Although the gunners started sluggishly, after the forced departures of Sven Bender and German wonder-kid Mario Gotze around the 20 minute mark the gunners were able to assert their dominance on the match and came out a different team in the second half. The end score ended up being 2-1 as predicted by us at allArsenal.com, with the special bet also coming through with the gunners drawing at half-time and winning at full-time. It was a shame though yet another defensive lapse at the back allowed Dortmund to spoil Arsenal’s clean sheet in stoppage time. But more importantly for the sixth time this season Arsenal talisman Robin van Persie scored a brace which secured victory for the gunners and also secured top spot in Group F.
While the Dutchman will get much of the glory for his brace, much credit must be given to the players who provided the assists. Alex Song had an exceptional game playing his role of defensive midfielder. In the second half the Cameroon international weaved his way through three Dortmund defenders and put in a pin-point cross for Van Persie to head into the bottom right corner of the net. For the Dutchman’s second, this time Vermaelen did very well to get a flick onto the ball at the near post from a corner allowing Van Persie to smash the ball home inside the six yard box.
I think mention must be made of Walcott, who is starting to put in consistently good performances for the gunners after a great performance against Norwich. The Englishman was the most threatening player for the gunners in the opening half where the gunners looked to be struggling. He seems to be making improvements with the final ball, where he put in a number of dangerous crosses. On the other side of the coin though, it was a mixed bag from Gervinho who definitely did well to get himself into dangerous positions but often lacked the final ball. The prime example of this was when he failed to convert yet another one-on-one chance with the keeper.
Enough of the negative though. The victory means Arsene will be able to rotate the team in the next Champions League tie and rest his star players for the Premier League. Arsenal play hosts to lowly Fulham this weekend who lie 16th on the Premier League table. Hopefully the gunners will be able to continue their current run of five Premier League wins and make it six wins on the trot!
on another Robin van Persie brace…
He is in a period where of course he doesn’t have to look for goals – they just come naturally for him. He is always in the right place at the right moment and he got two goals again tonight from positions that look easy but they are not. He just understands the game so well.
on the match…
Overall it was a good game, Dortmund are a good team. They started stronger than we did but we needed to be patient, intelligent and I think in the second half we increased the tempo of our passing and controlled the game. Slowly you could feel that we could make the difference.
on conceding late…
This time it didn’t make a difference. They scored because we lost our focus and concentration. Overall we controlled it well, our defence played well and they had very few chances. We knew the game was over and just became a bit too easy.
The groups are difficult for the Premier League teams. The level in Germany has gone up a lot. We were in a difficult group and I am very happy and pleased if you see where we came from. We drew Udinese in the qualifier and you could not bet that we could go like we did. Overall I am very happy because we came out from a very difficult period because we were focused, worked hard and were united together.
on being the first English team to qualify…
Manchester United could have qualified last night and of course everybody expected Man City to qualify but we are the first team. It’s difficult at this level against anybody – you never win an easy game in the Champions League. I have played 150 games as a manager in the Champions League and every single game gives you a different problem.
Koscielny Mertesacker Vermaelen Santos
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: Looked confident all night. Although the young Pole didn’t have any significant saves to make, whenever Dortmund looked dangerous he always did well to snuff their chances out.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.0: The Frenchman did his primary job of defending very well and was solid, but often looks uncomfortable and uncertain on attack. But as it his primary job to defend a very good performance.
Thomas Vermaelen | 8.0: As always, the Verminator was sharp and solid today. Also did his bit up front by teeing up Van Persie for his second goal with a superb flick-on at the near post from a corner.
Per Mertesacker | 6.5: It is good to see the tall German bounce back from his horrendous mistake at the weekend with a solid performance. Looked unsure at times but overall a solid performance.
Andre Santos | 6.0: Wasn’t as involved on offence as he usually is and opted to play a more conservative game. Was a good display from the Brazilian without being overly great.
Alex Song | 9.0: The Cameroon midfielder played an excellent match, breaking up the Dortmund attack exceptionally and providing plenty of protection to the back-four. The way he danced by three defenders before setting up Van Persie for his first was pure magic!
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: Although the Spaniard had an average first half, the experienced midfielder improved immensely in the second and showed his array of passing as well as defence producing overall a good performance.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.0: At times the Welshman looked anonymous, although sprung up at times to produce wonderful through balls. Would have been a great performance if he managed to get in the game more one feels.
Theo Walcott | 7.5: It is great to see the Englishman get a bit of consistency from match to match. Was menacing and was Arsenal’s most threatening player in the opening half. Finally looks to have improved his crossing!
Gervinho | 5.5: There was good and bad from the Ivorian who seems to get into dangerous situations and then just undo the good work by failing with his final ball. Will be disappointed with his failed one-on-one and some bad touches throughout the match.
Robin van Persie| 8.0: All that matters is the Dutchman took his chances when he was given them. Got himself into situations where he found himself unmarked for both goals and continues his freakish run of form!
- Notable Substitutions