The fantastic start Arsenal have had in the league has been helped by a very soft schedule, and now it’s been proven that some stiffer competition from a team that might be superior makes Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil look a little less wonderful than all the praises they’ve been getting over the last month or so.
It’s hard to say that Dortmund actually deserved to win 2-1. They were pinned back to their own half for about 45 minutes, but counter attacking teams are built to withstand that kind of pressure, and Arsenal didn’t play well enough to deserve some outright victory. They controlled the match, but didn’t create enough chances in the second half, with Santi Cazrola sending a shot from outside the box to the crossbar being the best of them.
The match pretty much fell on two mistakes – two turnovers, one in each half, that resulted in the two goals they conceded. The first was a terrible decision by Aaron Ramsey to dribble the ball under pressure near his own box, resulting in a steal and a Henrikh Mkhitaryan goal, and the other happened further away from goal, but Arsenal didn’t get back to defense on time, as Robert Lewandowski had no one marking him to connect with Kevin Grosskreutz’ cross and stun the Emirates.
Lewandowski probably shouldn’t have been on the pitch, hitting Laurent Koscielny with an elbow that called for a red card, not just a yellow, but this isn’t the first time Lewandowski has gotten away with causing some deliberate pain, like he did by stepping on David Alaba in the Champions League final.
Arsenal couldn’t play as well as it did because Dortmund aren’t Norwich (even though the coloring can be confusing), and Dortmund’s excellent job of taking Aaron Ramsey out of the match. Mesut Ozil played on the right wing and was the most dangerous man for Arsenal, but even though he almost always managed to beat the first man marking him, he had trouble finding open men in dangerous positions to follow through.
Dortmund made it so that Mikel Arteta and Laurent Koscielny were the ones pushing Arsenal forward and enjoying the majority of possession, while the Ramsey-Wilshere-Cazorla trio was left well guarded and quite ineffective for most of the match. What works against the minnows of the Premier League apparently isn’t too easy to execute facing the Champions League finalists from last season and the joint league leaders in the Bundesliga.
This isn’t the cause for panic. It’s just a warning sign, that Arsenal might not be as good as advertised. In a match that could have gone here or there, the problem of having just one striker to rely on becomes more and more evident – Nicklas Bendtner simply isn’t the answer; probably never has been, despite Wenger refusing to give up on the Danish player. Losing to such a strong German side at home isn’t the end of the world, but it just goes to prove how important Mathieu Flamini is to this team, and how by adding someone like Mesut Ozil not all the problems have been solved.