First Champions League match out of the way then. Draw was the final result and it was a fair reflection on the game. Both sides went about with their usual tactics but the home side had the upper hand of things in most parts. Like I said yesterday, I would take a draw if it was given to me. Hence, it was an acceptable result.
Let’s put the two slightly negative aspects out of the way, as I prefer to focus on the positive side on things on the back of that result. There were chances for us to add more goals but overall we seemed to still be lacking that attacking verve that has been our mantra for so many years.
Our passing were also not up to mark. Lots of them were astray, either straight to the opposition or out to the touchline. Almost everyone to the man was culpable of making mistakes in their passing. Of course, credit to Dortmund that they were able to pressure our players into making the mistakes.
That apart, I was proud of the team yesterday. They fought with what they had and what was in front of them. Dortmund played like the team that stormed through the Bundesliga last season rather than the team that has struggled thus far this season. It meant a lot more defending duty for us and the team did not fail.
Wojciech Szczesny was once again superb in goal. He did not have much to do, despite the home side controlling large parts of the match. But when he was called upon, he delivered. The one-on-one with Lewandowski and the save from the melee after a corner saved us the point. It feel so much better to finally found a keeper who can individually contribute to us getting points. He could do nothing with Ivan Perisic’s goal though. Another one of those “wonder goals” that always seem to team up with the opposition.
That the Polish keeper had less to do, was down to the players in front of him. Per Mertesacker provided the aerial support and cleared most of the high balls that came into our penalty box. Bacary Sagna was his usual rock solid self. The always impressive Kevin Grosskreutz was reduced to a mere passenger in the game. While Kieran Gibbs was much more aware of his surrounding and rarely let his opponent out of his sight.
However, the real hero of the night was Laurent Koscielny. Whatever you may think of his deficiency in the English game (heading and physical), he’s a real monster in the European game. As was obvious in the match against Barcelona last season, Koscielny really comes to the fore against more cultured opponent of the game. Granted he was also at fault for some of the misplaced passes but no fault could be attributed to him in terms of defending. Read the game well, never rash in tackling and generally prevented Dortmund from even getting into the penalty box.
The second star of the night belongs to Alex Song. Fresh from his 3 match suspension, he formed the bedrock for our defensive solidarity last night. Something Emmanuel Frimpong can learn from Song is the ability to make tackles without actually committing a foul. Every tackle was won cleanly. It makes such a difference when Song decides and was tasked to sit in front of the defence and doesn’t roam about.
A quick word about the goal we scored. Started by Robin Van Persie sliding in to intercept a ball. Then Theo Walcott cut inside and put RvP through with a left footed slide rule pass. The captain then finish with aplomb with his right foot. So many strange things from that move that I don’t know where to start. That said, good to see when players doesn’t slow down any move by preferring to get back on his stronger foot.
Gervinho’s return was also good to see. He provided the dribbling option and can be seen sometimes interchanging positions with RvP. The one thing he can probably learn from this game was that he needs to learn to mix things up. It’s good to dribble and all but opposition picks up on this and puts more player to crowd him out. That is when a pass to a team mate is a better option instead of continuing to dribble further. Several times I saw Mikel Arteta has his hands up in frustration when the pass was not made.
Mentioned this before, this was the toughest test of the group out of the way. 1-1 is not a shabby result by any means. Not taking them lightly but the rest of the group games will not be as tough as this one. The point will help us towards our chances of advancing past this group stage.
Have a safe journey back Arsenal. Next up Blackburn.