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Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Arsenal Post Match + Player Ratings

Arsenal put in a below standard un-arsenal like performance in holding out for a 1-1 at Borussia Dortmund in a Group F match as the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League got under way. The game looked a done deal after RVP had given us a first half lead after collecting a pass from Walcott only for Perisic to level things with a superb volley just at the death.

Olympique Marseille lead the group after a lone goal from Argentine midfielder Lucho Gonzalez earned the French side the win at Greece’s Olympiacos.

At Germany, the reigning Bundesliga champions began the match on a high tempo and were only denied the lead early on by Alex Song when Lewandowsky rounded keeper Wojciech Szczesny only to see his effort cleared off the line by Song. This was after Gervinho had fluffed his lines terribly in front of goal.

Mario Götze then saw a shot go just wide of goal while Kagawa was generally wasteful in front of goal along with being caught offside on occasions as Dortmund continued to press Arsenal with the backing of a vociferous crowd at the Signal Iduna.

That crowd was however silenced three minutes from half time when captain Robin van Persie won the ball off Sebastien Kehl, got through on goal off a one-two with Theo Walcott and found the net with a right foot shot. It was the least Arsenal deserved going into the break.

The Gunners came close to extending that lead early in the second half with Ivorian forward Gervinho going past two Dortmund players only to be thwarted by the home side’s keeper. The ascendy returned to Dortmund afterwards with Arsenal settling to keeping hold of the lead and soaking whatever their hosts had in store. Walcott was taken off for Emmanuel Frimpong too as proof of Arsenal’s intent to hold out for the lone goal win.

With two minutes left however, Ivan Perisic was first to Kieran Gibbs’ clearance and equalised for Dortmund with a volley that Szczesny had no chance of keeping out. That goal encouraged Dortmund to go for the win outright and it almost came in stoppage time when Neven Subotic found himself unmarked four yards out, but the Serbian defender saw his poked effort saved by Szczesny.

In all, some long lost character is starting to rear up in the Arsenal defense with Koscielny and Mertesacker impressing while Yossi Benayoun gave a good account of himself on his full debut, doing well to set up a chance for van Persie in the first half. Bacary Sagna also impressed as did Szczeny. All that’s left is for the midfield and attack to attain a good understanding and not have the defense enduring such pressure as it had to withstand on the night.

Away from matters on the pitch, 20 year old midfielder Henri Lansbury has signed a contract extension with the club to cap a good year for him. This comes right after scoring over the weekend in a 4-3 win for West Ham United where he is on a season long loan.

RATINGS

Szczesny7.5

Sagna 6.5

Mertesacker 7

Koscielny8

Gibbs6.5

Arteta6.5

Song6(first half), 8(2nd half

Benayoun6

Walcott6.5

Gervinho6

Van Persie7

SUBSTITUTES

FrimpongN/A

ChamakhN/A

Andre SantosN/A

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Match Preview: German Champions Dortmund Host Arsenal as Champions League Begins

Tomas Rosicky will not feature for Arsenal when the Gunners make a trip to Germany to face his old club Borussia Dortmund as this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage kicks-off tonight across Europe.

The Czech midfielder is still struggling with a knee injury and is joined on the cold table of the Arsenal medics by Wales captain Aaron Ramsey who will miss the encounter with an ankle injury picked up in training on Monday.

And other than long term injury casualties Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen, manager Arsène Wenger has virtually the whole squad available for selection with Gervinho and Alex Song back from three-match suspensions each, the third served in Saturday’s win over Swansea City.

Hence, Gervinho’s return will likely see one of Andrey Arshavin (preferably) and Theo Walcott start from the bench just as Aaron Ramsey’s absence allows for Alex Song to have a starting shirt along with Emmanuel Frimpong to complete the midfield that will be anchored by Mikel Arteta.

Per Mertesacker will keep his place partnering Laurent Koscielny at the heart of defense while Kieran Gibbs looks the likely bet to start, unless André Santos has attained match fitness in order to stake a claim for a starting shirt. The other new players, Park Chu Young and Yossi Benayoun will settle for places on the bench.

Arsenal go to Dortmund’s 80,000 capacity Signal Iduna Park hoping a repeat of the 2-1 loss in our only previous visit doesn’t re-occur. In other visits to Germany, the Gunners lost 3-1 to Bayern Munich in a first knock-out round first leg encounter in 2005 but won 3-1 at S. V. Hamburg where club legend Thierry Henry scored a brace, including a landmark goal.

The Group F match kicks off at 19:45 with Dortmund coming into the game on the back of a 2-1 loss inflicted by Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Despite that, the reigning Bundesliga champions remain a strong opposition for the Gunners with the likes of Serbian defender Neven Subotic and rumoured Arsenal target Mario Götze in the side.

Olympiacos Piraeus and Olympique Marseille will meet in the group’s other match.

Let’s go Gunners!!!