Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Arsenal Lucky To Lose By Only Two Goals in Dortmund

Arsenal went to Borussia Dortmund last night for their first game in the group stages of this season's Champions League. It's been a happy hunting ground for them in recent seasons with a win there last season and a draw two seasons before that. Anything other than a defeat would have been a good result in what was surely going to be the toughest game in the group for them.

Arsene Wenger made three changes from the team which drew 2-2 at home to City on Saturday with Mikel Arteta, Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin all coming into the team. Arteta was a straight replacement for Mathieu Flamini in the defensive role in midfield while Gibbs came in at left back for the injured Nacho Monreal. With Mathieu Debuchy out for an extended period his obvious replacement at right back was Calum Chambers, but a bout of tonsillitis kept him out of the starting team and handed a first team debut to Bellerin. 

If you check the stats on the official Arsenal site Bellerin is not a first team squad member and is no more than a promising 19 year old player. For the lack of defensive squad depth to be shown up already so early in the season is a scary thought, but it was something which almost every Arsenal fan could have seen coming. The defenders which the squad needed were not brought in during the transfer window and the team is now paying the price. 

To be honest though it probably wouldn't have made any difference as a defence is only as good as the cover in front of it and there was precious little help offered to the back four by the rest of the team. It seems every single fan wanted the boss to sign a defensive/holding midfielder during the window, but again nothing happened and the team is suffering as a result.

I'm not going to over analyse every moment of the game, but Dortmund dominated from start to finish and were unlucky to only win by two goals. They had more than enough chances to add more goals to their tally while Arsenal very rarely threatened at the other end. When Arsenal did make chances they all fell to Danny Welbeck and he was unable to put them away. He could do with a goal to get his Arsenal career up and running and hopefully that goal will come very soon.

Dortmund pushed forward from the start and their players closed the Arsenal players down all over the pitch. Arsenal were unable to cope with the pressure they were put under and were constantly caught in possession or passed to the opposition. They somehow rode their luck in the first half and looked to have made it to the break scoreless until Dortmund struck on the stroke of half time.

The team needed to be reorganised and sent out with a new message in the second half, but we were treated to more of the same. It took Dortmund only three minutes to add to their tally in the second half and the game was as good as over as a contest. Arsenal still continued to play in the same way as if there was some belief that their style of play would win through in the end.

On the hour mark the boss made a couple of changes and the players to be withdrawn were Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla coming on. I thought Chamberlain did quite well in comparison to the rest of the team and tried enough in that last half hour to deserve a start against Villa on Saturday. Cazorla on the other hand was invisible and it was almost impossible to tell he was out there.

Jack Wilshere was the only other midfielder to come out of the game with any credit, but even he was guilty of overplaying the ball and was caught in possession far too often. Both Ozil and Ramsey were far from their best yet again and they need to find some form very quickly for the sake of the team. If Arsenal are going to compete this season they need those two players to have far more influence when they play.

Despite the players playing so poorly a lot of the blame has to go to the tactics used on the night. Dortmund came out and played like they always play at home, but Arsenal didn't seem to have any solution to the problems posed to them. It's hard to come up with excuses for the tactics and they will only add more fuel to the fire of the "Wenger out" brigade. 

There are still five games left in the group for Arsenal and qualification is well within their grasp. The draw between Galatasary and Anderlecht last night was a good result for us and Arsenal need to win at home to Galatasary in their next game before the back to back games against Anderlecht. It's not going to be easy to win the group now, but a place in the last 16 has to be the first priority.

The most worrying aspect for me was the game was so much like the heavy defeats Arsenal suffered against Liverpool, Chelsea and City last season in the league. Arsenal got it all wrong in those games and last night's performance leaves me thinking they are going to suffer a similar fate a few times this season. How do you explain the complete ineptitude of the team four or five times in a season and the inability to learn anything from it. 

It's a worrying time to be an Arsenal fan and the season has started far too slowly for my liking. The team have only won two of their seven competitive games and have only scored eight goals in those games while conceding the same amount of goals. They need to find some form and very quickly too or their chances in the league will be gone before they ever even existed. 

Before last night there was a feeling among some fans that at least the team had not lost a game. That unbeaten record is gone now and the team face a tough trip to Villa on Saturday knowing a win is a must. They cannot afford to draw yet again, but this Villa team have found some ressielence and have only conceded one goal in their four league games so far. 

Things have to improve and they have to improve straight away. It's up to the manager to pick a team and the tactics which will get the team back on course and it's up to the players to give their all for the cause. Let's hope last night was the bad result they needed to spur them on to do their best and give their all from here on in.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.



  1. "It seems every single fan wanted the boss to sign a defensive/holding midfielder during the window." Not even close to being true. I wanted one, but most Gooners (at least, most of those who spoke up on the Internet) demanded "a world-class striker." Which is ridiculous, because that would require spending 50 million on ONE player. If you're going to spend that much on one player, he'd better be 1970 Pele, 1974 Cruyff, 1966 Eusebio, somebody like that. Ronaldo wasn't worth 50 million -- and neither is the other Ronaldo. I don't care what people actually spend on players, they all get too much spent on them.

    1. There were calls for a striker, a DM and more defensive cover with the arrivals of Sanchez and Welbeck going some way towards answering the call up front. Nothing happened with a DM though and the lack of cover at the back is a joke.