Borussia Dortmund 1 Arsenal 1: They deserved it
The Westfalen Stadion was a ground that conceded a meager and miserly eight goals in the Bundesliga last season. Arsenal visited their ‘toughest opponents’ with the aim of getting a stronghold of the group.
Wenger was spotted on the stands but he selected a lineup that he felt was good enough to get a result in Germany.
Unlike my perfect exact match against Swansea, the lineup I predicted for the game against Dortmund had a few hitches. Gibbs was selected above Andre Santos and Benayoun got the nod above Frimpong.
Arteta’s last Champions League game took place eight years ago when he wore the Blue of Scottish giants Rangers.
Dortmund won the German Bundesliga with the present crop of players but a large chunk of the squad were inexperienced in Europe’s elite competition.
Arsenal tried a training-like move from the kickoff but it came to no avail. Van Persie and Benayoun kicked off the ball and van Persie made a surge forward before teeing Walcott on the right but the winger lacked ideas with the ball.
Arsenal almost got off to a flyer when Gervinho was one on one with Roman Weidenfeller after a good pass from van Persie but Dortmund hit Arsenal on the counter with the ball going over.
Van Persie tried to create another chance for Gervinho but the pace of the ball was too much for the Ivorian. Dortmund replied back through Shinji Kagawa but he blasted his chance over.
Kagawa was very instrumental for Dortmund last season but his form waned after his foot break late last year. However, Dortmund’s man-machine Mario Gotze was in good form against Arsenal and this was evidenced by his defense-splitting passes that cut Arsenal’s back line like a hot knife through butter.
Gotze sent a delightful through ball to Robert Lewandowski and the striker did well to go round his compatriot Wojciech Szczesny with an empty goal gaping wide at him. His shot was quite weak so Bacary Sagna was on hand to clear the ball off the line.
Arsenal had a corner kick and the danger was easily averted by Dortmund’s defense. In the buildup to the counter, Gotze made mince meat of Gervinho before spreading play to Großkreutz but the bloke killed a bird in the sky.
Sven Bender lost the ball in midfield so Gervinho did well to send a ball to Theo Walcott but the ball was won back by Hummels. Hummels left his defensive duties to get himself involved in the next noteworthy highlight, smashing Koscielny’s head to bits with a headbutt WWE’s Umaga would have been proud of.
Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta did well to create a chance for van Persie but his shot was rather panicky. It seemed like a goal kick to me but the officials had other plans. The resulting corner was defended well by the home side.
With halftime looming around the corner, the deadlock was broken after Bender lost the ball in midfield to van Persie. The ball got to Walcott then he sent a sumptuous through ball to van Persie. Arsenal’s captain picked his spot and finished aplomb.
That was his 15th goal in 16 away games dating back from last season. If that’s not amazing, then I don’t know what that word means.
At the sound of the ref’s whistle, Wenger was seen leaving his spot at the stands to go to the dressing room to talk to his gallant boys.
Arsenal was expected not to rest on the comfort of the slender 1-0 lead but Walcott’s attempt of a shot was really poor.
Gotze was challenged by Sagna but he used his quick footwork to confuse the full back before sending a through ball to Marcel Schmelzer. The full back’s shot went over the bar.
The German side dominated possession but Arsenal had another good spell that saw them pass the ball for a while. Van Persie applied the finishing touches but Walcott’s final shot was atrocious.
Dortmund had a corner kick swung in from the right hand side with the end product defended by Arsenal. When the ball came back to Arsenal’s danger area, Arteta and some bloke on a yellow jersey challenged for the ball with Arteta receiving a nasty blow to his ear.
Gervinho had a chance to increase Arsenal’s lead but he was off balance so he couldn’t hit the ball well. From then henceforth, it became a one way traffic with Dortmund bombarding the Arsenal area with waves and waves of attack.
Van Persie won a free kick in the edge of Dortmund’s area. Walcott smashed it against the wall but it rolled to Arteta who connected well with Sagna. The full back’s cross caused a corner but Weidenfeller made a save from van Persie’s in-swinger.
Rice took off Walcott and brought on Frimpong to add some steel to the midfield so Benayoun was redeployed to the left wing while Gervinho went to the right.
Subotic moved freely into Arsenal’s half so he had the time to send a lovely through ball to Lewandowski. Szczesny made himself big to block his countryman’s effort.
Van Persie was replaced by Chamakh while Andre Santos came in for Gervinho to make his Arsenal debut with just five minutes to go.
With just five minutes to spare, Dortmund got what they truly deserved for their amazing and resolute attacking play, an equalizer of the highest quality.
A long ball was swung into Arsenal’s 18-yard box and it was headed away from danger. With so many bodies in the box, a bloke called Perisic hit it all to do with his proposed volley with a dipping shot being the only option.
I’ve seen some great goals in my lifetime but his goal has to go into my archives because it was a goal made in dreams. There was nothing Szczesny could do about it and he did what every plausible goalie would have done; take out a digital camera and watch it go in while you snap. 🙂
The climax of the game was a scary affair for the Gunners because most people felt that they’ll crack again but they held the fort to end up with a 1-1 victory in Dortmund.
For the records, this was the 8th time an English term had visited the 1997 Champions League winners ground and only one English team has ever managed to beat them, a 1968 Manchester United side that had the likes of Dennis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best.
Szczesny (7.5) had a good game and showed why he deserves to be Arsenal’s No. 1. There was no chance in Hell for him to stop that ball from entering.
Sagna (6.5) did okay and assisted the attack from the right.
Gibbs (6.5) was exposed on the left hand side but showed quick recovery.
Koscielny (8.5) put up one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt. His interceptions were vital and his anticipation skills were top notch.
Mertesacker (7.0) had a solid Champions League debut for Arsenal.
Song (7.0) was combative as ever in the midfield.
Arteta (8.0) took ‘one for the team’ when defending and his overall play was sublime.
Benayoun (6.5) didn’t really offer any threat attack-wise but he made some good tackles to help his defense.
Walcott (7.0) supplied an inch-perfect assist.
Gervinho (7.0) was very unlucky not to score.
Van Persie (8.0) put up a true captain’s performance. Scored a goal in one end and defended better than Squillaci and Silvestre put together at Arsenal’s end with vital headers.
Frimpong (6.5) did okay to steady the ship.
Chamakh, Andre Santos (N/A).
Arsenal was just five minutes away from recording a famous victory in Germany but a draw can also be considered as a good result because Arsenal stands a chance of topping their group with victories over the Olymp-sides.
All focus will be turned to Saturday’s lunch kickoff against Blackburn as Arsenal bids to move up the table.
The quote of the day goes to @FaithinWenger,
@FaithInWenger: A point gained is better than two lost.
If you’re an Arsenal fan and you don’t agree with his assessment, you must be playing too much video games.
Arsenal started its Champions League campaign with a draw in the Westfalen Stadion.
Arsenal showed amazing defensive awareness while Dortmund showed good attacking flair.
At the end of it all.
They deserved it.
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