Borussia Dortmund 0 Arsenal 1 match report: Top Guns show true quality in a victory to silence doubters

Aaron Ramsey scores only goal of the game to keep Gunners top of Champions League Group F

the westfalenstadion

Those desperate to pour scorn on Arsenal’s early-season promise are running out of reasons to maintain their scepticism. This win in Dortmund tops anything the Gunners have achieved in reaching the summit of both a formative Premier League table and Champions League Group F, and was realised with a display of resilience, diligence and a touch of fortune – all of which had appeared beyond Arsène Wenger’s side in recent times.

Per Mertesacker excelled at the heart of Arsenal’s defence, Mikel Arteta marshalled the midfield, flirting with a red card in the process, and Aaron Ramsey continued his astonishing improvement by scoring the winning goal, his 11th of the season.

No longer can it be levelled at Arsenal that their fine run of form away from home, now extended to 15 games, is bereft of a notable scalp; the victory against Bayern Munich that set things off in March was ultimately futile, given their exit from the competition on away goals.

Dortmund may have lost Mario Götze, with Robert Lewandowski apparently confirming in the build-up to this match that he would follow the playmaker to Bayern, but their pedigree evidenced in reaching last season’s Champions League final is undiminished. The Bundesliga side had won every home game this season and were seeking their eighth successive win in this competition in front of their own fans but Arsenal became the first English side to win here in 11 attempts, to the delight of the 3,300 travelling support.

Of course, the job is not done. Arsenal still require positive results against Marseilles at home and Napoli away in their final two matches. Just as in the Premier League, their ability to maintain their present pre-eminence is uncertain. But it felt like a significant moment in the evolution of this side, strengthening their resolve and self-belief for the challenges ahead, starting with Sunday’s trip to Manchester United.

Both sides began tentatively in an opening spell punctuated by a series of misplaced passes perhaps explicable by a mixture of the sense of occasion and the slippery surface which became the product of the rain swirling around this magnificent stadium.

Mesut Ozil celebrates with goalscorer Aaron Ramsey (Getty) Mesut Ozil celebrates with goalscorer Aaron Ramsey (Getty)
Mutual respect also contributed to the cautious early tempo, with Arsenal’s line-up unchanged from Saturday’s Premier League win over Liverpool and Dortmund forced into a solitary change from the team that won the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos replacing Mats Hummels at centre-back.

Backed by fervent and ceaseless noise from Dortmund’s Südtribüne support, the home side looked more threatening, having appeared to target Kieran Gibbs, who shook off a hip problem to start the match, with right-back Kevin Grosskreutz scampering forward at every available opportunity.

Wenger lamented his side’s naivety in their zeal to win the first meeting but here they prioritised caution and containment in a bid to establish a foothold in the match.

Mertesacker was called into action in the fourth minute after Lewandowski turned smartly in the box but the Gunners defender snuffed out the threat as Dortmund laboured to find their rhythm.

Arteta conceded a 17th-minute free-kick, which Marco Reus swung over to the back post, where Sven Bender forced the ball towards Neven Subotic, but the centre-back could only hook his volley tamely wide.

Robert Lewandowski goes down late in the game but no penalty is awarded (Getty) Robert Lewandowski goes down late in the game but no penalty is awarded (Getty)
Jakub Blaszczykowski and Grosskreutz began to make inroads against Gibbs, forcing Laurent Koscielny into another smart interception but the Gunners stuck to their task well; the cynical shirt-pull on Blaszczykowski that earned Arteta a yellow card exemplified the visitors’ desire to stifle at all costs.

Reus inexplicably escaped a caution from Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers for hauling down Tomas Rosicky but it was rare evidence of Arsenal as an attacking threat in the opening period.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted the most presentable chance of the first 45 minutes, when opting to place a left-footed effort past Wojciech Szczesny from just inside the box only to send the ball wide.

Uefa’s half-time statistics revealed the visitors registered 54 per cent possession but the lion’s share came in defensive areas, with Arsenal keen to sit deep to nullify Dortmund’s threat on the counter-attack.

Jürgen Klopp’s side upped the tempo after the interval. Reus’s header from Bender’s cross skipped off the soaked pitch, forcing Szczesny to turn it behind. From the resulting corner, Mkhitaryan fired over from 25 yards.

Dortmund went a step closer moments later as Reus turned the ball into the net after Szczesny could only parry Blaszczykowski’s drive from the edge of the box but the flag was rightly raised for offside.

Jurgen Klopp and his players can't believe the outcome (Getty) Jurgen Klopp and his players can't believe the outcome (Getty)
The home support was roused and the pressure on Arsenal intensified. Arteta had another nibble at Lewandowski, Marcel Schmelzer had another goal disallowed: the portents were decidedly ominous. And yet, suddenly, having been almost non-existent as an attacking entity, Arsenal took the lead.

Mesut Ozil, who had barely touched the ball to that point, clipped a cross into the box and Olivier Giroud strained every sinew to win the header and find the onrushing Ramsey. The Welshman converted from close range to give the Gunners an improbable lead.

The tactical shackles then came off in the adrenalin rush. Giroud crossed from the left and Ramsey chested the ball down before firing a right-foot shot that Roman Weidenfeller fortuitously turned behind for a corner.

Mertesacker headed Santi Cazorla’s free-kick onto the roof of the net as Dortmund staggered, punch-drunk. It is testament to Arsenal’s professionalism that they were unable to recover.

* Gonzalo Higuain scored twice to keep Napoli level on points with leaders Arsenal as they overcame Marseilles 3-2. Gokhan Inler scored the opening goal for the hosts, with Andre Ayew and Florian Thauvin replying for the French side.

Results so far

Marseilles 1-2 Arsenal, Napoli 2-1 Borussia Dortmund; Arsenal 2-0 Napoli, Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Marseilles; Arsenal 1-2 Borussia Dortmund, Marseilles 1-2 Napoli; Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal, Napoli 3-2 Marseilles.  

Remaining fixtures 

26 Nov Arsenal v Marseilles, Borussia Dortmund v Napoli. 11 Dec Marseilles v Borussia Dortmund, Napoli v Arsenal.

Man of match Mertesacker.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee B Kuipers (Neth). 

Attendance 65,829.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor