Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Arsenal suffer first loss in group against Dortmund

Arsenal's lengthy unbeaten run has finally come to an end. Borussia Dortmund, last years beaten finalists proved to be too much for an inform Gunners side as they lost 2-1. Although not really playing badly, the game looked to be heading for a draw despite Arsenal dominating in the second half. However Lewandowski popped up with a heart breaking winner with eight minutes remaining. Giroud was the Arsenal scorer as he equalised just before the break when Mkhitaryan had opened the scoring for the German side. It was a bad way to lose the game when we'd played so well for long periods of the game. Arsenal made two changes from the side that thumped Norwich at the weekend. Ramsey started this time in place of Flamini who wasn't involved at all through injury whilst Rosicky started against his former club in place of Cazorla.
Olivier Giroud got himself on the score sheet but it wasn't enough as Arsenal lost
The last time these two sides met the score line was a reverse result as Arsenal ran out victors. Both sides had very different lineups that day almost 2 years ago. Both now have better sides but there was no repeat of last time out as the German side ran out victors. The result left 3 sides, Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli all on 6 points in the 'Group of Death'.

There were still positives to find from the game despite the defeat. Mikel Arteta played his best game in an Arsenal shirt this season making 11 successful tackles in a man of the match display from the skipper. Compared to recent weeks when he'd been paired with Flamini in the middle it was a much more reassuring performance as he was next to Ramsey. However that somewhat limited Ramsey's performance a bit. Against weaker opposition on Saturday it worked perfectly fine but this time against a much stronger side it didn't quite have the same effect. Ramsey, despite all the plaudits he has rightly received so far this season was at fault for the first goal. Perhaps suffering from over confidence he tried to dribble the ball out of defence instead of finding Szczesny or just kicking the ball forward. He lost possession which gave Mkhitaryan the chance to bury a shot from the edge of the area. The Welshman looked very tired and it will be no surprise if he is rested against Palace.

Although Flamini was missed the main players that were missed in this game and have been in recent weeks are the wide players. Having Walcott, Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain all out injured has caused problems when we've needed width. It's been fine in the league where we've scored some excellent goals by playing a narrower game. However against a stronger side in Dortmund we lacked a real outlet who would get running at the defence and stretch them. Someone like Walcott would've been an ideal player in this fixture. Santi Cazorla was brilliant when he came on out wide. The Spaniard changed the pace of the game and hit the bar with a curling effort from the edge of the box. The fact we didn't have an out an out wide player lead to us conceding what ended up as the winner. Dortmund caught us out on the break and with Sagna effectively playing as a right wing back he was left stranded in attack as Grosskreutz crossed for Lewandowski at the back post to slide home. Had Sagna been further back then the goal could've been easily prevented.You could argue that Lewandowski was lucky to even be on the pitch. The pole could've easily been sent off for elbowing Koscielny in the face.

Saying that, when Sagna did get a chance to go forward he did well. He supplied the cross for Giroud's goal. The Frenchman wanted it a little more than the Dortmund keeper and he nipped in to then smash the ball home from close range. It was a game of ifs and maybes; Rosicky had a chance cleared off the line in the first half whilst as I said Cazorla struck the bar. On another night Lewandowski may well have seen red too. Enough of the excuses though, Arsenal lacked a little bit of maturity and errors caused us to in turn lose the game when they could easily have got something from the game.

It was a tough result to take but it's only our 2nd loss in 25 matches. There's still plenty to be positive about, we're still top of the Premier League and you can back Arsenal to bounce back against Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime. Hopefully the players won't dwell on this performance and will take on board the mistakes they made and look to cut them out. Tougher tests potentially lie ahead in the next few weeks. We play Chelsea in the League Cup in a weeks time whilst Liverpool, Manchester United and Dortmund away are up and coming.

The teams lineups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey(87), Arteta, Wilshere(59), Ozil, Rosicky(90), Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Monreal, Cazorla(59), Gnabry(90), Bendtner(87). 

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer, Bender, Sahin, Blaszczykowski(68), Mkhitaryan(68), Reus(87), Lewandowski. 
Subs: Langerak, Kirch, Papastathopoulos(87), Durm, Hofmann(68), Aubameyang(68), Schieber. 

My man of the match: Mikel Arteta

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
Attendance: 60,011

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