After the disappointing defeat to last season’s Champions League finalists, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger described the team’s performance as ‘naïve’ – the Gunners went 1-0 down only to recover an equaliser but, in chasing a victory, they left too much room in behind for Dortmund to exploit in the late stages of the game.
It was very close encounter at the Emirates and one in which Arsenal can and should be proud of – for the majority of the game they stood up well to the Germans who currently sit ahead of European champions Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
However, a draw at home to Dortmund would have seen Arsenal and the visitors top the table with seven points apiece, leaving Napoli a point behind in third place. Now it’s a three horse race for qualification to progress through to the knockouts and Arsenal ideally need to take something from the game on Wednesday night.
It’s not an ideal situation but, alas, it could be much worse – the Gunners have beaten two out of three of their group and looked assured and organised against Napoli who remain one of the top teams in Serie A.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t really have much flexibility in his system with Arsenal and playing for the draw doesn’t often enter his vocabulary – even in games where Arsenal were getting thrashed (remember the 8-2 at Old Trafford) Wenger resisted any urge to shut up shop, park the bus and see the game out without conceding any more.
Wenger’s philosophy is about outplaying, outclassing, and out running the opposition over 90 minutes – the superior quality and fitness levels of the Invincibles was the perfect demonstration of that philosophy working at its best. But Arsenal are depleted in number with injuries to a collection of stars and key players and with a game against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday in the Premier League, fatigue could start to creep in.
Arsenal were one of only three teams to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena last term – they very nearly did the impossible to win the tie – and there’s no doubt they have enough quality and players in form to do damage to Dortmund this week but, if they game starts to play out as a draw as it looked to be at the Emirates, should the Gunners have what they hold, take a point from the game and put their energy into Sunday’s game safe in the knowledge they have Napoli and Marseille games to pick up the points they need to qualify?
image: © wonker