It’s not just the goal that Aaron Ramsey scored in the second half that helped Arsenal come away with a slightly surprising 1-0 win over Dortmund in Germany. His goal sparked some belief in the side that they’re actually capable of attacking, making Dortmund feel quite uncomfortable in their own home, and not doing much after going down except wish for the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, to give them a penalty kick.
In truth, the Dutch ref did make a mistake. Per Mertesacker, having a fantastic day along with Laurent Koscielny, pulled Robert Lewandowski down by the shoulders in a pretty obvious way. The referee had good line of sight to the incident, and still decided not to be the one who decides the match so late in it, making a big mistake at Dortmund’s expense.
A tale of two halves, as Dortmund completely controlled the first 45 minutes, but couldn’t get great chances in them, except for one big miss from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Wojciech Szczesny was obviously the busier of the two goalkeepers, but he didn’t have to make that many incredible saves: Just two, carrying on with his excellent form this season, taking it from the win over Liverpool, through a win over Dortmund and onto playing against Manchester United, so far keeping a clean sheet.
What changed for Arsenal? Confidence, and Aaron Ramsey. The goal he scored was mainly thanks to his power and poise when pushing into the box and Olivier Giroud, who managed to put the right header on a bad cross from Mesut Ozil. Giroud struggled all match long in creating chances as pivot, being too alone and too far away from his teammates, but the confidence boost brought more players closer to the Dortmund box, creating more and more chances.
Arsenal need to get over the one-pass thing sometimes. During the first half, it simply hastened their turnover rate, because there was no attempt at trying something else, giving up the ball to Dortmund again and again. The second half, when players were a bit closer to each other, it made sense playing that way, as Dortmund slipped out of their rigid shape and allowed more space for Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla to receive and create.
A win over Dortmund, in Germany, throws the group into a weird flux, putting Arsenal and Napoli at the head of the table with 9 points, while the early favorites to finish first, Dortmund, are third, three points behind. There’s still some time to change and wait for stumbles, but Dortmund once again find themselves in a complicated group situation, just like two years ago.
More than their Champions League position, Arsenal simply look like a team that’s finally ready to challenge for titles. Maybe not the Champions League; it’s still too soon. But in the Premier League? If two months of leading the table aren’t enough, a win over the Champions League finalists and maybe the team in the best form in Europe should be the final nail in the coffin of the doubts some people have about their title credentials.