Arsenal 1 Borussia Dortmund 2: Three talking points

Arsenal 1 Borussia Dortmund 2: What lessons did we learn as Arsenal were brought back down to earth at Emirates Stadium?

Arsenal
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Dortmund
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Dortmund get their just reward

True, Arsenal were not at their best, but last season’s runners-up more-than played their part in north London as they put the squeeze on the Gunners on Tuesday night. The visitors got off to the far brighter start at Emirates Stadium and despite conjuring an equaliser, Arsenal were largely dominated by the Bundesliga side as their lively display prevented Arsene Wenger’s men from clicking into gear. Dortmund’s pressing game gave the Gunners scant time and space to piece together the sort of intricate play that the Frenchman’s side have been displaying in recent weeks. Arsenal had barely enjoyed a significant spell of possession before Dortmund took the lead in the 16th minute. Aaron Ramsey, who has earned so much praise for being one of the Gunners’ standout performers during their sparkling start to the season, was guilty of criminally dribbling into trouble on the edge of the Arsenal box, carelessly gifting Marco Reus possession. Reus found Robert Lewandowski and Henrikh Mkhitaryan took his shot early and caught Wojciech Szczęsny out. Even club-record signing Mesut Ozil was guilty of being caught in possession on a number of occasions. Despite Arsenal growing into the game following Olivier Giroud’s equaliser just before half-time, it was the visitors who were decisive when it counted as they took the lead again in the 82nd minute after a speedy counter-attack. Kevin Grosskreutz sped down the right wing, leaving Kieran Gibbs in his wake, and floated in a cross to the far post. With Bacary Sagna dragged inside, the unmarked Robert Lewandowski smashed home a volley to send the brilliant travelling fans into raptures. With Dortmund, Napoli and Arsenal all on six points, Group F is now wide open.

Arteta fills Flamini void

With Mathieu Flamini missing due to the concussion he suffered in the first half against Norwich on Saturday, it was left to Mikel Arteta to do the dirty work in front of the Arsenal rearguard – and the Spaniard stepped up. His combative attitude was summed up in the build-up to the Gunners’ opener on Tuesday, when Ozil won the ball back and found Arteta just inside his own half. Under pressure from two Dortmund players, the midfielder was just able to hold off the pressure and poke a pass back to the Germany international, who set the Gunners on their way to the attack which culminated in Giroud smashing in an equaliser just before half-time. He also made a number of crucial tackles after the break as the Gunners gradually grew into the game. He was, like many of his team-mates were too, guilty of being sloppy in possession at times – but Arteta deserves credit for a solid display in a position which so often goes unnoticed.

Classy Cazorla

Introduced on the hour-mark, Santi Cazorla showed just why Arsenal fans have been hankering for his return from the ankle injury which has kept him out since early September. With the Gunners struggling to click into gear, the Spanish playmaker injected some much-needed impetus into Arsenal’s attacks. The 28-year-old came within a whisker of firing the home side into the lead shortly after coming on when he curled a delicious shot at goal, only to be denied by the top corner of the woodwork. With Theo Walcott – whose pace Arsenal missed on Tuesday – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski still to return from injury, it will be interesting to see how Wenger chooses to deal with his plethora of midfield options in the testing weeks to come.

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