Shinji-mania grips Dortmund ahead of Arsenal clash
15 September 2014, 08:25
Nairobi - Borussia Dortmund are hoping attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who returned after two years at Manchester United, can help lift the German team past Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday despite a growing injury list.
The 2013 Champions League runners-up host Arsenal on Tuesday after the two sides were drawn together in the group stage for the second season in a row.
Kagawa, a crowd favourite who won back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012 before leaving for United, returned this season and scored in his first match back, a 3-1 win over Freiburg on Saturday.
The 80,200 crowd, unfurling Japanese flags and banners, gave the 25-year-old, who failed to hold down a starting spot at United, a standing ovation and hope it will not be the last one.
"Shinji is very good for us, very good indeed," said midfielder Sebastian Kehl. "Especially given the current situation with injuries we are faced with. He still needs a bit more to catch up with us but he'll get there."
Kagawa's return could not have come at a better time with Dortmund missing midfielders Nuri Sahin, Marco Reus, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Ilkay Guendogan along with captain Mats Hummels for the Group D opener.
"We have a team with a lot of depth and with a very high level," said a beaming Kagawa. "When we play well together then we are extremely strong."
Arsenal's own Manchester United signing Danny Welbeck failed to score on his own league debut against Manchester City on Saturday but Arsene Wenger's team still snatched a 2-2 draw ahead of their game at Dortmund.
A late Martin Demichelis header denied Wenger's team what could have been a memorable win.
The French coach, however, has his own injury concerns with Mathieu Debuchy injured on Saturday and doubtful for the game.
"Debuchy has a bad ankle sprain. I don't know how long he will be out for but it doesn't look too good," Wenger said. "People told me they need a bit more time to assess how long he will be out but it's a bad ankle sprain."
On the positive side, Wenger enjoyed watching creative midfielder Jack Wilshere hit top form.
"He's coming back physically to his level where he can be. Unfortunately it takes time to find that fraction of a second where you feel you can make a difference," said the coach.
Also read: Demichelis' header gives City 2-2 draw at Arsenal
"It looks like today was the first time he found it on a consistent level through the 90 minutes."
Turkey's Galatasaray and Belgium's Anderlecht have also been drawn in the group with the top two advancing to the knockout stage.