Positives Taken From Arsenal’s Loss Against Dortmund
When the Gunners lost their opening Premier League fixture to Aston Villa, all Hell broke loose as several factions of fans voiced their frustrations but the team responded magnificently with 10 consecutive victories as well as the acquisitions of Emiliano Viviano, Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Ozil.
The draw against West Brom took away the team’s air of invincibility but the way they decimated Norwich afterwards gave the optimists a chance to believe that last season’s Champions League finalists, Borussia Dortmund, would be next in line for another Napoli-esque performance at the Emirates. On the night, it was the exact opposite as the Gunners looked flat, shot themselves in the foot for Dortmund’s first goal, had a stroke of luck for their equalizer and some schoolboy defending allowed Robert Lewandowski to score the match winner for the visitors.
As you would expect from any defeat, fans, journos and bloggers alike have shared their opinions and fingers have been pointed at some specific players in the roles they played in the defeat. Some say Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilhere and Aaron Ramsey were piss-poor, Dortmund’s fullbacks were afforded too much space, Arsenal gave the visitors too much respect and the whole nine yards.
In the wake of Arsenal worst result since the defeat against Aston Villa in August, I want to share my thoughts on the positives I took from the game, rather than the negatives everyone are probably dwelling on at the moment.
The Collective Performances of Giroud, Arteta and Koscielny Were Impressive
I have no arguments with the notion that the likes of Ozil, Wilshere and Ramsey may have under-performed but I can’t take anything from the collective performances of Olivier Giroud, Mikel Arteta and Laurent Koscielny.
In defense, Koscielny worked in tandem with Per Mertesacker suppressing waves of Dortmund attacks and he made his trademark interceptions as the game progressed. Speaking of interceptions, Arteta was on fire as he broke up play on several occasions as well as dictating the tempo of the game but the pressing game of Dortmund made the Spaniard alert over the course of the game.
Olivier Giroud was offered little or no service as the game progressed but there were moments were he had to work hard for the ball and he brought his teammates into the play with several lay ups as well as providing a focal point in attack. Following a good Bacary Sagna cross (after a plethora of erratic crosses), Giroud showed his predatory instincts to capitalize on a defensive gaffe between Neven Subotic and Roman Weidenfeller to blast in a free clear-cut chance at goal that leveled the contest before halftime.
All three players have been outstanding this season and only build on their collective performances.
Tomas Rosicky’s Pressing Further Up the Pitch
Tomas Rosicky joined the Gunners from Dortmund as far back as 2006, but this was the first time he played his former team were he endeared himself to the hearts of the fans at the Signal Iduna Stadion. Rosicky also blasted a left-footed effort that was cleared off the line by Matts Hummels after beating Roman Weidenfeller hands down.
However, I must commend Rosicky for his determination in his attempts to win the ball further up the pitch and he even got a booking for troubles. Dortmund excelled above Arsenal on the night for several reasons and one of them was their aggressive pressing off the ball. Rosicky was equally aggressive but it was disheartening to see how tepid some of his teammates were.
Ramsey Will Learn from his Mistake
Aaron Ramsey is a player that is very high on confidence following his amazing goalscoring haul but over-confidence has a bad side and it was exposed as he was robbed off the ball at the edge of Arsenal’s area when he tried to dribble his way out of the area instead of clearing the ball out to safety. Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted no time in adding salt to Arsenal’s wounds with the game’s opener.
Ramsey has acknowledged his error and he has vowed to improve. Like Ramsey, many players within the team would learn from his mistake and as the saying goes, “Learn from other’s mistakes, because you can’t live long enough to make them up on your own”.
The Group is there for the Taking
Following Arsenal’s loss to Dortmund and SSC Napoli’s win against Olymique Marseille, the group has been thrown open with three teams locked at six points each while Marseille carries the burdens of the group with no points.
Even though the Gunners face two daunting trips to Germany and Italy, the quality in the team will see them through to the next round. Everyone might have written off Marseille following their poor performances thus far but with three Matchdays to go, I expect them to spring a surprise or two.
Funnily enough, Arsenal, Marseille and Dortmund were in the same Champions League group a couple of seasons ago but the Gunners topped the group while Marseille finished as runners up. Olympiakos took the Europa League slot while Dortmund finished in the bottom of the group.
I don’t expect any deja vu this time though.
There’s no point dwelling on this defeat but we can look at the positives and fix our focus on continuing our good league form with a game against a Crystal Palace side without a manager as Ian Holloway has stepped down after just eight games in charge.
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