Arsenal: Martinez, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Alexis, Sanogo
Subs: Huddart, Koscielny, Bellerin, Rosicky, Flamini, Podolski, Campbell
Arsenal secured their place in the knock-out stages of the Champions League with a much improved performance and a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates this evening.
Despite being back in the squad, Laurent Koscielny remained on the bench as Nacho Monreal continued at centre-half, while Yaya Sanogo was recalled to first team action to replace Danny Welbeck who was ruled out with injury. That left Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell on the bench.
If the selection of the former Auxerre man raised eyebrows, they were raised even further when he scored the game’s opening goal after just 72 seconds. Santi Cazorla stabbed it to the Frenchman who beat the offside flag despite the fact he appeared to be offside, he then poked it through the keeper’s legs for his first ever Arsenal goal. 1-0.
In the 9th minute he had a great chance to double his Arsenal tally when sent clean through on goal but seemed indecisive and rather than shoot he cut inside and was robbed of the ball.
The two sides traded bookings with Subotic and Arteta picking up yellow cards before the 15 minute mark, before the visitors created their most dangerous moment of the game to that point. Piszczek flashed in a cross from the right hand side, the ball skidded across the Arsenal 6 yard box and Immobile, at the back post, just failed to make contact.
Another good Dortmund move saw Mkhitaryan shoot over the bar as the momentum swung in their favour a little, but the game had settled into a back and forth of possession without either team making anything really clear-cut.
Arsenal did play some nice combination football at times, Sanogo holding the ball up well when it came to him and bringing others into play. Dortmund almost crafted an equaliser in the 39th minute when a knock down found Mkhitaryan in the box, but his close range shot was well saved by Emi Martinez and the resulting corner well dealt with by the Gunners.
The young keeper made another save from Bender’s floater which ensured Arsenal took the lead into the half-time break.
There were no changes for either side at half-time but some early danger from the Germans in the early moments of the second period. Calum Chambers found himself out of position but Aaron Ramsey got back well to cover.
Mkhitaryan made a good interception before firing a shot straight at Martinez, while Arsenal responded with a stinging Alexis effort which forced Weidenfeller into an excellent near post stop. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then came close to doubling the lead with a fantastic 54th minute attempt. He picked up a cross field ball by Alexis, took it down, waited for the bounce and lofted a shot onto the crossbar with the keeper stranded.
Dortmund’s luck didn’t hold though as Arsenal went further ahead in the 56th minute. The goal began with a first time Mertesacker pass into Cazorla, he played it out wide to Alexis in the left hand channel. The Chilean stepped inside and curled a brilliant shot inside the far post to make it 2-0.
Jurgen Klopp almost immediately made a double change, sending on Kagawa and Ramos for Immobile and Aubameyang. Arsenal too had to make a change, this time enforced as Mikel Arteta picked up another injury and the gutted looking Spaniard was replaced by Mathieu Flamini.
For once the Gunners showed some common sense and caution, not over-committing men forward and looking to control the game through possession. Oxlade-Chamberlain fizzed a shot just over the bar after again making the most of an Alexis pass, before goalscorer Yaya Sanogo signaled to the bench he’d hurt his hamstring and was replaced by Lukas Podolski.
Gundogan tested Martinez in the 83rd minute with a low drive but the keeper made the save easily, Mkhitaryan had a shot blocked and Arsenal sat deep, allowing Dortmund to put some late pressure on but for they couldn’t find a final ball.
Cazorla fired an 89th minute free kick over before Arsene Wenger threw on Joel Campbell for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Emi Martinez made another good save before the final whistle, but Arsenal were good value for the win overall.
Not all the problems fixed by any means, but definitely a step in the right direction.