Borussia Dortmund 1 - 1 Arsenal: Resolute Arsenal defence only beaten by wonder strike

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Post by Jay29 Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:44 am

Champions League football is back and, personally, I'm loving it. There's nothing quite hearing that music play and playing very good teams in intimidating arenas. Dortmund and Signal Iduna Park both certainly fall into those categories; the stadium boisterous with 50,000 fans donned in yellow and black. This is where you want to be, not some backwater stadium in the middle of Eastern Europe on a Thursday night.

First Half
Arsenal started the game shakily. It was evident from the beginning how Dortmund were going to play: high pressure, get the ball forward quickly and play through Mario Götze and Shinji Kagawa. Arsenal had to counter this by keeping the ball and using the pacey outlets that were Gervinho and Theo Walcott, but unfortunately we failed to do the former and frequently put ourselves under pressure.

Dortmund's best chances came through long balls over the top that exploited the still-developing partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Often enough, there was too big a gap between both centre backs and only a poor finsih from Kagawa and a last-ditch off-the-line clearance by Bacary Sagna kept the score at 0-0.

This is set the pattern for the rest of the half. Arsenal's midfield were frequently rushed and hurried by the industrious duo of Sven Bender and Sebastien Kehl, which put Arsenal under pressure and isolated the front three. Dortmund attacked in numbers and looked threatening; the link-up play between Kagawa and Götze in particular causing Arsenal problems.

The best Arsenal had to offer offensively in this half came mainly from Gervinho's dribbling, but he was rendered ineffective by two to three players marking him all the time. Van Perise was by and large not in the game, likewise Walcott while Benayoun and Arteta were forced into chasing the ball in midfield.

But it's a sign of a good side when they can pull something out of their arses, and that's where our goal came from. Van Persie challenged their centre back and won the ball. Walcott picked it up and threaded a beautiful pass through to van Persie, who lashed it home with his right foot. It was excellent play from both van Perise and Walcott.

It'd be fair to say that Arsenal rode their luck this half. The second half would be much better.

Second Half
The objective from this point was simple: protect the lead. To do so was going to be a mighty task, given the way Dortmund were playing.

But it seemed like the whole Arsenal team grew a pair during half-time, because they were very determined and resolute in their defending. Granted, it wasn't a classic defensive play but by Arsenal's own standards it was excellent.

What really helped us was our deeper defensive line. At the expense of not being able to build any sort of attack, Arsenal's defence looked more solid playing deeper and with Alex Song protecting them. There was less space for Kagawa and Götze to work with, and Robert Lewondowski was effectively marked out the game, meaning that Dortmund lacked a goal threat. They would have to either play through us and walk the ball in, or score a wonder goal to beat us. I'll get to this later.

Another contributing factor to our improved display was better retention of the ball. Yossi Benayoun dropped deeper into midfield, as did Mikel Arteta and kept the ball better. Walcott and Gervinho helped carry the team up the pitch. Perhaps the only disappointing thing was how van Persie just floated about in the Dortmund half and did little to help the team defensively, though I do understand the need to have an attacking pivot for counters.

For pretty much the entirety of the second half, Arsenal defended while Dortmund attacked. Up until the 87th minute, it looked like Arsenal were going to see the game out and claim an excellent win. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Ivan Perisic volleyed home a wonder-strike. That's the sort of goal he'll never score again and completely unsaveable. It was gutting but there's just nothing you can do about it.

The Bigger Picture
Arsenal probably could have played better on the night, but then a point is hardly a bad result. This was the hardest game in the group. We aren't in great form. Even in good form getting a good result here was always going to be difficult.

So getting a point is a good start to the group, with easier games to come. The nature of Dortmund's goal will leave us feeling a little disappointed, but thinking long term, this is a good result that we can't really complain about.

On top of that, it will boost the teams confidence ahead of the league games to come.

Arsenal are playing within new boundries
We all have to accept now that the days of stylish, free-flowing passing football are over now that Fabregas is gone. He was the one that made that style of play possible and we seldom produced anything of the same quality without him.

We also have to accept that this current squad simply isn't as good as previous sqauds. It's a different squad now, with six or seven new players that offer something different than what we're used to.

This is what I mean by new boundries. This team isn't going to pass teams off the pitch and score from beautifully constructed moves. It's going to hurt teams on the counter. Even against sides we should beat by three or four goals, we're not going to play them off the pitch.

New players need time to gell. Every player needs time to adapt to a new era after the loss of several players. To expect otherwise is being unreasonable. It's going to take a lot longer than two games for this new sqaud to truly click together.

At this point, it's one step at a time. We got our first win and followed that up with a gritty, well-deserved draw in a tough environment. We just need to keep on building. Things will get better.

If nothing else, we've still got Vermaelen and Wilshere to to add to our side.

Player Ratings
Wojciech Szczesny - 7. In a game like this, Szczesny is the keeper I'd want. Always confident and assured. Couldn't do anything about Perisic's strike, however.

Laurent Koscielny - 8.
Always excels in European games. Put in an excellent all-round display and capped it all off with a very good block in the second half.

Per Mertesacker - 6. Fared much better in the second half when we played deeper.

Kieran Gibbs - 7. Had a solid game. Interesting to see if he'll stay in the side when Santos is fully fit.

Bacary Sagna - 7. Likewise, was quite solid.

Alex Song - 9. Was exceptional in the second half. Any time he's actually playing as a proper defensive midfielder, he does well. Won so many challenges and made a lot of blocks. One of the main reasons behind our better defensive display in the second half.

Mikel Arteta - 6. Struggled with the ball but was disciplined without it. His experience was very useful tongiht, as he tracked runs and did the dirty work when required to. 86% pass completion, which was the highest in the side.

Yossi Benayoun - 6. Also struggled, but his versitillity proved a useful asset as he played in all three attacking midfield positions. Worked hard, too. Probably not the most ideal of games to make your first start in.

Gervinho - 6. Was marked by three or four players every time he got the ball, but I do think he could kept things simpler instead of trying to run his markers all the time. Should have scored at least once, too.

Theo Walcott - 6. Didn't do a lot in the game but still produced a super pass to set-up van Persie. If Götze had made that pass, there'd be fan-jizz everywhere. Crude analogy, but you get my point.

Robin van Persie - 6.
Similar to Walcott, in that he wasn't involved a lot in the game but still produced a goal. Continues his amazing record of goals in away games.

-----------------------------------------------

Andre Santos - N/A. Had little time to make an impact.

Emmanuel Frimpong - 6.
Made some good tackles and tried to drive the team forward.

Marouane Chamakh - N/A.
Again, not much time to do something significant, especially when he was alone in the Dortmund half.


Last edited by GoonerJay29 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:57 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by RealGunner Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:44 am

cant be more proud of the boys. Defended like mofos lol


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Post by Iceman Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:49 am

Can we PLEASE switch tactics? It's SO DAMN OBVIOUS that we need to become a counter-attacking team. We would have won this match had we just decided to skip the whole rely-on-midfield-to-create. Midfield wasn't creating anything.
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Post by REWB Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:50 am

great defensive performance in the second half though.
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Post by Twoism Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:51 am

Yeah i'm quite proud with the result, for a second there i thought i was watching graham's arsenal. Let just say the fans better get used to it, this is gonna be how we play against big teams from now on. Chesny, Kozz, Song and Mert are beasts.
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Post by urbaNRoots Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:54 am

That was our toughest game in group stages, a point is not bad.
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Post by Amar Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:54 am

Iceman wrote:Can we PLEASE switch tactics? It's SO DAMN OBVIOUS that we need to become a counter-attacking team. We would have won this match had we just decided to skip the whole rely-on-midfield-to-create. Midfield wasn't creating anything.

I'm totally with you.

Now that we've actually got a stable defence, the defensive personnel in the middle (Song, Frimpong, Coquelin), and the quick pace of Walcott and Gervinho, we've got all the ingredients to succeed in a counter attacking style.

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Post by Wilson37 Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:57 am

In simple words.. Not impressive..
Happy that we managed to get away winning a point..
Our usual heroes Song, van Persie and Sagna again played well.. Sczeny again had a nice game.. Koscielny was excellent today.. He took so much effort playing with a lazy Metskr.. Walcot as usual mixed with some good moments and some poor.. Gibbs again poor..
Not at all impressed by our new faces...
Gervinho and Mertskr always sleepy and plays with no energy.. Needs to drive some passion into their games.. Artheta could nowhere be seen today.. Benayoun was good.. Atleast he covered the area and looked better than others..
We gave away the ball easily.. And were lucky to get a draw when the game was dominated by the home team..
Man of the match for me Koscielny...


Last edited by Wilson37 on Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Sri Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:57 am

Iceman wrote:Can we PLEASE switch tactics? It's SO DAMN OBVIOUS that we need to become a counter-attacking team. We would have won this match had we just decided to skip the whole rely-on-midfield-to-create. Midfield wasn't creating anything.

It was painfully obvious from our transfers that we are looking to use that.. But we need to switch to a 4-4-2 for that to be effective, don't you think? I feel more comfortable with a 442 and counters than with our current built-for-BarcaDNA-boy formation. :/

I still feel all this would change [for the better] after we get our missing players back and they start working as a team..

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Post by Sri Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:04 am

Wilson37 wrote:In simple words.. Not impressive..
Happy that we managed to get away winning a point..
Our usual heroes Song, van Persie and Sagna again played well.. Sczeny again had a nice game.. Koscielny was excellent today.. He took so much effort playing with a lazy Metskr.. Walcot as usual mixed with some good moments and some poor.. Gibbs again poor..
Not at all impressed by our new faces...
Gervinho and Mertskr always sleepy and plays with no energy.. Needs to drive some passion into their games.. Artheta could nowhere be seen today.. Benayoun was good.. Atleast he covered the area and looked better than others..
We gave away the all easily.. And were lucky to get a draw when the game was dominated am the home team..
Man of the match for me Koscielny...

I wonder if I was watching the same game tbh.. Don't agree with most of what you are saying there mate.. It wasn't that bad! Apart from the fact that we were struggling to create chances, we played pretty well for an away game with AW in the stands.. And lets not forget, it was an impeccable peach of a volley that we gave away..

I think Mertesacker had a good game too.. Not prolific, but Per isn't about amazing tackles or great interceptions.. He is about a no non-sense straightforward defending with good organisation of the people around him.. he did that well enough for me..

And Gerv had a decent game too.. Apart from the fact that he got crowded by 3-4 BVB players on 5 or 6 occasions.. And that he missed two relatively simple chances..

And midfield needs to get better, agreed. But we started with YB and Arteta in mid with Song. I wonder how many practice session, leave alone games, that these 3 have had together!!

Take it easy guys, we aren't as hopeless as Sky thinks we are!

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Post by AnJl Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:11 am

Wilson37 wrote:In simple words.. Not impressive..
Happy that we managed to get away winning a point..
Our usual heroes Song, van Persie and Sagna again played well.. Sczeny again had a nice game.. Koscielny was excellent today.. He took so much effort playing with a lazy Metskr.. Walcot as usual mixed with some good moments and some poor.. Gibbs again poor..
Not at all impressed by our new faces...
Gervinho and Mertskr always sleepy and plays with no energy.. Needs to drive some passion into their games.. Artheta could nowhere be seen today.. Benayoun was good.. Atleast he covered the area and looked better than others..
We gave away the ball easily.. And were lucky to get a draw when the game was dominated by the home team..
Man of the match for me Koscielny...

Mer was never eve going to be your full on agressive defender. Never have, never will.He sits back and anticipates and keeps his hold in the center so we arent overly exposed.
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Post by Wilson37 Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:17 am

about Metskr.. I have seen him only for two matches and i am saying my views from this.. I dont think it was because of him that our defence looked good today.. It was Kos who was running and diving all over to make the saves... I felt Met was too slow and his clearances were weak.. He couldnt dominate short young players of home team.. And on the air too he was average.. He moves slow and does not cover much area...
And have read that he has only 1 yellow card in around 90 appearances.. Thats great discipline.. But is that necessary for a Premier League cb..? I feel needs to be more energetic.. Hope he gets settled with the tempo of the game...
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Post by Emaharg Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:23 am

This is easily our toughest match in our group and to get a point, shows how much our defence has improved. I still think when we play counter attacking Walcott should be playing through the middle with RVP playing in behind him.
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Post by urbaNRoots Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:24 am

What's wrong with you guys? Our defence tonight was top-notch, we just need midfield-attack chemistry and Wilshere, who can spread the ball in counter-attacks.
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Post by Sushi Master Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:32 am

The midfield will only get better with time. I think we're already making that choice. You can even see it in Wenger's tactics. Since when does he take out a winger to put in a DM? Bad luck in the end, but we could have won the game. Still a great result in an extremely hard to play in stadium and against a tough team.

What I'm loving is the work everyone is doing. I dunno, but I saw Arteta run his ass off and even tackle when he had to. Don't know if it's seeing Fabregas on the sidelines so long or him being a bitch, but I don't remember him doing that.
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Post by Emaharg Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:37 am

Sushi Master wrote:The midfield will only get better with time. I think we're already making that choice. You can even see it in Wenger's tactics. Since when does he take out a winger to put in a DM? Bad luck in the end, but we could have won the game. Still a great result in an extremely hard to play in stadium and against a tough team.

What I'm loving is the work everyone is doing. I dunno, but I saw Arteta run his ass off and even tackle when he had to. Don't know if it's seeing Fabregas on the sidelines so long or him being a bitch, but I don't remember him doing that.

I definitely love how when we have a lead Wenger brings on another DM for the last 10-15 minutes, this is what we have needed for the last three years to close our matches. Think about all the matches we have lost in the end where Wenger didn't bring on another DM the first one that comes to mind is that 3-2 loss to Wigan 2 seasons ago.
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Post by julias Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:39 am

great performance and great result and at a hugely difficult ground against a great team,

very proud of their mature performance
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Post by djoe26 Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:49 am

This game was not bad at all. We did manage to get 1 point and that for me is a positive thing. Dont forget that our squad has got many new faces and it will take some time to settle in. Also Wenger was at stands and we missed players Wilshere, Ramsey and Verminator. Wilshere to me has become a key player to arsenal now.

Our defense was very solid and very impressive. Best display i've seen for a long time now. Sagna like always was great specially in 2nd half. Per did well but his speed is going to be his problem. Kos was outstanding today. He was abit shaky in first half but did great in 2nd half. Gibbs was good and as always made some good attacking moves. He had Gotze on his side for most of the time but he managed to do well.

Our midfield did okay today. There was no creativity but they did great when it came to defending. I was impressed with Yossis performance as he tracked back and did good defensively. Song was our best midfielder today. Arteta was kinda shaky and nervous but it was his first champions league game so that could be the reason he was so nervous.

Walcott and Gervinho played okay today. They both were good at some times but lost the ball very cheaply. RVP as always was great, his ball control, his passing and his finishing was just great. I hope he can stay fit for the rest of the season.

Man of the match for me is between Kos and Szczseny.
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Post by Jay29 Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:58 am

Updated the first post. It's a real big one tonight.

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Post by lenear1030 Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:58 am

Song Motm. He's been balling this season. I think its the mohawk.... Rvp even gave him the armband.



passing was horrible though. it wasnt necesarily a chemistry issue because we do lack it, but the passes some of our players made were just awful because there was a lack of awareness. they HAVE to know where the defenders are.


i'll cut our defenders (cb's) some slack too because they had to defend wayyyyyyyyyyyy too much. 2nd half dortmund played in our half the entire time.

i'll take the draw away though.


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Post by SamuelJayC Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:02 am

A good result when you consider we had no manager on the bench, no Vermaelen, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey or Diaby in the squad too, plus we never used Arshavin. Our squad is stronger than a lot of people think.

Benayoun making his first start, Santos his first appearance, Arteta his first CL group game in years, overall it was a good point.

We need to make sure we win the 3 home games, this should be enough for qualification, though I'm confident we will get some points from olympiacos and marseille away.

My ratings:

Szczesny 7
Sagna 7
Mertesacker 7
Koscielny 7.5
Gibbs 7
Song 7.5
Arteta 6.5
Walcott 6
Benayoun 6
Gervinho 6
Van Persie 7.5
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Post by dmize Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:30 am

If I could have signed up for a draw before the game started, I would have. With that said we had this game won, so it still hurts.
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Post by Raptorgunner Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:04 pm

I think we played well, no GK would have stop that, I am glad we didn't lose, we played a good team, but in the second half we should have attacked them more, I dont know why we started to defend and kept giving the ball away, we made them look like Barcelona.

I thought Walcott and Gervinho were really poor, I cant really blame Gervinho much cus its his first game back and we was surrounded every time he got the ball, Song was really boss today, he won almost every thing he went after.

I hope in January we can sigin Hazard, perfect player for this team.
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Post by Wilson37 Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:48 pm

a change in tactics as we went into defend a one goal lead..? No doubt we are defensively better this season.. But can we do this all the time.. Perhaps we could have scored the second and go for it.. This is the problem when we defend one goal leads.. I am not impressed.. because we never looked scoring the second or attempted to create any chances.. i am used to seeing us creating chances in bundles and scoring atleast 2 to 3.. This season we hardly create 3 to 4 chances and lucky to nick one in.. Those days may never come back.. May be we have to get used to seeing more of this...
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Post by BeautifulGame Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:35 pm

I think Dortmund would have taken the draw too particularly after their result in the weekend ( lost to Hertha at home ).Arsenal too would be happy with a point considering this is their hardest fixture of group stage.So in that sense probably a fair result both teams would be happy with.

But in first half passing from both Arsenal and Borussa were imo.They misplaced more passes than successful ones.

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