Arsenal Fight For A Point In Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund 1 – 1 Arsenal

0 – 1 van Persie (42)
1 – 1 Perisic (88)

Arsenal’s Champions League campaign was denied the perfect start with a late equaliser in the Ruhr Valley. It was a bits and pieces performance by the visitors; bits of it were outstanding whilst occasionally they went to pieces, particularly early on as they took time to settle. It was entirely in keeping with the way that the season has gone so far.

The sign of a good side is the ability to grind out results from performances when you are under par. This Arsenal XI is still missing key players and is learning together, understandings and partnerships being built. It showed early on with the defence breached on several occasions in the opening twenty minutes.

Whereas Mertesacker and Koscielny improved as the night wore on, Gibbs is still awkward in his defensive duties, like a number of his colleagues further up the pitch surrendering possession too cheaply. With Andre Santos presumably returning to something close to match fitness, Gibbs will need to perform consistently well otherwise his starting place is under question, if it is not already.

Bacary Sagna though has vast experience in the Champions League for Arsenal, and along with Szczesny, was consistently outstanding throughout the evening. When the young Pole was beaten, Dortmund found Sagna in their way as Gotze found early on with the French defender clearing off the line. It was the third or fourth chance that the hosts spurned in the opening quarter of the match, profligacy that would cost them dear.

There was little wonder that Arsenal tried to sign Gotze during the last transfer window, such is the Dortmund playing style he would have slotted into the Arsenal midfield almost seamlessly. Watching the Germans must be like seeing Arsenal in full flow in seasons past, such was their comfort and ease with moving the ball around. They had done their homework and Arsenal’s defensive line was highlighted as a weakness, time and again the ball over the top exposed the back four.

Crucially they pressed collectively to win the ball back. Arsenal cannot do this at the moment for whatever reason, be it organisational, personnel or commitment problems. If they are to ram home their technical advantage over teams, they need to put this into their tactical plan. With a high defensive line, this is the element that is missing from them controlling matches.

For their deficiencies, Arsenal’s back four make up with tenacity of tackle and covering play. There was substance to their covering work, tenacity in defending the lead established with the first half nearly over. The equaliser, or the timing of it, was a blow. Was it cruel? No, Dortmund deserved something from the match and ultimately it came, although as Andre Santos said afterwards, Perisic will not hit the ball as sweetly again.

There had been warnings with Szczesny is great form. The young Pole made it abundantly clear that he owned the night beforehand, proving that his confidence has not been shattered by the eight goals conceded at Old Trafford. Had that been as a result of his poor performance, I doubt he would be so bullish. Thankfully, he remains belligerent when faced with determined opponents. Last night he proved once more that his potential is being realised as games pass.

For all of their pressure, Dortmund fell to a classic sucker punch. Earlier Benayoun had given Robin van Persie an opening, the Dutchman’s shot turned away. Ten minutes later, van Persie picked up the ball following sloppy defensive play, combined with Walcott and buried his chance. At this level, a forward might get one or two chances in a match; the Arsenal captain has the form and confidence to take at least one of them.

It was one of the few things that Theo Walcott got right last night. His form is wavering at the moment and he badly needs a run of good games to bring back self-belief. Like Gervinho, too often he was forced into dead ends or hustled out of possession by packs of Dortmund hunters. Like a rabbit in the headlights, the ball was surrendered with no fight.

Retention of the ball in these matches is crucial; it blocks momentum from the home side and gives time for a defence under pressure, to regroup. Arsenal will recover that skill when confidence returns. Last night ought to bring some of that back; the point was well-earned, endeavour and luck combining to bring a favourable outcome.

In the second half, Arsenal held their own. They ceded the ball quickly but for all of the Dortmund possession, few clear openings were created. A lot of the credit for that goes to Song and Koscielny. The midfielder held his position more in defending the lead, more discipline in his defensive duties. The timing of his tackles was excellent, particularly for someone who intercepts the ball so readily.

The performances of the new players, Mertesacker aside, were subdued, not in an overpowered way but more understated. Arteta had to be to a certain extent with hard work required in support of Song and providing a defensive barrier. Benayoun flitted in and out of the game, needing to get more involved.

Is 4-3-3 the correct formation for these away games? Wenger stubbornly refuses to change tactics to suit the opposition but when visiting the German champions, perhaps a more defensively minded midfield might be a better choice.

It was a brave choice to go with an adventurous line-up. In hindsight, the result backs up the choice, the performance, well that is debatable. However, at the moment it is results that count more with the poor sequence of results still not entirely behind the squad. This win will help.

And more importantly, the point at the toughest opponent in the group is more than welcome. ‘til Tomorrow.

Posted on September 14, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 187 Comments.

  1. I see from club website that 1% voted for Theo as MOTM.
    Great to know gooners still have a sense of humour.

  2. Very happy with the point, although obviously it hurt to concede the equaliser so late after a performance where grit and effort helped to compensate for a lack of cohesion and some lax possession.

    Gibbs seems to be really struggling to me. He didn’t offer much coming forward, gave the ball away in dangerous positions and had poor positional sense. He will improve, but needs to do so quickly.

    Thought Song was magnificent, particularly in the second half. Always where he needed to be, no silly tackles. More of the same, please. My man of the match.

  3. I thought Song was immense last night. Watched the game on TV3 (Irish TV), couldn’t listen to Merse no harm to him. Keown was the anchor on TV3. His views excellent, harsh and fair, Arsenal DNA present there no doubt!

  4. Good balanced review, Yogi.
    We clearly watched the same match 🙂

  5. Song for all his heroics was the one that gave away a silly free kick that led to the goal. something he’s done on more than one occasion. he needs to thought how to control an attacker and simply move them away from goal instead of lunging in all the time, that said he did have a good game.

  6. Song is a monster!!!nothing goes past him!!!

  7. Anyone who is unhappy with that performance should compare it to our last away game in the Campions League. THAT was awful. Last night we showed guts, effort and loads of commitment and even if not everyone had a good game we got 100% out of most. That’s something that has cheered me up at least. Well happy with the point.

  8. I was much more critical last night than I am this morning, having now trawled through last night’s comments. I agree this team will need time to gell and we as fans need to be patient and give them that time – another week maybe? Benagoun in particular needs to settle down and find our rhythym – but he’s a hard worker and that will be a great asset. Jack will clearly make a big difference in terms of forward thrust when he returns.
    Defensively very solid after the first 15 minutes and Dortmund did a good job of blocking the midfield and wings. Let’s not forget they are the German champions so a point away is fair enough – but oh, so close to all three. 😦

  9. Just Another Luke


    I guess we have to accept the package that Song is. If he plays with the handbrake on to avoid “silly” free kicks, we won’t get the same solid Song performance.

  10. I hope that Arsenal will go well,after signing new players.The result of last night game it is good start for coming up.I trust manager wenger

  11. I would have been happy with a point before the game started so I am happy now. Lots to work on from the performance point of view, but plenty of commitment in the game. A cruel time to concede an equaliser, but Dortmund definitely deserved a point and if I were a Dortmun fan I’d say they deserved all three. If we can keep the defensive performance from last night while upping our attacking play then we will get back to consistent winning ways quickly enough.

  12. Very fair summing up of last nights game YW

    Walcott and Gervinho were poor.Theo is pace and thats it.What is the point of Gervinho beating two players then running straight into a third like he did on numerous times last night.Someone needs to tell him to look up and become a team player

    Szczesny and Sagna brilliant again
    Arteta and Yossi were disappointing too many stray passes.Song improved after an awful first half but once again he gave away a stupid free kick that cost us

    And why did we bring on the hopeless Chamakh for the last 10 mins instead of Young.Chamakh didnt touch the ball.He is a waste of space

    Overall a good point.Santos must start on saturday as must AA23 instead of either Walcott or Gervinho

  13. Song gave away very few free kicks.His timing was superb,and so was his positioning and his closing down.In short he gave a display that justified those who claim he is the best DM in the league.
    Theo was poor ,but we come to expect it if the game does not suit his somewhat limited skills.Gervinho was more of a let down for me.Those who claim Diaby does not release the ball quickly enough will surly have found a new player to moan about.
    Benthegoon(do you like that?) does not get our style yet ,but showed enough skill and application for us to be happy in the knowledge that he is good enough do adapt and fit in,sooner rather than latter.
    Santos is liable to be first choice from what we have seen so far this season.
    Arteta is nothing if not brave,It looks like he will add the steel that is missing in young Jack’s absence.

  14. The midfield dislocation was apparent throughout, they had us by the throat in the middle a lot of the game, but hardly surprising with 4 midfielders, any one and likely two of whom would have started, and a defender short. Otherwise, quite excellent. I am still amazed really at the defensive strengths, right down to organisation at corners, and Per methodologically pointing and talking to his mates. He exudes calm.

    It is a very, very good result against a highly competitive team, their work rate simply astonishing, and they’re mostly not even Japanese.

    Bill must be in a sweet place.

    Barca held at home, tee hee.

  15. Too many are praising Song on his 2nd half performance which he was very good but what about the first 45???

    Very good summary YW.Our big problem with Arteta,Benayoun,Walcott and Gervinho was the lack of ball retention
    I dont belive we can get away with playing Theo or Gervinho especially away from hom.Its one of the other

    But in Szczesny we really have the real deal.Our best player by a country mile this season

  16. Good result from yesterday’s game, determined performance, but arsenal could have done more collectively in the attacking part of our game, we seem to be too slow going forward IMO. Once again good display from the lads it is never easy defending for a greater portion of the game

  17. Just Another Luke

    For sure, the home leg against Dortmund will be another test of our progress come 23rd November. Hopefully, we would have blended the new boys by then and our missing key players will be back.

  18. Balanced report.

    What worries me these days is that we cannot press opposing team players. Only one of our players run and loses his energy.

    It seems there is a problem in the organization of the team and commitment of the players. And Wenger is very much responsible for that. Had it not been for Dortmund’s poor finishing, they could have scored three or four goals.

  19. YW

    May be I watched a different game but Gibbs did well and your constant attack on the boy is most unfortunate.

    Don’t pretend to know better than Arsene Wenger in the game.

  20. Gordon,?
    What did you expect Chamakh to do ?His job was to prevent their defence from joining in attacks,A job he did,Nobody passed him the ball because we hardly had it after he came on,
    A bit harsh is being kind to you,
    Andrei should start before either Theo or Gervioho not because they need to be dropped but because he is a better player,However I would stick with them both a Saturday because if they feel they have been dropped it could do more harm than good.

  21. Arteta and Ben were simply over-awed by the speed required in these kinds of games. By the time you’ve controlled the ball, if you don’t already know your next move, they’re at you. Good experience for both.

    It’s their attitude that will see them both through this early stage to become real Arsenal players. Excellent, both. Although YW was probably right, we should have started Frim who looked composed and effective when he came on. Theo is a striker, and unlike RvP, entirely dependent on an efficient midfield. It’s his weak spot. 3Gs was OK, he did a job, all over the park if you noticed. I like him. His special goal is coming. But note how well they had planned for Theo and Gervinho, how excellently Dortmund controlled the flanks, how often our wide players had three players swarming around them, Barca-like, and had to retreat.

    Dortmund had this one pretty well planned.

  22. Maturks,If Santos becomes 1st choice will you come back and apologise to yogi.and stop pretending to know more than him?Because clearly you do not.

  23. ZimPaul,but when the opposition employ those tactics on the flanks ,you have to release the ball before you get surrounded, don’t you think?They failed to do this,Or so it seemed to me.

  24. VP- the speed of the counter attacks will come. Once the players begin to know each others strength they will build a good understanding Arteta and Song might not be fast , it is the speed of thinking thta matters. to get the ball to the other side in a flash you don’t need speed but understanding, it will take 3 to 4 passes to score on a counter attack. Last night the passes did not go to plan and that will come with the team playing more games together. To be fair to Walcott he looked really knackered he could not run in the end. Gervinho on the hand is very confident, he has so much ability he wants to take on the entire defence, sometimes a simple pass is the better option but they are all still finding the right balance, We have to be patient, it will take a bit of time. at the momnet grinding result is the best option.

  25. Zimpaul @ 10:41am
    Agree wit you totally about arteta & benayoun, frimps stabilized the midfield & we had more of the ball when he came in, but our midfield was not fast enough to translate defence into attack the only time we did we scored and that was between walcott and van persie

  26. A very good result. A point won away at the German champions is a good achievement.
    Our defence is showing a lot more resiliance, but I am quite worried about where the goals are going to come from, if (God forbid) RVP gets injured, as we are struggling to score even with him in the team. We also have a midfield that doesn’t score many goals.
    I am really pleased with the new battling attitude that is being shown by the team though. Long may it continue!

  27. “It seems there is a problem in the organization of the team and commitment of the players. And Wenger is very much responsible for that”.

    What complete rubbish. Toss in the dustbin and start again Setednagw Gaddafi. Where are you anyway? Everyone is looking for you.

    A team that has barely had 3 or 4 practice sessions all together, with four key midfielders out, 3 totally new players in, plus several returning after short absences, takes on the German champions and expects what exactly? Miracles? It was a very good performance, and against a good team, when you understand the circumstances. Well done buys! Well done Wenger! Well done Pat Rice!

  28. Maturks

    > Don’t pretend to know better than Arsene Wenger in the game.

    Never said that I did.

    You’ve missed the point of blogging haven’t you. Either that or taken the extreme view that there can be no criticism of any Arsenal player.


  29. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one result worth talking about. We have not lost yet in the CL in three games, and that’s not easy travelling twice away in Europe, with their fans in your face, and against two strong teams. It takes effort, and no little management with all the changes taking place. Well done. It’s the right start.

  30. Song gave the ball away several times in possession. I don’t know why he wins the ball and instead of releasing it wants to dribble which ends up losing the ball? He does that in almost every game. Is he a DM or wants to play like Messy? Well, Frimpong is at his heels now.

    He’s overrated like Denilson was.

  31. I have noticed that when the team plays well it is because the players click and gel,But when we play less well its Wenger’s fault,and no one else’s,Strange phenomenon that one!!!!

  32. It’s fair to say that Gibbs allowed too much space down his side, did not link particularly well with 3Gs, seemed timid when he had the ball, and twice or so was really caught. Song and Arteta did a great job mopping up. It might be described as a naive performance. But the skills are there. A bit of self-confidence is what he needs, and maybe Santos will provide that.

  33. H*ward you are such a comedian.

    tbh Song’s dragback past Messi at The New Arsenal Stadium last season was very funny.

  34. Just Another Luke

    To the poster who said this: “It seems there is a problem in the organization of the team and commitment of the players. And Wenger is very much responsible for that.”

    You must have missed YW’s classic comment in a recent posting, which reflect the “It’s all Wenger’s fault” gangs’ witchhunting philsophy.

    “His words (about the economic hurricane about to sweep through Europe) will no doubt come back to haunt him as Arsenal are blamed for any economic slump, “It’s all Wenger’s fault, if he hadn’t mentioned it, this would not have happened“.”

  35. Time for Shotta to gloat. But for positive reasons.
    Last season and during the summer I made the point on this blog that, contrary to the plundits and the usual crowd, Koscielny was a massive defensive signing, a super tackler with a Breckenbauer-esque passing range. This didn’t stop the usual suspects for rounding on him and hyping Samba and Cahill. Jon-Jon, in particular, sneered at my description of his passing ability. Despite the carnage at Man Utd he was quality and once again against Dortmund. The figures don’t lie (liars figure). According to @arsenalreport Arsenal Report:

    Laurent Koscielny had a massive game, winning the most aerial duels (5) and blocking the most shots (4) on the pitch.

    Koscielny also made the most clearances on the pitch (17), and had 100% long ball accuracy – 4 successful long passes out of 4 attempted.

  36. Maturks, was Gilberto Silva also overrated?
    Perhaps the answer is that you don’t understand the job of DM .This seems likely as you don’t appear to understand much.

  37. Everyone gave the ball away in possession, as a matter of fact. Had Messi some of the skills our Song has, he really would be the best player ever to grace the game. Song’s ball retention skills are excellent, and his method unusual.

  38. But Shotta Merson and Hansen don;t rate him!
    Could it be that they are wrong?Surly not?They are ex pro’s!! They get paid for it!!
    They must be right .Right?
    Personally I think he is as good as there is in the league,Including our own TV,Who is also a great CB.

  39. Paul.give us your Song thing again.It was magic 🙂

  40. Yep, Shotta, can’t agree with you more about Kos. What one might call a ‘towering’ performance. He is something else isn’t he?

  41. I seemed to have watched a different game from many. I thought our 1st half performance was better than second. Yes we gave away a few chances first half but were competing to control midfield and ended up with majority of possession. Second half we just sat back to defend. Taking no chances of losing possession in our half meant we stopped trying to play through midfield and only brought on more pressure.
    I can’t agree Sagna had a great game , there were too many spaces down our right which were exploited.
    And don’t blame Theo and Gerv for their poor games, they got little support from Arteta and Ben who were rarely available to receive a pass.
    if we had have carried on as we did in the first half I think we might well have grabbed a 2nd, but perhaps we would have conceded more, I can understand us closing shop, but don’t think it is what we are best at.
    Overall a good result and a good performance.

  42. Shotta

    I agree. I said last night Kos was MoTM for me.

  43. George. The best player I have personally ever seen on the flanks in tight situations was none other than Bobby Pires. In some ways his game was quite simple, one-two short passes, but it was the speed and accuracy of those passes that amazed, and boy could he wriggle out when needed. You also need to have the technical ability to beat one player, and bobby had that too.

    Arshavin has a not dissimilar approach down the left, and 3Gs is certainly adept enough. Walcott on the right and Gibbs on the left lack this level of skill as yet, and so run into cul-de-sac.
    A simple thought though, players who play a lot of indoor five-a-side also get good at the “tight game”, and although the wall is their one-two partner, they understand the basic system.

  44. Great piece Yogi.

    As said last night, great result for the lads. Sickening in the manner.

    Mert/Kol were brilliant in the second half, but the best CB on show by some distance was Hummells. Wow. What a player that kid is. Hummells / Goetze – two who need to don the red and white.

    Delighted with Bennayoun, dont think he is getting nearly enough plaudits as his tenacity and intelligence of tracking was able to rescue Song during the first half when the latter consistently gave the ball away and got caught in possession.

    Thought the Cameroonian had a mixed game. The second half he epitomised the courage of our defensive unit, the first half he epitomised the lack of coherence and fluidity in this new team.

    Song, regardless of age, is our second most experienced and senior player at the club. He must be the player we look to for solidairty and security. He grew as the game went on of course, but perhaps we may not be so fortunate next time as Dortmund walked through our midfield at ease in the first 25 minutes, and were very wasteful.

    Song had a chance to rectify his poor show in the first half, and he took it, and smashed it. For that I applaud him.

  45. Luke

    How can you say Hummells was the best CB when we hardly attacked them?

  46. Dups,

    I was just really impressed with his performance. His distrubution was outstanding, won pretty much every challenge, and was the foundation of Dortmunds pressure in the second half.

    We’d win the ball back, try move into attack, Hummells would mop up, and start another wave of attacks.

    Similar style to TV IMO.

    Cracking talent for 22, ridiculous that Bayern let him leave on a free.

  47. S Degafi: “What worries me these days is that we cannot press opposing team players. Only one of our players run and loses his energy.

    It seems there is a problem in the organization of the team and commitment of the players. And Wenger is very much responsible for that. Had it not been for Dortmund’s poor finishing, they could have scored three or four goals.”

    We forced Dortmund to make many errant passes. This means we pressed and did so well. I think our biggest problem was that we had trouble linking the midfield and the strikers. But that’s understandable as Arteta and Yossi are new to the system. Personally, I think Yossi was all over the place and seemed like he was lost. As our play maker he had a nightmare last evening. This being said, I think he’ll get better the more he learns Wengerball.

    I disagree with you about Dortmund’s poor finishing. They finished poorly for a reason. Mertesacker and Koscielny prevented them from being composed in front of goal. Our finishing could’ve been better also, given that we were the ones who had one on one chances with the goalkeeper. They never did.

  48. A draw was the fair result.
    Kos & Song were super.
    really missed Jack, Abou & AA
    Dortmund press well but would be destroyed by quality counter-attacks.
    A young team that will improve if kept together BUT
    we have a better squad.

    we march on
    next game: BLACKBURN

  49. Excellent write up Yogi, a very good read, thank you.

    I noted that someone criticised you in the “don’t pretend you know more than Arsene” vein, when clearly you hadn’t anyway.

    Being realistic in assessing the team or individual players is, of course, a subjective opinion, and invariably ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ as the adage goes.

    All opinions are valid and should not be sneered at, so good for you in saying much the same and that that is the point of a footie blog.

  50. Shotta, I thought Koscielny was MOTM last night as well. His positioning and anticipation are top shelf. Another coup from le prof and, unfortunately, a player the moaners will continually take pot shots at because he didn’t cost £25m.

    I was impressed by Hummels, but I think our wayward attack made him look better than what he is. The commentator on the feed I was watching thought he’s much better than Mertesacker, since he’s apparently keeping Per out of the German NT, eventhough he captained them not a week ago, and mentioned his role as an unused sub against England to heap even more praise on him.

  51. One thing about Gibbs performance – He was up against gotze most times, their most obvious attacking him offering nothing going forward was very very understandable..thought he was more than half decent actually..

  52. Great post Yogi

    Great result for us last night horrible conceding a late equilizer but it was the least they deserved. I would of been delighted with a draw before kick off.

    Good to see the team show excellent spirit and guts last night. Havent seen an arsenal team in europe put there bodies on the line like that in a long time.

    Its understandable that the midfield didnt gel properly and this left our attackers isolated.

    Kosciellny, Mertasacker and Song all had great second halfs after dodgy 1st (especially kosciellny and song)

    I thought Bennayoun looked quality last night was really impressed with him all round and he looks like a great addition to the squad. To me he showed more craft and courage last night than i’ve seen in rosicky in years.

    If we are being honest we were set up in the wrong way from the start and our gamble shouldnt have paid off. We should have been at least 2 down within 10 min. Our high line was an awful call in such a game against such opposition.

    Wenger must learn to adapt his tactics, especially with a side searching for comminality and form.

    Graet result though and hopefully the boys will have taken allot out of the game. Lets put a run of form together.

  53. Completely agree about Kos being MOTM…

  54. After a poor first half, the team and in particular the defense with Chezzer, Sagna, Kozzer and Song rallying hard improved a great deal.

    My only observation was that the heart many of them showed by throwing themselves in front of the ball (Arteta caught a smacker on the head doing just that) reflected a desperation that a more organized defensive strategy would have solved.

    I will answwer my own comment by saying that, of course, this is early days for basically a new team, and the organizational skills and knowing each other’s play will come as they play together more often.

    Overall I was very pleased with the performance and the result.

  55. YW,

    Truth be told, we were out-foxed, outplayed, out-maneuvered. Dortmund totally dominated and outclassed us in every department throughout the entirety of the match. For the first 20-25mins, I had my hands over my face in disbelief at the ease and frequency that Dortmund’s forward players breached our defense.

    At one stage, during the match, I turned to the guy sat next to me and said: “Nasri and Fàbregas wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference on the pitch for us”. He agreed. From what I witnessed, confidence is truly amiss from this current Arsenal side.

    We never strung more than 6 passes together, at any one time. For the most part, Arsenal were on the back foot; not because they had tactically set out to be so; rather due to the team’s inability (since last season) to impose itself on opponents, by retaining the ball through simple passing and making the ball possession count in the final third.

    Fortunate, we were with a draw away from home in an unforgiving environment. Hopefully the team can build on this newly found resilience (when playing badly) and become more cohesive in coming weeks. Only way plausible is up. Surely.

    PS: Szczesny, Song, Sagna, Mertesacker, van Persie covered themselves with glory. Arteta, brave that he is, was subdued, not from his lack of trying but the sheer quality and numbers of yellow jerseys around him.

  56. Hummells distribution was pretty impressive, I still wouldn’t take him over our CB’s. The organization and regrouping ability that Dortmund demonstrated was the most amazing part of their performance, comparable to Barcelona and United. I think it will be tough to top the group after seeing them last night, but we will do it.

    That Gohze kid was brilliant too, no wonder we left it late to get in Benayoun and Arteta after having been trying to get him in.

    Pretty pleased with the result. The criticism of Theo and Gervinho obviously comes from a lack of understanding of how our midfield was pinned back for much of the game. Very rarely Benayoun and Arteta managed to bring the ball into their half. With a completely new midfield up against the German champions, u can forgive them for not being 100% positionally. I felt Arteta and Benayoun both done pretty well, held it when they needed to, played the right passes, and showed a lot of commitment which was a huge factor in us getting a result.

    Had Gervinho burried one of his chances he manufactured we would be comparing him to past greats today. His day will come very soon. Like i predicted before the game, he troubled Dortmund massively. He is the one they will play closer attention to at the Emirates as he tortured them on occasions last night and allowed us to re-group with his solo surges forward.

    Song i thought was excellent and arguably our man of the match (Koscielny being another who comes to mind), you can’t criticize a DM for giving 1 freekick away. Frimpong gave 3 away in 3 minutes in his last game..

  57. it was a good point but at the end the midfield is very worrying it puts so much pressure on the defence by constantly losing the ball. Most of the match yesterday we failed to make more than 5 passes it was the same against Swansea. Hope we work on our pressing too. Hope Wenger fixes these problems in the coming few weeks kinda miss the passing game

  58. Maturks, Song is not overrated. Song is quite simply one of the best DMs in Europe at the moment. I seriously can’t think of any player in the continent or in England that does a better job at disrupting an attack like Song does. He’s also very good with the ball at his feet and his passing range is also very good. If there’s a better DM than him by all means tell me who he is because I just can’t seem to think of any.

  59. Borges,

    That is a realistic assessment of the game, and I could not disagree with you.

    I covered my eyes on more than one occasion at our inability to make simple passe without passing the ball back to the keeper from 30 or 40 yards.

    But to be fair, we battled hard and when all is said and done we got a hard earned point and nearly got 3. Against a very good Dortmund team that is a tribute to the guts shown by the lads, and needs to be said as well.

  60. Dortmund did well tactically to isolate Arteta und unfortunately in most cases no one from midfield offered himself up. Benayoun for all his running around did not really offer an option too often so that Arteta could play the pass and move.
    In past times whenever teams tried to man mark Cesc to take him out of the game someone like Denilson or Diaby or whoever else was playing next to Cesc and Song would come and position themselves to be an easy passing option, give Cesc the time to move into a better position and play the simple pass back so that Cesc could create some magic. We need to do that with Arteta as well.

  61. his passing range is also very good


    It’s not that great though Gains. Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Kheidra, Schweingster, all defensively focused players whose passing ranges are utterly superior to Song.

    His positioning has improved drastically and his heart on show was the most pleasing attribute, especially in the second half, but his passing let the whole side down in the first half, and we could, should have been punished for it.

    Song has been starting consistently for 3 years, is nearing 200 games for the club, so we should be expecting him to be one of our leading players. When you consider his predecessors, Flamini – Gilberto – Vieria (more b2b i know) – Petit, Song has a long way to go.

  62. Chrisgoona,

    I liked your comment. It was very knowledgeable.

    Both Theo and Gervinho have been criticised on a number of sites for their play last night, and on the face of it rightly so.

    But as you explained, with the midfield being run ragged there were very few thru balls for either of them to run on to, and very little support given when they did move forward.

    Theo in particular needs to use his pace in the space behind the defenders and if he is not given the correct pass it makes life difficult for him.

  63. unfortunately in most cases no one from midfield offered himself up.


    I thought Bennayoun showed more than any of our midfield three – but its an accurate observation, and a gap vacated by LJW which delays our tempo quite significantly.

  64. Gains

    Mate Song has improved but isnt yet anywhere near the top echelons of his position. A great season this eyar then maybe.

    He was continuelly at fault in the fist half but played great in the second half.

    Alonso, Schewinstager, Busquets, M’Vila (maybe), Khdeira, Essien, De Rossi are all a level above our alex. That isnt a criticism of him as he defitnely has the potential to be there but you need to put forward consistently good performances over a decent period of time to be considered with those players.

    He appears to be learning though which is great news.

  65. M’Vila would probably be a yes if AW bid a club record fee for him??

  66. Shotta @ 11:10,

    You are obviously a Kozzer fan. Me too.

    Apart from the attributes you have already listed, I like his energy, enthusiasm and ‘give it everything’ attitude.

    When TV comes back, I would like him to partner Merte at CB and for Kozzer to be employed in midfield and not get stuck on the bench.
    He wants to win, and altho’ he sometimes makes a mistake he has plenty of guts — we need more of that!

  67. I thought Gervinho was fouled in that play where he got in between Subotic and Weidenfeller, Chris.

    Borges, I honestly never felt like we would concede from any of their chances bar Kagawa’s and that shot that went over the bar from Großkreutze early on. Other than that, their crosses were almost always easy grabs for Szczesny and they never broke past our back two to be one on one with our keeper.

    As far as confidence, the fact that we almost beat Dortmund away speaks for itself. What we lacked was understanding in the middle. Had Ramsey plaued, I think we would’ve beat them comfortably. I thought Arsene was a mad man to let Banayoun play himself into understanding the system. I would’ve preffered Arshavin in the number ten role myself.

  68. Red Arse

    Thanks. I think Theo normally prefers tough away games as it gives him the space to break at pace. Last night though Dortmund done a fantastic job of doubling and tripling up on the wings. I was very impressed and its quite a reality check to think there are other very good teams out there on the continent. We could have wrapped up the game through Gervinho, he proved a handful for them and had a couple good chances which he created himself.

    Dortmund’s performance just made me wonder whether we can get back to any level we hit last season. I am encouraged because we have a very determined group of talented players, some fresh blood, and hopefully some renewed confidence. Such a philosophy and playing style takes time though, and you can see Dortmund are more of a team than us at this point.

    The team needs to gel and fast, we have never not been able to string passes together under Wenger until now. It isn’t a question of talent, just personnel and playing time. With Vermaelen and Wilshire absent, two of our best players, it doesn’t help and probably exaggerates the situation some what. I just hope by the end of the season that the demanded changes haven’t cost us a few league spots.

  69. @Luke
    Agree on Schweinsteiger and Xabi Alonso (but they are not DM’s in the traditional sense like Makelele/Essien/Van Bommel etc., they are usually employed as deep-lying playmakers) but I am baffled that you would say that Khedira or Busquets would have a better passing range. Busquets passing range is usually 5 yards, because for the most part he is just linking play together and providing an easy option for Xavi or Iniesta to play the pass and move. Khedira, who I see year-in, year-out in the German national team, is nowhere near in passing range or even vision to Song. Song looks like Cesc Fabregas compared to Khedira.

  70. Can i join in inthe gloating? or does my avatar speaks for itself!

    So i wasnt the only one who noticed Gervinho doing the same things(several times) that gets Walcott castigated. Arteta did alot of side/back passing that got Denilson into trouble with the know-it all fans but i thought it helped us keep possession, Benayoun looked awed but he ran and harried them all game long which resulted into dortmund losing the ball and other of our players getting it. For a team that hasnt started together this season, it was an encouraging performance. Let’s give them time to gel and see how they do inthe coming weeks.

  71. To be honest Dortmund had a lot of shots … that went nowhere. But when it came to really dangerous chances, we were on equal footing. I can count 3 times where we should’ve scored (Gervinho 1 on 1 twice and Robin when he had acres of space and instead tried to shoot directly with his left peg) and about the same amount for Dortmund (the one chance where Sagna cleared off the line, the Hummels chance and the header directly into the arms of Szczesny).

  72. Jabba: “Alonso, Schewinstager, Busquets, M’Vila (maybe), Khdeira, Essien, De Rossi are all a level above our alex.”

    First, Alonso and Schweinsteiger are not DMs. They are deep lying playmakers. With regards to the DMs you do mention, you’re just throwing around the names of players who are at big clubs. Personally, I think that Alex is better than all of them and not because he plays for Arsenal, but because he’s better collectivelly than everyone of these players. Alex is a mixture of brawn and finesse. None of these players you mention, with the exception of Essien, do what Song does. Physically he’s at another level than any of the players you mentioned and he scores goals which, with the exception of De Rossi and Essien, none of these other players you mentioned do.

    Tactically, I’d say that Busquets has an edge over him, but for stopping play and dribbling himself out of tight situations Alex is better. De Rossi? Really? Not even in his best days at Roma is he better than Song. Look at how good Boateng looks in the serie A and tell me Alex Song wouldn’t dominate that league with one arm tied behind his back. We often forget how much more physically demanding the EPL is compared to other leagues. Khedira is not better than Alex either. I have watched him play plenty of times for Real Madrid and Germany so I am not just being contrarian when I say that Alex is better than he is. Essien is a spent force and I think Alex has taken over his mantle. M’Villa is nowhere near Alex Song. That was perhaps your most delluded choice. I’ve watched him in the French league and I even said the other day that Le Coq should get more chances before we sign someone as overhyped as him.

  73. Firstlady

    I think you miss the point with some people criticsm of Kosciellny.

    He has unbelivable talent and his second half performance showed grit, power and talent in spades.

    He was however at fault twice in the first 10mins when playing them onside and he gave the ball away once which gave them another great opportunity to score.

    Thats 3 mistakes which could have led to goals. So whilst he and Song were marverlous in the second half they were both poor in the 1st.

    We need consistency.

    We could have been looking at our very own Fenerbache due to their lapses in the 1st 10.

    Like i said i was delighted with how the defence played second half but we need to put that in context

  74. Arteta and Kos were impressed with the hardness of Hummells head, or HHH as we say in this business (I have for many years been at the cutting edge of non-german Bundesliga experts who know nothing about german football or footballers, so little in fact that for years I thought a Ballack really was a sharp pain in the goolies, generically not just mine, and by pure chance it turned out to be so true!).

    Anyway, it was interesting to note in the post-match interviews both Arteta and Kos saying HHH was THE major factor in the game, something they had NOT even practiced for (Wenger take note, and spend some money ffs), and Pat Rice in one of his rare moments (showing again the lies told by our manager, Pat Rice is not as Wenger I beleive has alluded to so snidely “deaf, dumb AND blind, his sight is perfect, 20/20; he simply can’t talk usually, it takes time for the words to form), anyway, where was I, no the thing is, Rice said, and I quote “Yeah … um … oh …. aaaaghrgh … yeah … hmmm … no … grrr …”, which of course, behind the accent, means “The thing is, you see, our usual routine at Wengerball Inc. includes banging our heads against a wall in preparation for HHH type situations, no, no, it’s not a joke, really true; it’s great for morale, technical skill, quick passing interplay; but fucking Wenger decides everything around here, even the fucking wall, and the entire pre-season we didn’t get round to head-banging, because you-know-who wouldn’t spend the money. I mean how much is a wall? Yes, you could say we were unprepared for HHH. I suppose now there’ll be a panic responses, 5 walls in 3 days, something ridiculous, 20 staff scouting for walls, contracts every-bloody-where, Ivan doing his special dance thing, massive headaches, but that’s Le Boss. And don’t think you’ll be reading this on the official website either anytime soon. Citeh had their wall in April, SAF had several walls up, even Stoke had a great five-foot thick steel-reinforced wall for their lads. Anyhoo, thanks, good match I thought. Did we win?”.

  75. It was the kind of game you hoped that you’d just hang on and get all three points. Then the opponents score and you go to bed depressed. Only to wake up in the morning and realize that the score wasn’t that bad.

  76. Gainsbourg69

    Problem is that it wasn’t really a number 10 role. Benayoun was tracking back to the edge of his box on most occasions. With the 3 CM’s in a 433 it gets easily confused. I don’t think Arshavin has the build or stamina to perform that role. I could be wrong, but Wenger obviously doesn’t trust him to do it as he would have gave him that chance long ago.

  77. Dunno, Gainsboroug69.

    Arshavin had an uncharacteristically good game against the minnows from Swansea. Same fellow who had a shocker against Manchester United & Liverpool wouldn’t have done diddly ish last night. Let’s not overstep the mark after one decent performance. The front 3 lineup that took to the pitch were the best available option (statistically) that we had going into the Champons League match.


    Yes, we battled hard as evidence by the scoreline. BvD were like bees all over that pitch, i tell you.

  78. A bit harsh Borges, but more-or-less accurate. We are obviously short on confidence, but I still maintain Dortmund has planned well for this affair, and it showed. Our usually effective strategy of attacking as a form of defence was neutralised, and when we did get into a few goalish type situations, it was not so hard to threaten, but we rarely found ourselves there. Their strategy worked, and it was midfield. I am far more confident than you, I think, about the prospects or this team.

  79. I have to agree with Chris, the reality is that our forwards and midfielders were to far away from each most of the game and the goal created was between two forward players. It was a great point and there goal was one of absolutely quality… you just are not going to save those.

    I do take exception to those people raising issues with Song, yes his first 10-15 mins was a major concern but far that he trully was the man all over the park.

  80. Jabba's Delights


    Your making the misake of seeing a dm in only one light.

    In the same way the Song isnt the same dm as Mekelle, well nor are Alonso and Sweinstager. They break up play just as much as song throughout a game the fact that they are brilliant with the ball matters little they are still the dm in their team

    M’villa is a player who our very own manager has spoken about in an incredibly high regard and depending on who you beleive a player we have most defiently launched a club record big for this summer with many thinking we will bid again in Jan

    Khedeira for me is an absolute gem and plays with slightly more intelligence than our Alex. He organizes the rest fo hsi midfield better. Whilst Alex is getting himself in a position to eb able to dominate a game at times with his own ability, he is a long long long way short of making sure the rest of his midfeild carries out there responsibilities.

    De Rossi doesnt get the press he deserves becuase he plays for Roma but you are talking about a world cup winner and a player who has domianted seria since the age of 18. That is a league that puts a much higher premium on tactical awareness and dicipline.

    Anyway good debate and hopefully we will both been in absolute agreement come the end of this seaosn with regards to our alex standing amongst dm.

    To be fair we are placing him like 6-7 in europe which isnt bad is it.

    I could name 4 other players in our squad who could maybe take such positions in europes pecking order for there positions


  81. apologies for the spelling just risen!

  82. 0-1 would’ve beena superb result under any circumstances.

    Lots to be optimistic about from last nights game.

    I prefer for the new (and old) players to ease themselves into Arsenal’s delayed pre-season (cheers Cesc! So long and thanks for all the fish), to peak in the second half of the season and score the crucial winner in a knockout round of the CL.
    Would’ve been nice for Gervais to drunkenly master his way through for a second Arsenal goal. He’ll get better and better as most if not all Arsenal signings do.
    Didn’t notice Koscielny getting turned like D**Mer pin up Hummels for the Arsenal goal or for that Gervais chance last night.
    Kozza is a good shout for MOTM, though I’d have to agree with someone above and award it to the back six.

  83. Was it my imagination or did Wenger punch the air in victory at the final whistle, “Got the point we needed. Nice one lads”.

  84. Chris, I would’ve played him there simply because we were missing any type of creative spark. Benayoun ran around a lot and worked hard, but gave no type of creative impetus to the team. Arshavin would’ve at least kept their middle occupied with his mazy runs and his passing. That would’ve taken a lot of pressure off the team.

  85. Kenyan here here.

    Jaba what point is it that am missing? I didnt say he didnt make mistakes I just acknowledged he was my motm as many people have noted he was theirs.

  86. Where’s The Troof when you need him. S’truth, you can’t throw Arteta and Benayoun on the back of 3 days practice or whatever at the German champions, and their 60,000 screaming fans, and get away with it.

    We did.

  87. ZimPaul,

    I actually believe that our fortune will change over the course of the season. It has to. Once injured players return to fitness & form, and recent acquisitions acclimatize to Wengerball with their new irmãos – a notable & seismic shift of gear will be seen.This much i’m sure of. Wenger, however does have his work cut-out in re-engineering belief back into our boys system in the interim.

  88. Evil – that’s interesting to hear re: Khiedra – I have always been impressed on the occasions I’ve seen him (Germany U21, WC, & Real) – but its an opinion formed on maybe 15? games max…

  89. @ JohnN
    Agree with most of that, particularly the part about sitting back and the midfield not joining up enough with the forwards. Still, good result in the end and something to build on. Very early days still.

    @ Chrisgoona
    Really good points.

  90. Borges, “re-engineering”, and that my friend is exactly the right word.

  91. irmãos ???

  92. YW – balanced write up.

    A satisfying result for Arsenal to build on momentum. Good result also for Pat Rice and certainly good experience for him to be found in this position at a key match.

    Excellent point above about Gervinho. If Diaby had lost the ball as many times as Gervinho did last night – the blogosphere and media would be on their usual witch hunt.

    Second point, so many new faces, understanding will come with time.

    ZP – good point about 3 CL matches – no defeats.

    Our defense grew with the match…….and this is essential for an eventual silverware recipe.

    There is work to be done in midfield and attack with these new players. Those area’s were our real weaknesses last evening. I did appreciate the defensive tactics from Dortmund. We could have been more effective with energy of Wilshere and the experience of Rosicky.

    For Arsenal to win anything, to compete against anyone……our wingers have to ‘expend more energy’ doing the blue collar things required of team play – RATHER THAN WAIT LIKE NOBILITY FOR THROUGH BALLS.

    Arshavin has shown this season that he is willing to get his hands dirty and find other ways to contribute to the team’s result. Theo is still young, but his constant reactions to calls going against him will stagnate his growth as a player AND Park, Ryo, and Ox are lurking for a chance to prove their merit.

    The dark days of the summer are past us.

    On to Blackburn!

  93. Of course I am biased, but that was about as frenzied an atmosphere as I can remember since the AFC-Barfa game.

  94. I realise that Dortmund had more shots on goal than us but after the first 10-15 mins they were lagely left to shot from distance which is a great. Sagna probably is the worlds best RB at the moment and RvP is stellar.

    Way more positives than negatives last night but those front three need to start building a more around each other like the goal, they were way to far apart for most of the game. I am tempted to see us play a 4-4-1-1 formation with RvP in the whole.

  95. Good points Gains/Jab

    I think the key is to understand the respective role each DM plays in thier side.

    Makelele for example, wasn’t allowed to the cross the half way line, and monitored the back 4. A traditional DM. Looking at Alex, who breaks forward, with another midfielder slotting in behind him, he looks to get in the box, and last year, bagged a few goals.

    Even in a comparision between these two, its not unreasonable to suggest Song is more of a box 2 box midfielder in comparison to Makele.

    Which he isnt, he is our DM. In that light, the Alonso’s / Bastian S’s / Yaya Toures of this world, are DM’s for thier sides, but maybe more competent in attack than Alex.

    The best EPL destroyer at present would have to be De Jong in my eyes. limited going forward – but as a game breaking lunactic DM,he fits the bill.

  96. Thanks for the write up YW.

    Interesting comments today.

    I agree with Borges. Hopefully our fortunes will change.

    The pundits have written us off because of the departures of Cesc and Nasri.

    However, as we know, the pundits have written us off in recent years because of what we don’t do when we haven’t got the ball. We have lacked centre halves, a good goalkeeper and competent DM.

    Well. It seems to me that we are well stocked in those areas now. Enter Szczesny, Mertesacker, Koscienly, Song, Sagna. After last night’s performance, you have to look forward with reassurance when you see their names on the teamsheet. We also have Vermaelen to come back as well.

    If we can defend as a team and improve that side of our game, perhaps we can make up for the absence of Cesc. I don’t include Nasri in that because I think he was too peripheral in the last 3 years. He played well for 6 months and was injured/anonymous otherwise.

    In any case, I think we have enough to worry the opposition with the likes of RVP, Gervinho, Walcott, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey.

    It was revealing perhaps that the average age last night of the squad was 25. We had experience on the bench as well.

  97. Sagna probably is the worlds best RB at the moment


    Yup, I’d have to agree with that. He is outstanding and probably our most consistent performer over the last 3 years.

  98. Gainsbourg69 | September 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    totally agree – great points about Song

  99. It means, brothers, in português. I like to think of our team as a group of brothers fighting for one another on the pitch.


  100. Sorry, I cannot remember who first mentioned it, but our starting 4,3,3 was typical AW, intending to make attack the best form of defence. And I am all for that, personally.

    But when it quickly became apparent that our midfield was becoming over-run and “out – muscled’, we were very slow to revert to 4,5,1.

    That might have been put right sooner had Arsene been sitting on the manager’s bench.

    The other change which I thought a bit strange, was the decision to take Theo off and the lumbering Chamakh brought on, increasing the pressure on our midfield/defence.
    Surely with Theo plonked in the middle of the pitch, right on the halfway line, and threatening them with his pace, the whole Dortmund team would not have been able to camp in our half towards the end of the match.

    This sort of substitution has happened before.

    Any strategist out there who can explain/justify such a decision?

  101. I am not seeing the DM in one light, Jabba. If you’re going to compare Alonso and Schweinsteiger to anyone in our team that would be Jackie boy. Otherwise you would’ve named Lampard and Pirlo in addtion to these two, since they are also very good at breaking up play, no? When we’re talking about DMs we’re talking about players tasked with sitting infront of their defnses and covering that entire area while the creative players do their thing. The fact that Song can get forward and score as well as play the holding role sets him apart from the players you mention.

    With regards to Rossi, I’m not using his lack of press against him. Anyone who follows football with any degree of seriousness knows who De Rossi is. He plays in Italy’s third or fourth best team, which is nothing to sneeze at. As for him being a world cup winner, so is Christian Karembeu. That really doesn’t impress me. Nor does the fact that he has been dominating Serie A since he was eighteen. We’re talking right now. If you gave me a choice between Song and De Rossi I’d choose Song.

    If M’Villa were to join Arsenal he’d be back up to Song. You know it and I know it. Don’t bring Wenger wanting him into the discussion just to add more umph to your argument.

    Physically, Song eats Khedira’s breakfast. There is no contest between the two in that department. As far as joining the attack, Alex Song gets forward extremely well. Khedira very seldomly joins the attack and when he does he always looks to lay the ball off. Alex has the ability to carry the ball forward and combines competently with the strikers. I’m not saying that Khedira is shit, mind you. I think he’s a good player, but Song is just more versatile than he is.

    Cheers for the debate as well. I think you’ll come to find that our Song is one of the finest if not the best DM in Europe. Having turned 24 just a few days ago, means we’ll have him for a long run.

  102. Arsene has been using the tall striker in order to defend set pieces for a few seasons now. I suspect that’s why Chamakh was brought on in place of Theo.

  103. Gains – Song’s physicality, doesn’t necessarily mean strength on the ball. LJW isn’t physically big, but he is very very strong on the ball. Song was caught, and overrun multiple times yesterday in the first half.

    I want him to deliever on his promise, of course. It would make us a better team. But if AW bid a club record fee for M’Vila, you’d have to suggest it was for a starting berth, and Song would have been cover CB, with no need to sign Mert. Balance in the squad was always the aim.

    I’d love to see M’Vila join. Think he would start too. We have missed a dynamic DM since Flamini (the best team we’ve had in 7 years).

  104. @ gains

    Good point about Chamakh..makes sense as Dortmund were starting to win quite a few corners and that is the expectation when the home team are chasing the game in the last ten mins..

    but replacing the entire front 3 but 2 out of 3 would have been better in my opinion..would have provided one pacey outlet at least which a front 3 of yossi-chamakh-santos lacked..this allowed dortmund to push up almost to the half way line..

  105. instead 2 out of 3.. sorry..

  106. Perhaps, Gains, but I saw no evidence of that from Chamakh and it did allow Dortmund to do pretty much what they pleased.

    Oh well.

  107. anonymous_gooner

    Borges Spinelli,

    Thank you, now I know who had a shocker against ManU – that was Arshavin. All others were nice and all that, having usual Arsenal fantastic great football, and it was only lasy fat Arshavin who messed it all around.

    It is nothing that the team scores twice against ManU – we all know that Arshavin is pretty useless in attack, so lets assume he just wasn’t there.

    Please remind me, how much of that 8 were Arshavin own goals? I suspect, at least 2 or 3, right? Or, maybe he is so bad, that he is even unable to score an own goal.

  108. Great balanced summary Yogi. Lost our clean sheet on really lucky goal but overall I think getting a point was a highly favorable result.

    Very happy with our defensive performance. I don’t want us to park the bus in front of goal but sometimes you have to be able to defend deep and hold a lead when your attack is not able to command the game. The ability to grind out results is a major positive over the course of the season. Eventually we are going to have to start scoring some more goals but even the best teams will have runs of bad form when they struggle to score but defense is about committment and concentration and should almost always be consistent even when attacking form is not there. I realize this team has not gelled yet but we have not seen any “beautiful” football for quite some time and the personnel of this team are not as suited for that type of game as some of our past teams. My biggest hope is that we find some way to adapt and make ourselves more efficient. I think we will get better but I also think its probable that unless we make adaptations we are going to struggle to score more then most of our past teams so our defense will need to be solid all season. My biggest concern is that we become impatient and start trying so hard to bring back the “beautiful football” that we lose the defensive solidarity we seem to be developing.

  109. Luke, I completely agree with regards to De Jong. As a destroyer he is a maniac. This being said, however, the reason why Man City drew so many games last season is because Mancini sacrificed a creative player who could link up with Tevez and Da Silva in order to accomodate the dutchman. Arsene, on the other hand, doesn’t have that problem because Song is as adept at destroying as De Jong is, but, due to his versatility, while not counting against the team creatively. This is why Song, to me, is the best DM going around at the moment. That offensive versatility coupled with defensive tenacity is rare and Alex possess it.

    With Khedira the same problem arises. Khedira is a sharp marker and can destroy play very well, but since he’s not that good offensively his team has to play a more creative player somewhere else and that position over there is also affected by this imbalance. Look at any Madrid v Barcelona game last season. Whenever Khedira was on the pitch Barcelona were able to neutralize them because Di Maria and Ozil, two players who offer very little defensively, had to be played together to compensate for Khedira’s creative shortcomings. Add to that the fact that they have to play with Ronaldo and you have three players who do nothing defensively. You put Khedira to defend against Messi, Iniesta and Xavi and not only do you have a mismatch but you are more likley to lose possession in the middle as well.

  110. Guys, I didn’t say it was smart of Wenger to replace Walcott with Chamakh, I’m just telling you why he might have done it.

    Luke, Song was virtually going at it lone in the midfield with two or three Dortmund players at a time. Had Benayoun provided a creative outlet our midfield wouldn’t have had that amount of pressure on them. Did you notice how the same thing happened to Arteta? Did you see how many lateral and negative passes we played yesterday?

    If you’re going to point to Song’s being dispossessed yesterday, you might do well to remember how well he played against an equally chipper Udinese. Song was immense in that game because he had Ramsey and Rosicky alongside him delivering the ball to Theo and Gervinho, which made Udinese back off.

  111. On a side note, the blog that everyone hates is basically saying Kloop is doing himself a world of favours to be in consideration when AW finally hangs up his “boots”.

    Lot of similar attributes, works well on a tight budget, focuses on youth development, plays attractive, passing possesion football.

    Not a ludacrous shout. Lets see if he can deliver at Dortmund consistently over the coming years, but I wont be suprised if we get to know him a lot better.

  112. Yes we did have some shortcomings but inspite of that we got the draw, that is amazing. There is much more to be happy about to me. The fact that our team is not confident, have lost some of our best players and has new players yet to get it and we still draw against the German champs, isnt that a reason to positive?

    For those who are saying how many opportunites they had (we had decent chances also), we more than most fully know that more shots and possession dont always win games, Milan vs Barca last night was a perfect example.

    I didnt even mention that our team still has some of its best players injured. To big up Diaby (not to continue yesterdays arguement), that guy is undoubtedly one of our best players.

    The offense will come, give it time! What would be good is for the forward players to come back into play to give the center mids more passing options. Until the new players get used to the style i think we will have to play a little different.

    Have a blessed day all!

  113. Song was brilliant last night. Thats all that needs to be said about that. He hasnt played in a while and it took him time to get back into the swing of things. Gervs also needs some time to get back in the swing of things, if not for Barton he would have scored already with a few more assists.

  114. Pardon my French but who gives a fwuck what those uncredible groaning canutes have to say?

    Oh. Right. As you were.
    Move along now. Nothing to see here.

  115. One Arsene Wenger
    There’s only one Arsene Wenger

    One Arsene Wee-e-eenger



    “for many the ferocity and personal nature of the abuse verges on hate speech”

    Haters gotta hate.

  117. Finsbury,I cant understand how people even know what is being said on Le Grove.Why the fook would you want to read such shite?

  118. Paul Merson said City’s second team is better than our first team.
    Well I say he is a twat and anyone who say’s any different can join him.

  119. And then regurgitate said b*ll*cks elsewhere.
    From the most lampooned and highly uncredible *coughs* ‘Arsenal’ blog after ANR (which is quite an achievment).

    Very odd. I agree PG.

  120. Paul N

    Song was brilliant for 45mins,the second 45 mins.The first half he was continually robbed of the ball.

  121. Alan, well I did say it took some time for him to get into the swings of things, didnt I?

    Song was Brilliant. Thats all that needs to be said about that.

  122. In 12 months time Song
    wont get into the team because he will be replaced by the mighty Frimpong who will have one more year under his belt.Frimpong is the new Essien

  123. Anyway, its easy to look at our own negatively.. Its like Borges saying how we couldve been down early yesterday without talking about our chances. Fact is, we couldve been up way before Dortmund had a blow wow chance at goal. As far as clear cut goal scoring chances, there was not much between the two teams. That said Dortmund did play the better offensive and possession ball, no doubt.

  124. The Arsenal assistant manager, Pat Rice, is confident the club have turned the corner after they secured a point in their Champions League Group F match at Borussia Dortmund.

    With Arsène Wenger forced to watch from the stands due to a touchline ban, Rice was the man charged with leading the side. Despite a late volley from Ivan Perisic levelling the score after Robin van Persie’s first-half goal seemed to have given Arsenal an unlikely win, Rice is confident that the side can now gain some momentum.

    Asked whether Arsenal have turned the corner, he said: “Very much so. It seemed the game on Saturday [against Swansea] was our start of the season because of the uncertainty as to who the players would be that leave us.

    “The players that we have acquired are very, very good players, contrary to what other people have said. I have no doubt that they will show it and in the games to come.”

    Arsenal were forced to defend resolutely throughout the match in Germany, with Dortmund playing in a free-flowing 4-2-3-1 formation.

    “It was very much like playing Arsenal,” Rice added. “Now we know what it is like whenever we are on form. But our lads stuck to it well. It was a very hard game for both sides.

    “When Gervinho went through, the tie could have been over if he stuck it in the back of the net. So really and truthfully you could argue that a point apiece was a good result.”

    The Borussia Dortmund manager, Jürgen Klopp, was delighted by his side’s performance.

    “I hoped the defeat against Hertha Berlin at the weekend would not have any influence tonight. We found our style, we were able to impose our game and we were very disciplined in defence. We did great marking in defence and it was a great achievement by my team.

    “We created a lot of chances. I know we didn’t use them really but we did well. I am very satisfied with the performance of my team today. Arsenal is a very offensive-playing team and we were able to hold them. We were rewarded with one point from this hard fight and it is great for this young team to have achieved this draw.”

  125. On the song vs other DMs debate..I feel its very unfair to compare players in this position because lot of what they do is dictated by the midfielders around them and the system which each team its never quite an apple to apple comparison and sometimes almost apples and oranges..

    All that can be judged is if the player is doing his job well in a particular team

    For Song that answer is Hell Yes in my opinion!!

  126. Firstlady | September 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    We gloat, not selfishly, but to remind the “canutes” and “groaners” as described by Finsbury, that when it comes to appraising an Arsenal player, the collective opinion of ACFers is a thousand times more accurate than the plundits and the AAA blogs.

    I am going to unashamedly rub it in their faces. Compliments of’s Tim, some more figures:
    “And Koscielny was a beast. Ten of Arsenal’s 21 clearances were Koscielny’s. I’ve already mentioned the four interceptions, but what about zero fouls? Or what if I told you he had four blocked shots, one less than Borussia Dortmund’s entire team (5). He also won 4 of 6 aerial duels and had 83 touches, second on the team only to Bacary Sagna (87).”

  127. Good first half. Didn’t control the game enough in the second. The defense (especially Sagna) did well to keep it down to 1. Both Gibbs and Walcott had poor games. Gervinho also faded away after a bright start. Some great tackling by Song. Well taken goal by RVP. Still early days to pass any kind of judgement on the team. But this is not the Arsenal I am used to.

  128. Did anyone else notice how Dortmund continually were launching that diagonal ball into Sagna’s corner, only for access to be denied? Bacary is so good at what he does it is almost boring to watch. Boring if you support the opposition that is.

  129. this isn’t the Arsenal we’re used to in seasons past, but again are we seeing a different Arsenal today that can defend as a unit and with such commitment ? Its a new team this season, don’t mind starting to rebuild from the ground up ( the back-defence that is.)

  130. Bradys right foot

    I think Song along with Sagna are the most underrated players in the premier league. I once heard a guy on the radio who’s paid an awful lot of money to talk about football say he didn’t rate Sagna, it was my Cashley moment I nearly crashed the car.

    Alex is a massive player for us, I think he was sorely missed against Liverpool and Utd. In my opinion he’s not a defensive midfielder, he’s what used to be a commonly referred to as just “a midfielder”, for those to young to remember a “midfielder” was expected to be good on the ball, pass and move and yes even go forward in support of an attack now and again. When out of possession the midfielder would track runners, make tackles, interceptions and win the ball back.

    Graeme Souness scored close to 37 goals for Liverpool and created more than that in some 230 odd games for the Scousers, he was regarded at the time as a magnificent footballer and brillant midfielder, now he is regarded as a fine example of a defensive midfielder utter bollocks. Some of the nonsense talked about midfielders is ridiculous, if Song surges forward there is a responsibility on another midfielder to take up a suitable tactical position. As for Songs ability he is very good on the ball, infacrt he looks as adept as Jack Wilshere while in possession and gives the ball away less, he’s just not english.

    Oh and as for Makelele he was a modern variant on the sweeper playing infront of the defence.

  131. Bradys right foot

    shotta | September 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Firstlady | September 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    We gloat, not selfishly, but to remind the “canutes” and “groaners” as described by Finsbury, that when it comes to appraising an Arsenal player, the collective opinion of ACFers is a thousand times more accurate than the plundits and the AAA blogs.

    I am going to unashamedly rub it in their faces. Compliments of’s Tim, some more figures:
    “And Koscielny was a beast. Ten of Arsenal’s 21 clearances were Koscielny’s. I’ve already mentioned the four interceptions, but what about zero fouls? Or what if I told you he had four blocked shots, one less than Borussia Dortmund’s entire team (5). He also won 4 of 6 aerial duels and had 83 touches, second on the team only to Bacary Sagna (87).”

    Face it shotta he’s shit, the doomers know, Le Moan knows, Merse knows. A pale french version of the mighty Gary Cahill not good enough for Arsenal.

  132. Dy @ 7:11:

    Building from the back to front is the way it should be done.

    Mancini playing his strongest line up for the home game today against Napoli. I think Fergie may have lost it. After all the success with having 2 strikers in the PL he goes to Rooney along up top and then a 5 man mid field including 4 old farts and Valencia who has not yet played a minute this season. Left Ferdinand home and doesn’t play Jones. Strange line up. Hope he gets burned for being so damn cocky and looking ahead to the weekend game with Chelsea.

  133. good post yogi ,just like the performance encoraging

  134. Brf, yep, it was simply a midfielder and that player had to be a jack of all trades and do them well.

    I used to play that role in my youth and it was an absolute joy to do the work at the back and then “link” it to the forwards and get in there with some goals now and then.

    It still bothers me that I didnt take football more seriously once I came to the US! Kinda lost the vibes!

  135. That’s three European fixtures now this season where midway through the second half I’ve gone “fuck, I wish we could bring Denilson on”.

  136. Vince, you never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone! Reading Denilson’s tweets you can see that he still cares about the club, but I think the attitude of a lot of fans towards him and particularly the abuse he faced when he dared to criticize the golden boy (who turned out to have feet of clay), really soured him towards continuing to play here. He showed real promise early on, but the goodwill was just not there amongst the fanbase to support him when he lost his way to allow him time to find his feet again.

  137. Good write-up Yogi and a good result for the team last night. We’re still gelling and were playing against the German champions.

    Totally agree about moving away from 4-3-3 as well.

  138. Get in (talking about the Benfica game…)

  139. What a goal by Benfica!

  140. 0-1 Benfica. Nice goal.
    Benfica have been the better team.
    You won’t get the manc ‘sympathisers’ on here writing that.
    Still 2/3 of this game to go. The Mancs should be fitter but lets hope they lose. At home. Heh.

  141. I liked the manner that Luisão doubled up and shut out that a-hole, Evra, when he advanced up the flank. A well taking goal by the ever-prolific Óscar Cardozo – that ought to wipe the smirk of the pro-Man Utd pundits. I can hear their hearts melting now. Lol

  142. Ha. Mancs go down 1 -0. Hope they get scalded.

  143. heh its basically a man united reserve team. In the first game of the CL. they must be 110% sure Benfica is so crap it cant even beat their 3rd lineup.

    If benfica looses it would be very embarrasing for them indeed. Hope United loose though:)
    benfica is a exciting team to watch…lots of good technical players…

  144. Poodle, this is a well seasoned team, apart from the goalie. Most of these players have started quite a few matches for United. Benfica are just very sharp.

  145. Poodle – not sure about that mate. For a 3rd lineup, Man Utd have some fairly big signings out there.

    Rooney £25m
    Valencia £16m
    Carrick £18m
    Smalling £10m

  146. That was a great goal from Giggs.

  147. The big money teams, not doing too well thus far.

  148. Unnamed Premier League player scores again.

  149. Sounds like the Blackburn supporters lining up a protest against the current manager. May be a good time to play away against them. Hope the fans are even more unhappy after this weekend.

  150. “Benfica to win”.

    Paul, will you stop that! Everytime it looks like manure might be brought back down to earth, someone like giggs or the hairless wonder come up with something amazing to get them out of jail free!

  151. Double Ha. Blue Mancs down 0 – 1. Lose the first game at home and they are in trouble. They have a tough group.

  152. Again, you speak to soon Bill as they have now equalized!

  153. Tevez looks depressed!

  154. Passenal:

    Bugger. Still not a great result for Man City to draw at home with their best team on the pitch. Hope they choke big time.

  155. i hope today results can help some arsenal fans see that it does take time for a new team to gel?

  156. Benfica is an exciting team. How Aimar is not lining up for the Argie NT is beyond me. The guy still has all the ability in the world. That Nolito is pretty good too. Had he approached that ball better he would’ve scored. The fact that they almost beat MU makes all those doomers who were crying that we lost to them in the pre-season look petty and stupid.

    James M, add to that Phil Jones at £21m and Nani at £17m. That United team was pretty stacked.

  157. Napoli’s keeper?! he didnt even attempt to save the ball.

  158. Both mancs have drawn although I was hoping for more – can’t be greedy though!

  159. Ah football is a wonderful thing. One minute you are untouchable, you are the best in the land and the next minute you are not so great. United and city have been given a reality check tonight and I think they were fortunate not lose.Any fool who thinks thees 2 teams will win everything between them have to think again. Specially here in England were we big up some teams so quickly after just few games (chelsea last season come to mind). The season is very, very long too many competitions, injuries, suspension you name it. Lets se how City do after a tough away C,league game. We’ve through so much so early in the season and that does not make us as bad as they’ve portrayed us. They will have their turn of problems and I don’t care how much money you have, you still have to deal with it. lets hope these results tonight puts everything into perspective. Our result last night was good.

  160. Passenal

    But both the Manc teams got creditable draws against good opposition. Ours yesterday (against a rubbish team) was just lucky.

    You just know that the media will say that.

  161. Arsene moans about a ref’s decisions and he gets charged with improper conduct.

    Dalglish does it and he gets a one 2 one meet with Mike Riley to sort it out.

  162. Enough with the Kos love in. He is shite, end of. No amount of stats will change that. If he was so good, how come he wasn’t mentioned along with PL favourites Song, Sagna and Szczesny here:

  163. Dups ,its a disgrace.
    And the fact that the media was not belittling him is even more evidence of the anti Arsene going’s on.
    I say anti Arsene as I believe it is personal against the Boss rather than against the club.
    I just think people are jealous of his superior intellect and all round class.They prefer a foul mouthed lout like SAF

  164. I didn’t see the game, but happy with the result. This has the makings of a long, unpredictable season. Its gonna be a bumpy ride with so many unknowns, for us and for our rivals.

    I’m not particularly enthused by our chances, and don’t think we will be seeing much of the swash buckling attacking play of previous years, but who knows, eh? Maybe for the first time in years, this team will outperform my expectations.

  165. Dupsffokcuf and george, we know the script only too well – Arsene and Arsenal are held to a completely different standard and it is so obvious I cannot believe there are people who still don’t see it!

  166. Henristic,out of curiosity what would you be content with for this season?
    Where do you think we should finish?

  167. Dups/George,

    To be fair, Arsene’s ban happened in the CL. Fergie has been punished by the FA in the past for mouthing off about refs. Surely you not suggesting that Dalglish is favored over red nose?

  168. To be fair? Managers are not supposed to question referees. If that is the rule, then it should be enforced the same for everyone, but it is clearly not. Fergie is allowed to get away with it 9 times out of 10, it is only when it has reached the 10th time and they’ve run out of excuses for him that they give him a token slap on the wrist to give the appearance of being even-handed. Clearly the strategy works as it manages to fool the simple minded that they are doing something about ‘respect’ in the game. What a fucking joke!

  169. George,
    Tricky question. Going purely by spending/investment, a 5th place finish is where we ought to be. But dropping out of the CL is unthinkable for us. What would happen to Wenger then?

    A very good season for me will be to finish in the top four + a domestic cup trophy. Anything more is nothing short of a miracle.

  170. Passenal,

    Maybe the FA haven’t charged Dalglish because they are waiting for his 9th offence? 🙂

    UEFA is a clearly different entity from the FA and they might both have different rules/enforcement standards. Its the crazy nature of world football and it is what it is. A bit pointless to expect them to behave in the same way now.

  171. Henristic,why should it leave Arsene in a bad place if that is where we should finish?

    Good answer though,You are a very honest chap,are you not?

  172. Fuck me Henristic is annoying. What a fucking WUM.

  173. George,
    Because for the first time since Wenger’s ‘reign’, the club will the losing CL income and all the extra financial benefits and potential that come with it. I’m not at all sure how the board will react to that.
    What do you think?

  174. Ah, my very own stalker arrives. How you doing Loomer?

  175. I think the board know which side their bread is buttered on.
    I think they do understand how hard a period we have been through and how if not for Arsene we would have been mid table for years.
    I think he will be given the funds to ensure we are back in the top 4 next year.

  176. Loomer is a scary dude,as Chill would say. 🙂

  177. Hah. Stalker. Sorry, it’s Lou Reed’s fault. I was listening to Satellite of Love earlier. And to answer your question very well thanks. Be better if you fucked off, but if that’s I’ll I’ve got to complain about today I’m a happy man.

  178. Loomer,
    Doesn’t come across from your post that you’re generally a happy person. Goes to show how much one can deduce from internet personalities.
    Can’t fuck off though, sorry. but I’m sure you’ll survive.

    As far as I know, he was already given funds this year? He’ll have even less to spend if we drop out of top four.
    The appetite for CL income is now there (thanks to Wenger of course). Will the board be able to see beyond that and back Arsene when that income is jeopardized?
    Who knows, but really, we gotta hope it never comes to that.

  179. I go to a ride to the Himalayas & come back to a completely different Arsenal. Hck. What’s going on?!

  180. I go for a ride to the Himalayas & come back to see a completely different Arsenal. Heck. What’s going on?!

  181. Good Evening YW et al anybody got an idea of a stream for tonight? On holiday with Fam?

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