Ruhr draw suits Arsenal fine

Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Arsenal

For some reason, it had not dawned on me how tough our Champions League group would be until last night. Maybe it was all the other stuff going on – I simply hadn’t thought much about it. Maybe it was years of sailing through this part of the competition (though we made a meal of it last time round).

Perhaps it was in anticipation of this that Wenger gave one of his most candid interviews about how realistic our ambitions could be this year. “It’s too early to speak about winning it,” he said. “Saying that would raise a lot of scepticism about the team at the moment and I don’t think any one would believe it.”

He’s right of course; ours is a much-changed team, riding (what we can hope is the tail of) a miserable, sticky run of very bad form, and with the riches available to four or five other European teams, winning this competition is a tall order indeed.

You could argue Wenger is trying to cushion himself against a fall but personally, I’m glad he’s being a bit more honest about our chances these days. It’s clear domestically that it is harder than it ever has been to compete with oligarchs, and that applies in Europe too, but with bells on given the addition of two teams who negotiate their own TV rights to the tune of €140m a year. I look back at 2006 now, when we were the width of a whisker away from winning it, and appreciate more than ever what an achievement that was.

Last night was another small step away from the nadir of Old Trafford. The late equaliser may have chafed a bit at the time but the result was an excellent one (and it was a humdinger of a strike, too). Resilient in defence, with Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny and the returning Song standing out, we stood our ground well. This, as they say, is more like it. Stubbornness, sticking together, fighting for everything – these should be givens at Arsenal. It’s a relief to see some of that spirit coming back, bit by bit, game by game, and there was no better place to show it than at the home of the German champions.

Weak going forward? We have not looked dynamic or ruthless enough in that department for a while. But Dortmund away, against a very good defence, was probably not the place to go all Harlem Globetrotters on us. van Persie’s goal was a lovely sucker punch, set up well by Theo and finished sweetly.

Two games unbeaten! I think I need to sit down.

Finally, a word about Dortmund. Huge crowd, affordable tickets, incredible atmosphere. Standing at Dortmund costs €14.90 – or €219 for a season. The cheapest season ticket at Arsenal costs £951 (€1,099). Even allowing for standing being a cheaper option, and for Arsenal giving us 7 cup games for that price (where Dortmund might not include that – but I don’t know), the difference in prices is embarrassing.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Tim Merrick

    Nice review and yes those qualities should indeed be givens at Arsenal. If they are (and it is beginning to look that way) this team might make up in heart what it lacks in quality. I prefer to see us playing flowing football, but a few months of grit is just what the doctor ordered. Bundesliga remains true to it’s roots with ticket prices, outrageous gap in pricing and atmosphere…surely not a coincidence.

    Alex Song was my man of the match, for that second half alone. Clean tackles Alex….lovely!!

  2. East Lower

    You could argue that the ‘Barcelona Lite’ model never worked anyway… a tweaking of the way we play on that basis is overdue.

  3. Jeff

    Thumbs up.

  4. Anonymous

    Positives :
    Song was superb. As was Chesney. And Sagna not far off. Koscielny does the last-gasp thing very well but positionally he was awful in first 20 & could easily have cost us 2 goals. Needs to shape up in that respect but to be fair there’s no denying his desire. Mertesacker just does not panic at all which is good to see.
    Negatives :
    Theo & Gervinho were both woeful. And given neither made any attempt to help their full-back at all, the emphasis was on them to provide attacking thrust. Terrible stuff. Theo (goal apart) did nothing & Gervinho ran into trouble at every single oppurtunity. Lift your head up man for God sake !

  5. Sajit Kunnumkal

    I just fear for the number of chances created per match. But hey, all those chances created by Fab nad Nasri never won us any titles.. So maybe this is a change.

  6. Sajit Kunnumkal

    I just fear for the number of chances created per match. But hey, all those chances created by Fab nad Nasri never won us any titles.. So maybe this is a change.

  7. Jeff

    Poor team defending today. 4-3. Oh brother.

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