Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt, including Danny Welbeck must be more clinical and Hector Bellerin debut

Analysis from the Gunners' 2-0 defeat in Germany

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The Independent Online

1. Bellerin is not backward in coming forward…

Most 19-year-olds making their Champions League debut in such an intimidating arena might have been timid enough to keep things conservative and simple but Arsène Wenger encourages his Arsenal full-backs to push on and Hector Bellerin did just that. After a few understandably nervous touches early on, Bellerin used his blistering pace to get forward whenever Dortmund’s dominance briefly subsided, although he was caught out of position on more than one occasion, forcing Per Mertesacker to rescue the situation with a last-ditch tackle. However, those errors are forgivable considering his inexperience – it is the club’s collective failing that he was prematurely exposed to such high-level opposition.

2. …but is that a tactical failing on Wenger’s part?

This was another occasion when the direction to Arsenal’s full-backs to operate with a starting position so high up the pitch was merely inviting trouble. The Gunners won 1-0 here last year with a resolute defensive display founded on rigid discipline and they only fell behind here when caught high up the pitch by a counter-attack. When Arsenal concede possession in such circumstances, they are often badly exposed and the problems created by Mikel Arteta’s lack of pace are exacerbated.

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Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal

 

3. Arsenal need a bona fide holding midfielder

It is not exactly a revelation for seasoned Arsenal observers to conclude they lack a resilient presence capable of shielding the back four. Arteta deserves credit for adapting his game to the best of his ability since joining the club in 2011 but he has always felt like a stopgap solution. He was caught high up the field for Dortmund’s first goal and then was part of a midfield that failed to track Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the second. This was yet another night when the balance in Wenger’s team felt top-heavy. There is a reason why he is yet to be offered a new contract.

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Pierre Emmerick Aubameyang scores his goal against Arsenal

 

4. Welbeck has to be more clinical in front of goal

Arsenal carved out two clear opportunities for Danny Welbeck and the £16m man’s finishing was so inept that one effort was off target and the other did not even register with Uefa statisticians as an attempt on goal. Manchester United’s manager, Louis van Gaal, was damning in his analysis of the 23-year-old’s goal record and on nights like this when chances are all too rare – he missed a third after the interval – Welbeck needs to develop a ruthless streak if he is to banish doubts about his ability at the highest level. The same can be said of Olivier Giroud, ironically, and Welbeck must prove himself a conclusive upgrade.

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Danny Welbeck of Arsenal holds off the challenge from Sokratis Papastathopoulos

 

5. Özil’s place could be under threat in new line-up

There has been a slight tactical shift in Arsenal’s formation this season from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1, which can quickly open out into 4-3-3. One of the consequences is Mesut Özil can no longer operate in his favoured No 10 position and has been shunted out to the flanks and although he has played on the left and the right for Germany, he is most comfortable and effective through the middle.

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