Arsenal 1-2 Dormund | A reality check hits our qualification hopes

A lack of free time means I struggle to post consistently these days and my last article was three weeks ago. Funnily enough it was a report of the Napoli game. Some of the optimism I felt back then has been put into perspective by tonight’s defeat, however, which leaves us as outsiders to qualify from a group we were in control of following that exciting victory over the Italians.

Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t play badly and we have certainly improved from this time last year when we were struggling to qualify from a group consisting of Schalke, Montpellier and Olympiacos. But the contrast between tonight and the Napoli game was stark. We looked weary from the off, allowed the Germans to control the first half and never really clicked going forward during the whole match.

The first goal was down to a poor choice from Aaron Ramsey, who was far too confident on the ball and allowed himself to be robbed in a dangerous position. Szczesny’s balance was wrong as he set himself to dive to his right and couldn’t adjust in time as Mkhitaryan’s tame shot slid past his left foot.

Lewandowski celebratesWe responded just before the break when Giroud profited from a mix up between keeper Weidenfeller and Neven Subotic — a just reward for a mounting period of pressure as we sought to get back into the game.

In the second half it looked as though the Germans had settled for a point, yet Arsenal struggled to break them down. Substitute Cazorla had a positive impact, clipping the bar in the nearest we came to getting a second goal. But it was Lewandowski who scored the late winner, volleying home a swift counter attack that saw Arsenal caught short at the back as they pushed too hard for a winner.

There is no disgrace in losing to one of the best teams in Europe, and in fact it might do the fans and the players some good to realise we are not the all-conquering juggernaut some have made us out to be. We’ve profited from a relatively easy start to the season, amassing 19 points from our eight league games, yet in those same eight games last season we actually got 24 points! So it’s pointless placing too much stock in our current position at the top of the league — the real time to judge us will be Christmas (by which time we’ll have played Liverpool, Man Utd, Everton, Man City and Chelsea) and the table will provide a more reliable barometer as to how good we really are.

What worries me the most right now is how tired we are looking already. The injuries and lack of cover up front has meant Wenger couldn’t rotate enough and we are already paying the price. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ozil rested against Crystal Palace on Saturday, and if Bendtner was any good perhaps we could afford to give Giroud a breather too, but that’s unlikely.

So with two tough trips to Dortmund and Naples to be negotiated, qualification looks a tough ask now. Certainly not impossible, but we’re third favourites. Hopefully we will bounce back as well as we did to our last defeat and be professional and ruthless against a poor Palace side on Saturday.

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  1. William

    First it was a reality check. Second if you don’t score but play beautiful soccer you won’t win.
    Tiredness maybe an excuse. With big games coming up,this will be the time to assess accurately the gunners chances.It would appear to me the defence is not good enough.This caught on the counter has been afflicting Arsenal since Ronaldo and the ex Chelsea striker scored goals for fun.
    The gunners intricate passing and desire to thread through a masses defence is well known. BD were able to score the second goal through a quick breakaway with four passes. Arsenal in contrast will string ten passes to unleash a shot let alone score.
    Now you tell me which is the better option.

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  2. Fredirico

    I think the value of Flamini was revealed. Ramsey is not a defensive midfielder whatever Wenger thinks; neither is Wilshire. I noticed in the second half Rosicky moved back and Ramsey came forward and the play improved. I will take a lot of flack for the suggestion but the replacement of Ramsey and Wilshire with Rosicky and Cazorla would give us an attacking “swarm.”

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  3. GMV8

    I don’t think we were quite as bad as everybody makes out, and we should’ve come away with a 2-1 lead. Dortmund got a lucky goal, their only chance in the period totally against the run of play, which they surely wouldn’t have had, had Flamini been present, and they also should’ve had the goalscorer sent off earlier, for the elbow on Kos, which would’ve changed the game.

    Having said that, we gave them far too much respect in the first half, not closing them down and allowing them room, they certainly didn’t return us the favour, and the quality of passing was abysmal, at times I thought Rosicky needed to go to spec-savers, as his long passes were well off target almost every time, it only got better when Santi was introduced. Rambo was very quiet for whatever reason, maybe because he had to play a more defensive role without Flamini, and you could be forgiven for thinking Ozil wasn’t playing at all, I don’t know if it was a German thing going on, but he seemed to put himself where the ball never reached, and was never likely to reach.

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  4. William

    I expect Bd to play defensive and hit the gunners on the break.
    The gunners need to score first. If BD score first it will be very tough indeed.
    To score the opening goal,the gunners need to be wary of the Germans fast breakaway.That was how they scored the winner.
    If Wenger goes kami kaze on the attack without the defence adequatedly covered,he risks going out.

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  5. Shanzu

    BD played their game in the traditional way the away team should play – respected their opponents, held on to the ball, accurate and patient passing and at the same time always on the alert for that breakaway goal and that is simply how they achieved their victory. Although they would also have been happy with a draw! We on the other hand, the home side, were very nervous, we were not sharp enough with our play, gave the ball away too often and very cheaply (hence the two goals), we hardly attacked to put them under pressure, lacked pace on the wings and as a result our immaturity was apparent for all to see. Yes Flamini was greatly missed and Ramsey, as was seen last season, cannot play in that position. We had as usual a lot of meaningless possession that produced only three significant opportunities and we were no threat to the well organised BD defence. Hopefully Walcott and Santi will be available for the return match that will give us the pace and crosses we need on the flanks and Flamini to strengthen the defensive midfield that will release Ramsey/Wiltshire and Ozil to attack their defence. I am confident we can do it in Germany if we go out there with a determined positive attitude and do what they did as the away side!

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