Arsenal kick of their 2015-16 European campaign with a trip to Dinamo Zagreb. It is a game that the Gunners should win, but with a mouthwatering clash with a struggling Chelsea next weekend, will Arsene Wenger’s side have an eye on the trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime?
Dinamo were beaten 5-1 on aggregate by Arsenal in the 2006/07 third qualifying round, losing 3-0 at home and 2-1 away.
• The Croatian champions have never previously qualified from the group stage in their four previous attempts – 1998/99, 1999/2000, 2011/12 and 2012/13.
• In fact in all ten previous UEFA club competition group stages – six in the UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup – Dinamo have yet to make it through to the next phase.
• They began in 2012/13 with a 2-0 home defeat against FC Porto and continued to lose every game without scoring until matchday six when they drew 1-1 at home to FC Dynamo Kyiv.
• They have scored only four goals in their last 12 UEFA Champions League group fixtures and have not won since matchday three in 1999/2000 – 3-0 at home to SK Sturm Graz – a run of 15 games with only two draws.
• The Zagreb team qualified after a 4-1 home win (6-2 on aggregate) in the play-offs against KF Skënderbeu.
• They were held 1-1 at home by both CS Fola Esch in the second qualifying round (4-1 aggregate) and Molde FK (4-4 aggregate, Dinamo win on away goals) in the third qualifying round.
• Dinamo have lost the last three home games with English visitors, have lost all the last six home and away, and have yet to win against Premier League opponents, drawing twice and losing seven times.
• This is the Gunners’ 18th successive group stage campaign. Last term they reached the round of 16 for the 15th time in a row but again deparated at that stage – as in the previous four campaigns.
• Arsenal began 2014/15 with a 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund, the first time they had lost in 11 matchday one fixtures (winning eight). With wins in their other two group away games, they finished second in Group G with 13 points, the same as Dortmund.
• A 3-1 home defeat by AS Monaco FC put them on the back foot in the round of 16, a 2-0 away victory not enough to keep them in the competition.
• Play-offs included, Arsène Wenger’s side have won seven and lost only two of their last 11 away fixtures in the UEFA Champions League.
• Arsenal also faced HNK Hajduk Split in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup second round, losing 2-1 in Split but winning 1-0 at home.
• Gonçalo Santos is suspended after being sent off in the play-off second leg against Skënderbeu.
• The Croatian champions are 41 matches unbeaten in all competitions since succumbing 1-0 to FC Astra Giurgiu in the UEFA Europa League group stage on 27 November 2014.
• Dinamo have not lost in the league since a 2-1 reverse at NK Istra 1961 on 10 May 2014. Last season they became the first team to go through a Prva Liga campaign unbeaten.
• El Arbi Hilal Soudani has scored six goals in his last five appearances for club and country.
• Soudani is the joint top marksman in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying with four goals after registering twice in the Desert Foxes’ 3-1 victory away to Lesotho on 6 September.
• Marko Pjaca made his competitive debut for Croatia in the 0-0 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw against Azerbaijan.
• Arsenal profited from decisive own goals in both their first two league victories this season – 2-1 at Crystal Palace FC on 16 August and 1-0 away to Newcastle United FC 13 days later.
• The Gunners failed to score in their first two home league fixtures this term but broke their duck in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Stoke City FC.
• Jack Wilshere was ruled out for six to eight weeks after sustaining a hairline fracture to his right ankle in training on 1 August.
• Danny Welbeck, who has not played since 26 April because of a knee injury, had an operation on 3 September and is expected to be sidelined until December.
• Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started England’s 6-0 victory over San Marino on 5 September – a win that confirmed their place at UEFA EURO 2016 – and the 2-0 triumph over Switzerland three days later. Theo Walcott scored twice in the former fixture after coming on midway through the second half.
• Petr Čech featured for the Czech Republic as they qualified for next summer’s finals by defeating Latvia 2-1 in Riga on 6 September.
• Alexis Sánchez started every game of Chile’s triumphant Copa América campaign on home soil in June and July, scoring once.