Herr We Go! No Thursday Kick-Offs For Arsenal…
Champions League, Group F
Arsenal 2 – 1 Borussia Dortmund
1 – 0 van Persie (49)
2 – 0 van Persie (86)
2 – 1 Kagawa (90)
English football’s crisis club became a beacon of light in a season where The Great and The Good are setting themselves up to meet pre-tournament favourites in the first knockout phase. Should any of the Mancunian clubs and Chelsea qualify for the next round, they will pray for a trip to Cyprus, Lisbon or St Petersburg. Any more than one of that three going through and they will be able to content themselves with trips to Milan, Munich, Madrid or Barcelona. That is the test that awaits them. That is if they are good enough to join Arsenal beyond the group phase. Chelsea and United have their destinies in their own hands and will probably make it through but City? I don’t think even the petrodollars can buy the Football Gods to save them.
A brace from Robin van Persie early and late in the second half rendered the upcoming trip to Greece as pointless from the Arsenal perspective. Yet much rides on the outcome with Olimpiacos and Marseille able to qualify. The Greeks must consider themselves to be slight favourites, Dortmund still fighting for the right to join any one or more of the Mancunian clubs and Chelsea.
As tempting as it is to laugh at their struggles, we should never forget the united front that all English football supporters have when it comes to the nation’s club sides and their European foes. We should encourage them in their endeavours to recreate the Premier League in midweek. We should but we won’t because seeing any of those three drop into the Europa League with Spurs will go a long way to making this season get better and better.
Dortmund came to retain their interest in this competition and were quickly on the attack. They would enjoy considerable possession throughout. It is unfair to say that Szczesny was not tested but equally untrue to say that he fought a rearguard action. His saves were made to look routine which says more about his positional sense than anything else. The first was an intervention, calmly collecting a through pass before Lewandowski. The same player would go close with a curling shot that ended up the right side of the post from an Arsenal perspective. Inbetween times, the lively Kagawa shot straight into Szczesny’s arms.
At the other end, Theo Walcott was proving Arsenal’s most promising outlet. Beaten to the ball Weidenfeller earlier, Walcott span off his defender to find space on the right following Ramsey’s perfectly weighted pass. The early cross arced into the Dortmund area, evaded the attentions of two defenders before the goalkeeper’s outstretched arm denied it’s path to the onrushing Robin van Persie.
Dortmund started the second half where they spent a considerable amount of time in the first; on the attack. Mertesacker dealt with a dangerous cross before Kagawa tested Szczesny once more. For all of their possession, the visitors had not scored and succumbed in that situation as Arsenal have done in the past.
Ramsey retained possession well on the edge of the Dortmund area, forced backwards into midfield he found Song. The Cameroonean surveyed his options and ran past two defenders in a graceful gallop before dancing through two more defenders into the area. His curling cross was given the finish by Robin van Persie that the run deserved. Mesmerising the visitors with his movement, Song had put Arsenal into the driving seat.
Ten minutes later, Gervinho almost sealed qualification when, having rounded Weidenfeller he was robbed of a shooting chance by a last ditch Hummel challenge. The crucial goal came when there was no time for the Germans to respond, Vermaelen’s Bould header was met by van Persie standing alone in the six yard box. He soon found the company of his team-mates as Arsenal erased the ghosts of previous seasons to top the group.
Kagawa capitalised on Song’s dalliance at the wrong end of the pitch to snatch a very late consolation goal, the only blemish on an exemplary night in the Arsenal midfield. His performance reflected the growing maturity of his displays this season, stepping seamlessly into the experience void as a senior squad member. He is also proof to any player that overcoming detractors is as much a matter of hard work over time as self-belief. Who would have thought after that desperate night at Craven Cottage that he would be seen as pivotal member of the squad by his abusers.
A good evening for him, van Persie and all of Arsenal. Time to relax over Europe, tuck it away in the memory box with snug blankets until February and instead concentrate on domestic matters.
Posted on November 24, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 270 Comments.