Thursday, 24 November 2011

Arsenal qualify for knock out phase

Arsenal 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Arsenal became the first English side to qualify for the knock out phase of the Champions League last night with a 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund. That result coupled with Olympiacos’ win against Marseille means the Gunners will top the group regardless of the results in the next round of matches.

Dortmund, roused by their raucous supporters, began the match in positive fashion as they pressed Arsenal high up the pitch. This placed great pressure on the defence and in turn resulted in the midfield’s inability to maintain possession. Dortmund were excellent with the ball too, displaying short, fast, crisp passing as they mounted attack after attack. At this stage it was difficult to understand how this team had only managed to gain four points in the competition so far. However, and to Arsenal’s great relief, it soon became apparent that while their build up play is excellent, Dortmund’s finishing leaves much to be desired as Lewandowski and Kagawa both missed good opportunities. Arsenal’s best chance in the first half fell to Theo Walcott, after a wonderful through ball from Aaron Ramsey, however the Englishman could not round the Dortmund goalkeeper and the chance was lost.

The opening minutes of the second half again saw Dortmund create chances they failed to capitalize on and slowly but surely Arsenal began to impose themselves on the match. Crucially in the 49th minute the home side took the lead through that man again, Robin Van Persie. Much will be made of the fact the Dutchman scored once again last night, however this goal owed much to the endeavor of Alex Song, who was simply phenomenal last night. The Cameroonian covered every blade of grass, made tackle after tackle to win the ball back for the Gunners and produced one moment of absolute brilliance to set up Van Persie. Surrounded by three Dortmund players on the left flank, Song managed to power past one and then weave his way between the other two before clipping a perfect cross for Van Persie to nod Arsenal into the lead. The Gunners were now in control and should have been two goals up when Ramsey’s interception released Gervinho. However rather than take an early shot, the Ivorian sold the goalkeeper a dummy, but at the same time allowed Mats Hummel to recover and steal the ball off his toe.

In the 86th minute, Arsenal sealed their place in the knock out round as Mikel Arteta’s corner was flicked on, at the near post by Vermaelen, for Van Persie to fire into an empty net. At the other end Szczesny was disappointed not to keep a clean sheet as Dortmund grabbed a consolation goal with virtually the last kick of the game, through Kagawa.

Arsenal’s achievement in qualifying from hardly the easiest Champions League group should not be underestimated. While the fate of the other English sides in the competition still hangs in the balance the Gunners can now concentrate on the league and rest players in the final game against Olympiacos. Qualification also adds to the renewed sense of optimism around the Emirates Stadium, hopefully the recent run of fine form will continue against Fulham on Saturday.


  1. It`s a great blog! Keep up the good work frankie :)

  2. Very interesting blog - keep up the good work! - Richard