London - Borussia Dortmund will face another stiff test of their recently-reacquired credentials as one of Europe's top teams when they run out against Arsenal FC at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening (kick-off 20:45 CET).

It is the first of the sides' back-to-back meetings in UEFA Champions League Group F and lending the occasion an added twist of spice, should it be needed, is the fact that the hosts have three current Germany internationals in their ranks in Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and recent arrival from Real Madrid Mesut Özil.

We'll meet again...


Podolski is sidelined for this one with a hamstring injury but central defender Mertesacker and playmaker Özil are good to go for the Gunners against opponents the pair know well from their time together at Werder Bremen. Since Mertesacker swapped the Weserstadion for north London in the summer of 2011, however, Dortmund have continued to develop in leaps and bounds, and nowhere more so than on the European stage.

Indeed, within weeks of making the switch to the Premier League, the imposing 6'4 stopper found himself back at the Signal Iduna Park facing Jürgen Klopp's freshly-minted Bundesliga champions in Europe's elite club competition. Arsenal departed with a point and won the return 2-1 to safely negotiate the group stage. Dortmund crashed out of the tournament in anticlimactic fashion but proved to be quick Champions League learners, as they demonstrated to memorable effect last season, reaching the final.

Arsenal with 100 per cent record


"I think we're all looking forward to another couple of good contests," Mertesacker told bundesliga.com in an exclusive interview ahead of the first meeting between the ostensible group favourites. "We've both started into the season well and the games against Dortmund are going to be defining ones for us." On the evidence of early form, there is little to separate the protagonists: Arsenal remain top of the Premier League after dispatching Norwich City 4-1 at home on Saturday, while Dortmund's workmanlike victory over Hannover 96 leaves them still just a point shy of FC Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga standings.

In Group F, however, BVB stumbled at the first away to SSC Napoli, before recovering well on home turf against Olympique Marseille. The Gunners for their part followed up on a 2-1 win in the south of France with a 2-0 home success against the Serie A representatives. All of which points to a couple of almighty tussles in prospect in north London and, two weeks later, to the backdrop of the famous Yellow Wall, in Dortmund.

Great expectations of Özil


On home turf, Mertesacker says his side will be aiming for "the same kind of dominating performance we've been putting in all season." The 94-time Germany international puts Arsenal's promising start down to a newfound consistency, thanks in no small part to the fact that "we kept the squad together this year". More than that, they added to it, not least in the shape of his one-time Bremen cohort Özil: "He's progressing well at the moment and I think he'll show that more and more over the season. We can expect a lot more from him." Bang on cue, the gifted Gelsenkirchen-born midfielder chipped in with two goals and another commanding all-round performance in the weekend win against Norwich.

Mertesacker, whose own national team status is back on the ascendant of late, is quietly confident the same can be said of Arsenal as a whole after an extended fallow period, certainly in terms of picking up any major silverware. Victory over last season's beaten Champions League finalists this week would be another significant step in the right direction. So any chance of a prediction from the long-time Bundesliga stalwart? "We haven't been talking or joking around about who's got the better chance. I think there's a mutual respect there, and that's the most important thing."

Check out Özil's five best strikes in the German top flight, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: