like last year, the Gunners face a tremendous battle for the coveted top spot.