Arsenal v Dortmund
UEFA Champions League
Kick off: October 22, 2013 7:45 PM BST
A win at the Emirates tonight would have seen us on nine points, and probably safely through the group stages, a draw would have kept us in control of the group but still with a lot to do, a loss would have once again blown the group wide open.
I had a feeling there was going to be a few tired legs and minds on the pitch after a vital international break for many, and an energetic performance against Norwich. And it certainly seemed this was the case as we started slowly and sloppily, being penned in by Dortmund and unable to get a grip on the game.
I thought Ramsey had seemed a little jaded and tired for a good portion of the Norwich game before he came to life, and it was even more evident tonight. His passing was sloppy and he was dispossessed several times, the most notable of these when he foolishly attempted to dribble his way out of danger at the edge of our box. He lost the ball, and Lewandowski fed in Mkhitaryan, who drove it past Szczesny to leave us chasing the game. He was certainly not the only player who wasn’t up to scratch, but it was perhaps more noticeable given his recent excellent form.
Dortmund were all over us, and it seemed like they had far more than eleven men on the pitch. But despite some excellent pressing from the Germans, we were slowly growing into the game. Giroud was playing superbly, despite the lack of service from the majority of his team mates, really using his strength to great effect. He used this strength to break down the right flank and bear down on the German goal, Hummels cynically fouled the Frenchman on the edge of the box however, and the resulting free kick was headed over by Koscielny.
Wilshere seemed to pick up a nasty ankle injury midway through the first half, but he carried on despite looking in huge amounts of pain, and his performance actually improved throughout the rest of the game. More good work from Giroud resulted in the ball dropping for Rosicky unmarked on the edge of he box, who smashed it goalwards, only to be cleared off the line Hummels, very unlucky.
Giroud’s effort and determination finally paid off just before half time, when a dangerous looking cross from Sagna was fumbled by Weidenfeller and the French striker pounced to draw Arsenal level. He really deserved his goal, and it really seemed to push us on, it was almost a shame our momentum was broken up by half time.
The second half we were almost exclusively in control, Dortmund seemed to have tired slightly and weren’t able to keep up their pressing game, but they were defending resolutely and trying to hit us on the counter. We looked far more able to break them down when Cazorla came on, the Spaniards impact was instant, linking up superbly with his team mates and showing great skill and vision. He saw a couple of shots blocked, and rattled the cross bar after an Özil cut back, but couldn’t come up with the goal that would put us in front.
Ramsey appeared to provide that goal, after blasting the ball into the back of the net, off of a corner and a Mertesacker knock down. The whistle had already blown for a Koscielny foul however, it remained 1-1.
We seemed to be really pressing for the winning goal, with Sagna and Gibbs often caught way up the pitch, and very little cover in defence. I felt this was slightly foolish given the counter attacking prowess of Dortmund, and we were punished for it when we lost the ball at the edge of their box and the Germans countered with lightning speed. Mertesacker was dragged away from the far post, leaving Lewandowski open to put a long cross past Szczesny in the last ten minutes, giving us a mountain to climb.
Many felt the Polish striker was lucky to be on the pitch, after receiving a yellow card earlier in the game for elbowing Laurent Koscielny in the face. The issue being not so much that it was a clear red card, but more that the ref had given him a yellow, showing that he acknowledged the offence, and according to the rules, an offence of that nature is a straight red. It was the kind of incident that if your player sees red for it, you feel hard done by, but if the opposition get away with it, you also feel a little unlucky.
The German side then cleverly (but frustratingly) wasted time until the final whistle. Keeping it in the corner, playing for throw ins and corners, and drawing the foul wherever possible. The game finished 2-1, leaving the group now wide open. Elsewhere Napoli also beat Marseille, meaning Arsenal, Napoli and Dortmund are now all on 6 points, with Arsenal still needing to travel to both clubs. I’m still confident that we will progress, but this now gives us a lot more to do. It definitely seemed there were some tired legs out there tonight, and I think we really need a few of our injured players back to give players like Ramsey a rest. Not the best result by a long way, but also not the end of the world, plenty of football to be played.
For those that are following us, or are being followed, let’s take a look at some of the best Tweets from today’s match.
“Giroud is having a great game especially considering he was running late and had to leave a haircut half way through.”
“Turns out Santi’s really good at football. Who knew?”
@BD (In response to Arsene arguing with the linesman.)
“Arsene: “Don’t you know it’s my birthday?”
“Nicklas Bendtner and a Samurai. Close enough. pic.twitter.com/J7ynYVY8Qu“
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on the match…
It was a game of high intensity but very few chances. Dortmund were well organised to stop us from playing, and I must says as well that we were not as good as we can be offensively. Some of our players were not as fresh as they were recently. But we put ourselves on the back foot with the first goal and naive for the second goal. If you look at the number of saves our keeper had to make tonight and you concede two goals, you can say that we can only look at ourselves for not being mature enough in situations like that. If you cannot win the game, you don’t lose it. Especially in the second half when we were on top, we made things difficult for ourselves by giving them the second goal.
on Lewandowski’s booking…
It looked like [it could have been a red card] but I haven’t seen it well, but the referee was in a much better position than I was and didm;t decide to do it. I will have to look at it again, I don’t know.
You could see that he was not completely himself and that is why i decided to take him off. At the moment it is his desire to play that gets him through the game. it looks like he was handicapped after the first tackle he got. he looked like he landed awkwardly. he looked to me that he limped a little bit. We will see how he responds in the next two or three days, we haves to wait for the medical assessment.
on not reaching their best form…
I felt we started a bit hesitantly and what we did not do against Napoli. We have them confidence. Overall I believe that our fluent football going forward was not quick enough and that is basically what happens sometimes because we play many games.
on the state of Group F…
It is tight and difficult for us, but possible. You have three teams with six points, and we have played twice at home and once away, so that means we need a result away from home – but we can do that.
on Dortmund’s intensity…
Physically, yes [they were a step up on anyone Arsenal have played this season]. Technically we have met some good team, but physically they were stronger than many other teams that we have met.
on picking the players up…
A disappointment like that is part of what makes a team grow. I feel that some players, physically, are a bit jaded at the moment and it is a bit down recovering physically.
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs
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