Posted by Emi Michael
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.
Koscielny – 8
Gibbs – 6.5
Arteta – 6.5
Song – 6(first half), 8(2nd half
Benayoun – 6
Walcott – 6.5
Gervinho – 6
Van Persie – 7
Frimpong – N/A
Chamakh – N/A
Andre Santos – N/A
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