Dortmund 2 Arsenal 0: Bad Result, Worse Performance
Dortmund 2 (Immobile 45′, Aubameyang 48′) – Arsenal 0
Signal Iduna Park (Champions League)
The Gunners donned their new cup kits for the first time in a ground they had gotten some good results in the past. As recently as last season, all it took was an Aaron Ramsey header to settle the contest between both sides. As expected, Dortmund pressured the Gunners early on and almost had the lead when Henrikh Mkhitaryan dribbled Mikel Arteta in the box but took a dive, much to the disgust of the referee that brandished him a yellow card. The pressure continued as Ciro Immobile had a shot that was blocked by Laurent Koscielny.
Dortmund had a corner that put Arsenal’s zonal marking to the test but Sokratis Papastathopoulos was free in the box. However, his poor shot went wide off the mark. Arsenal managed to instigate an attack but Alexis Sanchez was offside. Despite hearing the ref’s whistle, Alexis still put the ball in the net and thoughts of Robin van Persie’s red card against FC Barcelona in 2011 came to my memory. Kevin Grosskreutz skipped past Hector Bellerin with ease before drilling a cross that was fired in first time by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but Szczesny was on hand to make a superb save.
Dortmund continued to ask questions of Arsenal’s defense with another drilled effort that almost made Koscielny to suffer the ignominy of an own goal but Szczesny blocked the ball to Mkhitaryan’s path that launched his shot into orbit. Arsenal made a rare foray forward when Kieran Gibbs took on all comers before dinking a cross that Danny Welbeck couldn’t connect well with. On the other end of the pitch, Mkhitaryan fired another shot wide and Aubameyang stung Szczesny’s palms with a shot that was parried to the side netting.
Arsenal soaked a lot of pressure and in an instance Ramsey created a great chance for Welbeck but the forward fired his shot wide off the mark. In a game where the chances for Arsenal were few and far between, these were the kind of balls you’d expect your striker to bury. Shame.
With Welbeck failing to take the initiative, Immobile singlehandedly took on the entire defense and side-footed a shot that beat Szczesny in his far post to put the home side one up.
It was a very disappointing first half for the Gunners and one must have hoped that the players would be fired up for the second half but it was the exact opposite as the players switched off in typical fashion to allow Aubameyang skip past Szczesny before firing the ball to an unguarded net. Dortmund weren’t resting on their comfortable lead and they sought to inflict more damage on Arsenal as Immobile latched onto Mkhitaryan’s pass to fire a shot that was saved by Szczesny.
Sanchez teed up a chance for Welbeck that was blocked by the Dortmund rearguard. The home side launched a counter attack that tore the Arsenal defense to shreds but Aubameyang’s surface to goal missile slammed the cross bar before going over the bar. Wenger decided to remove the ineffectual Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey for Santi Cazorla and the Ox. Arsenal’s misery was almost compounded when Szczesny almost gifted Aubameyang the ball on a platter but the ball went out for a goal kick.
Things almost went from bad to worse when Arteta lost the ball in midfield but Mkhitaryan certainly didn’t come to the pitch with his shooting boots as he blasted a shot over when he had two players free on his far side. Wenger put Arteta out of his misery by bringing on Lukas Podolski in his stead. Jack Wilshere attempted one of his trademark lung-bursting runs but he was robbed off the ball. Mkhitaryan grabbed the loose ball and closed in on goal but the Ox showed good awareness to deflect the ball to a corner.
Arsenal would have scored what would have proved to be a consolation when Wilshere dinked a lovely ball for Podolski but his poor control as well as pressure from Roman Weidenfeller saw the ball go out for a goal kick, much to Podolski’s frustrations.
At the end, it was a very disappointing start to Arsenal’s Champions League campaign as they lost for the first time in Match Day 1 since the 3-0 reverse scoreline to Internazionale in 2003. I wonder how they’d pick themselves from this mess.
We would find out on Saturday.
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