|MAN OF THE MATCH
Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal
For the second consecutive trip to Germany for a Champions League match, Arsenal emerged victorious. After this morning’s match, Arsenal have now beaten two of Bundesliga’s foremost teams. Bayern Munich’s only home record blemish came via Arsene Wenger’s side and Borussia Dortmund was the next to be slain.
Aaron Ramsey scored the solitary goal to in the second half to douse the spirit of the home fans. The fact that it was Arsenal’s first shot on goal in the entire game, only made it more incredible. The win wasn’t the only similarity between what happened in Munich and in the Ruhr Valley. Both wins were also recorded as wins with clean sheet.
The might of Dortmund in the attacking sense, is well known. Jurgen Klopp’s boys have scored 39 goals in 17 competitive matches that they have played thus far this season. Borussia Monchengladbach is the only other team besides Arsenal, to have managed to keep a clean sheet against the Champions League runners-up. However, Arsenal is the only team so far, to have done it at Westfalonstadion.
Ironically, a German will get the most praise out of a German defeat. Per Mertesacker was the lynchpin in Arsenal’s away win as he helped to ensure that Wojciech Szczesny didn’t have to pick the ball out of his net. The giant centre back won 2 tackles, blocked 1 shot and made 4 successful interceptions, while conceding zero fouls. The dangerous Robert Lewandoswki only managed 1 shot, the entire match. Testament to how well Arsenal played defensively.
Mertesacker has grown since he first arrived at Arsenal and I don’t mean physically. It’s the maturity in his game and the burgeoning influence he has on the team. Now, perhaps being the more senior member of the side, Mertesacker has emerged as a vocal member of the defence. There’s a lot more information and direction being passed around by the German and you will rarely any defender complaining about that.
Mertesacker will never be the quickest player on the pitch and against the attacking pace of a team like Dortmund, he rarely looked out of place. Neither Lewandowski nor Marco Reus were able to use their speed to beat their Nationalmannschaft team mate. Mertesacker uses his prowess in reading the game to ensure that he places himself consistently in good positions.
Mertesacker has struck up a very good partnership with Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Arsenal’s defence. While, Thomas Vermaelen is still officially the Arsenal captain, the Belgian will find it hard to get back into the playing side, given Mertesacker’s form. Especially not after the German excelled on his home soil.