European Champions League – Arsenal Win Group F

Arsenal’s rich vein of form that belies their poor start to the season continued in the European Champions League on Wednesday. Arsenal beat German side Borussia Dortmund 2-1 to be the first English side to qualify for the knockout rounds of the competition.

Robin van Persie, of course, scored both of Arsenal’s goals. But the man of the match for me was Alex Song, who was solid in defensive mid-field all game, but showed tremendous skill and determination with a surging run and great delivery to provide Van Persie the opportunity to head home Arsenal’s first.

Arsenal-Borussia-Dortmund Robin Van Persie

Robin Van Persie heads home Arsenal's first against Borussia Dortmund

While Arsenal’s defence is still shaky at times, it has improved a great deal since the return of Thomas Vermaelen. Koscielny played well in his temporary role as right back, which made Arsene Wenger’s decision to replace him with Djourou with 7 minutes remaining very puzzling. Djourou then made the slip up that gifted Borussia Dortmund their consolation goal in the second minute of injury time.

Arsenal took to the field with 11 players from 11 different countries. This was only the third time that this had occurred in the Champions League, having previously been pulled off by Liverpool and Chelski. Arsenal’s starting line up for the record was:-

    Szczesny

Polish

   

Koscielny

French


Mertesacker

German

 
Vermaelen

Belgian


Santos

Brazilian

         
 
Arteta

Spanish


Song

Cameroonian


Ramsey

Welsh

 
         

Walcott

English

 
Van Persie

Dutch

 
Gervinho

Ivorian

The win retained Arsenal’s position at the top of Group F out of reach of their followers with one game remaining. Arsenal are the first English side to qualify for the knockout rounds of the tournament with the other English sides having a pretty poor week in the Champions League.

Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Napoli on Tuesday and now need to beat top side Bayern Munich in their final game, to have any chance of qualifying for the next rounds. Bayern Munich are unbeaten so far this season in the Champions League and City would also require Napoli to drop points against Villarreal who have lost all of their games so far.

Cross town rivals Manchester United could only manage a 2-2 draw at home to Benfica, but still look likely to qualify and could even win Group C with the results going their way in the last of the table games.

Chelsea need a goalless draw or a win against Valencia in their final game to qualify for the last 16, having lost 2-1 at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday. If they do not qualify I can not see manager Andre Villas-Boas lasting the season with their poor run of recent form in the Premier League too. Chelsea have lost three of their last four league matches.

The Premier League marches on this Saturday with Chelsea at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Manchester United have a tough game against Newcastle, who lost their first game of the season last week to Manchester City. Tottenham, who must be feeling dizzy sitting in 3rd place are away to West Bromwich Albion. Arsenal host Fulham in the late game at 5:30PM local time.

Manchester City who currently look unstoppable in this competition, have a tough game away at Liverpool on Sunday.

One Comment
  1. Arsenal suffered a little from a European Champions League hangover in their game against Fulham. They lacked any real spark and managed only a 1-1 draw, when a win was expected all around.

    After I praised Vermaelen for improving the defence, he managed to score an own goal, as well as one for the Gunners at the right end.

    Another interesting commentator fact, Arsene Wenger fielded a starting side without a Frenchman for the first time in 6 years. Although he did bring on Diaby for the last 20 minutes.

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