Dortmund 0 - 1 Arsenal
After overcoming Liverpool at home, The Gunners faced their second big test of the week in the form of Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal were looking for three points to get their Champions League campaign back on track, but the German giants were not about to role over.[quote_right]”[Arsenal] were struggling to match Dortmund in terms of chance creation and general creativity…”[/quote_right]
The first half was not one to remember for Arsenal.
Possession wise, The Gunners were just about edging it, yet were struggling to match Dortmund in terms of chance creation and general creativity.
Cazorla, Ozil and Giroud were all struggling to get into the game, as the Germans pressed and closed down all over the pitch in their typical fashion.
Dortmund came close via a Subotic header and a Mkhitaryan strike, but on both occasions Arsenal escaped as the ball whizzed past the outside of the post. Although, apart from these two efforts, it has to be said that Arsenal were solid defensively.
The half time whistle soon blew on a tactical first half , where Arenal failed to get even one shot away. On the plus side, the game was still level, and there were forty-five minutes left to play.
Arsenal’s game wasn’t much different in the second half. For the first fifteen minutes, they invited pressure on, and failed to create much in the final third. Dortmund on the other hand, were purring.[quote_left]”The final whistle blew, and Arsenal were once again on top of their Champions League group - and the ‘Group of Death’ at that.”[/quote_left]
Yet, despite Dortmund’s persistence, Arsenal managed to finally create something, against the grain of play. Ozil whipped in a cross to Giroud, who won his header at the far post,dropping to ball into Ramsey’s path in front of goal. Aaron rose to the challenge against Subotic, and got his head to the ball, putting in into the net.
The goal was pretty much undeserved, but The Gunners were loving it. The goal injected some energy into the side, allowing them to steadily mount some more attacks, pushing Dortmund back, albeit only slightly.
For the rest of the game, both teams battled. Dortmund were trying to claw their way back with their constant attacks focused down the wings, whilst Arsenal continued to hold firm at the back, thanks to some stern defending from Mertesacker and Koscielny.
Eventually, the final whistle blew, and Arsenal were once again on top of their Champions League group - and the “Group of Death” at that.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Had to pull of a couple of good saves in the first half to keep Arsenal in the game, and looked dependable throughout.
Bacary battled all game up and down his flank, and did well to keep Reus quiet. Tried his level best to help Arsenal get forward whenever he could.
Mertesacker: [8.5/10] - MOTM
The only “Yellow Wall” I saw tonight was Per Mertesacker. Except he isn’t Yellow. Per won challenge after challenge, header after header and almost managed to score on two different occasions. His passion off the ball was also evident. A fantastic performance from him.
Laurent was equally as good at the back, helping to keep Lewandowski quiet throughout the game. He got in front of his man well, and won plenty of aerial battles in the dying moments.
A solid game from Kieran, although he had to play far more defensively than I’ve ever seen him play before. He kept his side of the pitch tight, and closed down quickly.
Aaron did brilliantly to get his goal. His positioning was good, and the header itself was a brave one. Although, it must be said that, like most of Arsenal’s midfield, he didn’t exactly dominate the game. Still, he’s on fire at the moment, and he popped up with a match winner yet again.
It was difficult to call for Mikel. He got booked early on for a silly foul, and continued to get himself involved in scuffles and dangerous tackles. That should spell a bad performance, yet I think his scrappy, Flamini-esque play tonight was a good thing - in hindsight at least.
Santi couldn’t really get into the game. Dortmund cut him off excellently, and much of the game passed him by. Yet, he looked positive on the ball, and even managed to help out defensively on a few occasions.
A close contender for MOTM for me. Tomas worked tirelessly all game, putting in good tackles and trying to push Arsenal forward, even when under pressure. I loved the way Rosicky took charge tonight. Great to have him fit and healthy.
Mesut was pretty non-existent for the majority of the game. Dortmund, like with Cazorla, did a good job of keeping him quiet. However, he showed good feet, provided the initial cross for Ramsey’s goal, and even made a last-ditch clearance to maintain Arsenal’s lead.
Not Olivier’s best performance. His touch was off at times, and he lacked the killer instinct when presented with a half-chance. And against team like Dortmund, a half chance is all you can hope for. Although, he got a good assist for the goal, so it’s not all bad.
Only got himself fifteen minutes, but helped Arsenal shore up defensively,and even managed to creep forward to help a couple of attacks.
Bendtner, Vermaelen: [N/A]
[title]Smash & Grab[/title]
Let’s face it, for the majority of tonight’s game, Dortmund taught The Gunners a lesson. However, Arsenal managed to teach Dortmund the most important lesson of all, and that’s how to take your chances. Doesn’t sound like Arsenal, does it?
But it was. Arsene’s side travelled to Germany, and carried out a text-book ‘smash & grab’ on a majorly talented side. We showed grit, determination and for once, intelligence at the back.
That’s two wins out of a week filled with three massive games. Liverpool and Dortmund have been dealt with, and if Arsenal can now beat United on the weekend, things really could start looking serious. Here’s hoping.
What do you think of the Dortmund vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!