After what seemed to be ages, Arsenal finally managed to keep a clean sheet, and surprisingly did not let the lead in a game slip to gift the points away to the opposition. A 2nd minute goal from Yaya Sanogo certainly helped matters in terms of playing more defensively, but even the players seemed up to the task with almost everyone having a much better game than the usual horror show it has been for the last few games.
Though Borussia Dortmund pressed hard, harried and harassed the Arsenal players, the Gunners managed to hold on, and following a scorcher of a goal from Alexis Sanchez went ahead by 2 goals. But you could tell that none of the fans in the stadium or the ones watching at home were entirely convinced that this was going to be an easy win. For that, Damien Martinez and Kieran Gibbs were to be thanked. While the rest of the backline did a solid job, the ones that really caught the eye were Martinez and Gibbs, with the Left Back the more involved in clearing the ball at the back.
And it wasn’t just the goals and the defence that made the day for Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had another fantastic game and would have had a goal of the season contender if it wasn’t for the post. Even Santi Cazorla had a far better game than what his displays have been so far this season.
Dortmund will definitely go back dejected, not having beaten an Arsenal side that were down in the dumps. With Champions League not offering the solace they may have been looking for, they will go back to league competition hoping to turn around their own fortunes.
Arsenal, however, had a bit of bad news on the night, with Mikel Arteta injuring himself in the 65th minute in what looks to be a serious injury. Arsene later said, “That doesn’t look good, it’s the calf. It’s very difficult to take on the chin because we are going into many games and you need everybody available, but I think Arteta will be out for a while.”
But on the whole, Arsene Wenger was happy with the way his team performed, and also for the fact that the club qualified for the knockout stage for the 16th time in a row. He said, “When you work in a football club you realise its not easy to have a continuity and to be consistent but we are, and I am very proud of that.
I think the club deserves a lot of credit for that. Its not enough though because we want more than that.”
He had particular praise for Yaya Sanogo, who finally opened his account for Arsenal. “I think he played well tonight, he protected the ball well, won many challenges. He is a young boy, he has presence and character and his naturally committed and is naturally aggressive up front and that is vital.”
Dortmund manager Juergen Klopp conceded that Arsenal were deserved winners. He said, “rsenal were the deserved winners tonight, there are 1,000 reasons why we weren’t good enough, and we need to start working hard to get the results.”
When Arsene Wenger was asked what Arsenal need to do to go further in the competition, he jokingly said they probably needed to send someone else to the draw. “First to send a different guy for the draw because if you look at the last five or six years we got the teams you did not want.
“But from now until February we need to improve as a team, and take encouragement from tonight’s game and hope we have nearly all our players back in the next round.”
But if it isn’t Bayern Munich or Barcelona, Arsenal fans would certainly be a surprised lot!