Having gone from looking good to reach the knock-out stages, we now face a very very tough test – we need to beat both Napoli and Dortmund away from home.
Maybe Marseille will do us a favour along the way and lessen our task ahead. Mind you, we still need to make sure we beat them at The Emirates to stand any kind of chance of progressing in this group.
I thought we were dreadful in the first half. Ball watching, no width, no pace and certainly no movement off the ball to allow simple football and simple passing.
In fact for the first hour, we were losing the ball cheaply, players were being passed like they weren’t even on the pitch and we were second to every ball. We were nothing like the Arsenal we have seen of late and we had no-one bossing or even organising the midfield.
Dortmund were looking good, but we allowed them to look that way, we played right into their hands and we looked like the away team going all out to sneak a draw.
We gifted them a goal when instead of hoofing the ball out of danger, Aaron Ramsey decided to try a bit of trickery and lost the ball, allowing Dortmund to score.
Who was organising, who told him he was in danger, anyone?
Our equaliser was well deserved by Giroud, a big centre-forward who wasn’t about to give up on a Sagna cross which was delivered into a very dangerous area. Subotic hashed at clearing the cross, totally getting in the way of his keeper Weidenfeller and there was the Frenchman to batter the ball home. He’d been one of our better players so far in the match, he was giving up on nothing.
Prior to that, Giroud had been cynically held back by Hummels just outside the area, which earned the Dortmund man a booking and then the big guy sent in a cross which half-cleared and fell nicely for Tomas Rosicky to fire towards goal. I thought it was in as the goalkeeper was beaten easily but in behind him was Hummels to clear the ball off the line.
Jack Wilshere, who’d earlier appeared to land funny, hurting his ankle in the process, finally left the pitch and was replaced by Cazorla.
Play was still very cat and mouse, neither side really looking to win the game, but as we entered the last thirty minutes of the match, we picked up our play slightly.
Cazorla saw a fantastic strike hit the top right-hand side of the woodwork as we were clearly going all out to nick a second and take all three points but the inevitable happened.
Dortmund hit us on the break and hit us hard, our players were caught our far to far up the pitch as their full-back Kevin Grosskreutz broke down the right, leaving Gibbs standing. His cross found Lewandowski in acres of space at the back post and he wasn’t going to miss the chance to secure all three points.
And he didn’t!
That was our first loss since the opening day of the season and it hurt.
Not because we lost but because of how we played.
Arsene Wenger said after the game:
If you look at the number of saves our goalkeeper had to make, we can only look at ourselves. We were not mature enough.
If you cannot win a game then don’t lose it. In the second half we were on top but made it difficult by giving them the second goal.
It all looked messy and very unlike the Arsenal we have got used to watching this season. There were signs of the same against Norwich and unless we came out of the blocks with pace, fury and quick passing against a side as good as Dortmund, then we were always going to be on the back foot and we were for the majority of the game.
In my opinion, we missed having Flamini in the middle as so much was going through our midfield. There was no-one prepared to win that ball, keep that ball and take control. To organise, direct and get a grip of the game. We improved when Rosicky moved more central after Cazorla came on and only then (imho) did Arteta pick his game up. We also missed pace and width, which is no doubt why so many fans cry out for us to sign a winger. Not a right/left sided midfielder, a proper out and out winger with pace.
We tried towards the end but with most of our players pressing so far up the pitch, a side like Dortmund have the quality to hurt us on the break and they did just that.
Jurgen Klopp may have been in the stands, but he got his tactics spot on for last nights match so credit to him but we helped Dortmund by the way we played.
As for Arsene Wenger, from his comments it seems as if he’s not at all happy at the way we gave the points away so cheaply.
All we can hope for from last night is that another lesson has been learned…
There was of course a controversial moment in the match when Lewandowski elbowed Laurent Koscielny in the face. First off I thought a red card had to be shown but after seeing the replay I am far from convinced it was deliberate.
However, from the referee’s point of view, if he saw the incident and showed the player a card which he did, he clearly thought otherwise.
In which case, surely a red one was his only option?
Anyway, Crystal Palace up next, let’s go and make them pay!!