A goal from in-form Welshman Aaron Ramsey helped Arsenal seal a vital three points at Dortmund. It was tough ask for the side that have failed to stand up to their previous perceived ‘tests’ against Dortmund and Chelsea at the Emirates, with them both leaving with victory in a fairly easy fashion. The stage was set for a cracking encounter. The Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp, had set it himself personally by suggesting Arsene Wenger deserves a knighthood. Mind games it seemed from the charismatic German, who admitted the only way Arsenal would win was if Dortmund ‘let them’.
The first half was something of a slow burner as both sides struggled to gain a foothold on the game. It was the hosts who had the better of it. Neven Subotic struck an early shot wide from a free kick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted an opportunity by firing wide after having the freedom of Dortmund to find the net at Arsenal’s expense. The halftime whistle was something of relief for Arsenal. They had weathered part of the storm, although they had failed to deliver anything in an attacking sense. They were keeping a Dortmund side on red-hot form at bay.
Early in the second half it seemed likely that a Dortmund goal would arrive. Wojciech Szczesny saved a Marco Reus header and then the former Gladbach player had it in the net, although it was ruled offside. Dortmund’s luck clearly wasn’t in and that was displayed as Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored only for the linesman to put his flag up, although the Armenian knew it was coming as he reacted in a subdued manner.
Against the run of play, Arsenal took the lead. Mesut Ozil, who had failed to sparkle all evening, provided the cross for Aaron Ramsey to finish. Arsenal had the lead, a slender one at that, but it was a lead. It was hearts in mouths time for Arsenal moments later as Dortmund almost had themselves on level terms. Robert Lewandowski was almost met emphatically by Marco Reus, but it flashed away for an Arsenal goal kick.
Ramsey almost had himself another soon after, but Roman Weidenfeller was on hand to thwart the Welshman. Dortmund struggled to score against Arsenal in the dying embers and a penalty shout on Robert Lewandowski by Per Mertesacker was the best they conjured up. Speaking after the game, Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, made it clear he wanted to see a repeat on Sunday at Old Trafford:
“It strengthens the belief of my team that we can put another great performance in another massive game on Sunday. We want this kind of performance again.”
Currently on his richest vein of form since he signed for Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey is an early contender for PFA Player of the Year. Another positive performance on Sunday would be encouraging for Arsenal’s title challenge and it may even convince a few more pundits to back the London club in their pursuit of their first Premier League title since 2004. A buoyant Aaron Ramsey told the Daily Mirror of his delight after scoring the decisive winner:
“I’m enjoying myself at the moment and everything seems to be going in. I’m delighted with the way I’m playing and the goals I’m scoring but it was a great team effort and we are delighted with that.”
Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp, talked up Arsenal following defeat: “They could win it - as long as they don’t play Bayern Munich,” he said. He continued to heap praise on Arsenal: “They are young, healthy and good technicians. They won a clever game tonight.”
Arsenal now face Marseille safe in the knowledge that their task to qualify has been made a lot easier with a result that not many expected. Meanwhile, Dortmund face Napoli in the next round of games hoping they can find their return to winning ways after a frustrating evening.