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Borussia Dortmund 2 - 0 Arsenal: Match Report

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Not a good start to the Champions League, today.

Martin Rose


1 - 0 Ciro Immobile 45'
2 - 0 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 48'

Arsenal emerged today 2-0 losers from a typically raucous Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. From the beginning of the match, the Gunners were comprehensively outplayed in every possible respect. The midfield was overrun and had trouble stringing passes together. The attack was isolated. The defense was shaky, and but for the efforts of Wojciech Szczesny and some poor finishing by BvB, Arsenal would have been in a deep hole very early. As it was, last-ditch efforts from Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker kept things level for the first 40 minutes, but the signs were there--the Germans had 13 shots to Arsenal's zero, and they dominated possession, tackling, interceptions, passing, workrate.

That the opening goal came so late in the first half was the only real surprise; although the manner in which it came would normally be stunning, in the context of the half, it wasn't all that surprising. Arsenal had a throw-in deep in BvB's half, but threw it straight to the men in yellow, somehow, and Ciro Immobile, taking possession 60 yards from Arsenal's goal, proceeded to run unhindered the entire distance. Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs sort of canceled each other out before a weird touch saw the Italian find enough space to shoot, and he made no mistake. It was a killer blow just before halftime.

The Gunners didn't emerge looking much better in the second half. The same problems persisted, and it didn't take long for Dortmund to pick up possession in the middle of the pitch, move forward, and find a pass past the retreating Per Mertesacker into the space behind Koscielny, Aubameyang dribbling around Szczesny to slot home.

More chances came BvB's way despite Arsenal subbing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla. Henrikh Mkhitaryan should've scored after receiving a pass beyond a completely stationery and basically uninterested Mikel Arteta, but he blazed over the bar. Ox looked to have some spark and interplay with Alexis Sanchez, but they couldn't fashion any good chances. Bringing on Lukas Podolski for Arteta late in the match was a final roll of the dice, but the rust was too thick, and he had to borrow Mesut Özil's shinpads--it was that kind of day.

Assigning blame to any one player in this match isn't necessary. The team's shape wasn't right, all eleven players lacked any kind of intensity, the passing was too slow, and nobody was having a good time. Players weren't showing for passes, BvB pressed very well the entire match (they are a good team, despite their injury woes today--let's not forget that). Had one said that Arsenal would lose away in Germany before the group stage started, one wouldn't be laughed at, but the result aside, there is a lot about this performance to arouse concern.

Arsenal should be much better than today's showing going forward, but they need to put up a collective effort that hasn't been on display so far this season.

At least the defensive injuries really can't be blamed for this one.