Big night for Arsenal, Reds

Big night for Arsenal, Reds

After enduring their worst start to a Premier League season, Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger will look forward to the sanctuary of the Champions League when Borussia Dortmund visit on Wednesday.

A 2-1 home defeat to an under-strength Manchester United side on Saturday, despite dominating the game, left Arsenal eighth, 15 points adrift of leaders Chelsea after just 12 games.

It was their second straight league defeat and the all-too familiar way that Wenger's side relinquished a commanding position to lose a game has seen increasing pressure mount on the Frenchman and his flaky side.

Yet, with Arsenal needing one point from their two remaining Group D games to qualify for the last 16 for the 15th successive season, Europe's elite club competition will prove a welcome distraction from a beleaguered league campaign -- even if 2013 runners-up Borussia Dortmund represent formidable foes.

"Last season we lost at home and won away (to Dortmund), so we hope this season we can turn it around and get a result against them at home," Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny told the club's website.

"We have confidence for Wednesday's match knowing that we have recently beaten them. If we put in a good performance at home we know we can win."

It has not been all plain sailing for Arsenal in Europe this season and they squandered the chance to secure passage to the knockout stages once already in their last match at home to Anderlecht.

Wenger's side threw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 on that occasion but with seven points from four games they are comfortably-placed in second, five points ahead of Anderlecht and six clear of Galatasaray.

Arsenal will be without midfielder Jack Wilshere, who suffered an ankle injury in the loss to United, and France striker Oliver Giroud, who made a goalscoring return from injury with a stunning strike on Saturday but is not registered in Wenger's squad for the group stages. Dortmund, who have injury problems of their own, will not have forward Marco Reus due to an ankle injury that the German international picked up at the weekend. The German side, who have a 100% record in this edition, have already qualified for the knockout stages.

Test of integrity
Struggling five-time former champions Liverpool face a test of their integrity as they travel to Bulgaria and a crunch Group B clash against a Ludogorets side they only beat in the 93rd minute at home on matchday one thanks to a Steven Gerrard penalty.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is feeling the heat after his expensively-assembled squad slumped to 12th in the Premier League following a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Atletico seek win
Last season's runners-up Atletico Madrid can return to the knock-out phase with victory over Greek champions Olympiakos in the Spanish capital. The Liga champions are coming off a 3-1 victory over Malaga on Saturday and currently lie third in the table, just four points behind leaders Real.

Agencies
Wednesday’s fixtures: Group A: Atletico Madrid vs Olympiakos, Malmo vs Juventus; Group B: Basel vs Real Madrid, Ludogorets vs Liverpool; Group C: Zenit St Petersburg vs Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen vs Monaco; Group D: Arsenal vs Dortmund, Anderlecht vs Galatasaray.

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