What could have Arsenal done differently against Dortmund?

Arsenal played Dortmund away on Matchday 1 of this season’s Champions League, looking to pick up a point or three, after drawing three successive games in the Premier League. The Gunners, however, struggled to live up to the high pressing and high tempo game plan from their German opponents and, had it not been for some profligacy in front of goal from Klopp’s frontline and midfielders, Arsenal were looking at a much bigger margin of defeat. In hindsight, what could have Wenger’s wizards done differently?
Play overhead, long passes and stretch the pitch

Dortmund’s game plan was very palpable from the off: deprive Arsenal from getting into a passing rhythm by not allowing time and space, and press Arteta and the Gunners’ backline.

It was a bright start, indeed, from the home side, but it was not to suggest that Arsenal weren’t menacing on the break in the early tussles of the match. I thought Dortmund’s pressing would play it into North Londoners’ hands, as they could have exploited the space behind the pressing personnel of Dortmund.

Welbeck had 2 clear chances in the first half, to put Arsenal ahead and, thereby, peg Dortmund back. Once Arsenal started to miss chance after chance, the confidence started diminishing, and Dortmund could take control of the game.

Coming to stretching the pitch, however: The North Londoners were adamant in wanting to play ‘their’ brand of football, irrespective of the scenario and the tactics of opponents. The Germans were pressing them incessantly, and the North London side still failed to make a switch to their system and neither did they react appropriately. The likes of Wilshere and Ramsey were looking to play short, exquisite one touch passing moves, and inebriate their German counterparts, which was never going to happen. All Arsenal needed to do was stretch the pitch, play overhead or long passes and make sure that Dortmund’s pressing became nullified. If they were going to play it long, side-to-side, Dortmund couldn’t have pressed them all night long. But, for that to have happened, Sanchez and Ozil must have maintained width, instead of cutting in. Arsenal’s passing, unlike their usual self, let them down badly.

Wear your opponents out
The dogmatic end-product from the pressing game is that the pressing side always becomes tired and worn out after a certain amount of pressing. And, after the early exploits in the second period, Dortmund resorted to pressing Arsenal – albeit not completely – and were happy to maintain the two-goal lead. Had Arsenal not conceded those two goals on either side of Half-Time, they could have wrestled control of the game once Dortmund became tired, which they were always going to. These kinds of game are much common in Europe: the better side in the game takes the lead, goes further in front and, once the batteries run out of charge, the inferior side always looks like coming back into it.

Final Thought
Arsenal lacked composure, and were culpable for their failure to read Dortmund’s game plan and the subsequent adjustments they needed to make to their own tactics. Profligacy in front of goal didn’t help their cause either and, at the end of it all, it was another European game which played out in a set pattern.

Arsenal need to bounce back, but you start to wonder whether the ineptitude to manufacture results will play on their psyche.


Tags Dortmund Ramsey Wilshere


  1. What could have Arsenal done differently against Dortmund?

    alfred…get my blackboard an chalk…this sh*t just got incredibly real

    1. Meanwhile, Gervinho is having a hell of a time at Roma… yeah, that misfiring guy you used to call & still call Forehead & such!

      1. It’s easy doing it in the weakened Italian Serie A or against CSKA Moscow at Arsenal Gervinho was an awful player nothing will change that opinion!

      2. Oh give me peace. Gervinho playing decent in Serie A and in Europe vs a crap CSKA team and you’re going to try and convince people of his worth as an Arsenal player?

        He had two years and was dire. Nobody said he couldn’t do well elsewhere, move on. NEXT

        1. I’m just saying he’s enjoying out there, and we are not! That’s not to say we need him back! He can stay where he is. He’s just another one of recent ex-players who seem to join teams that do better than ours.

          1. i’m beginning to think wenger has lost it and is now destroying players.
            then ozil.
            will sanchez be next?????

    2. Somewhere on that blackboard would have Ozils name under the heading SUB I’m sure.

      What could we have done differently?

      Played a flat back four and told the fullbacks to just sit and play with the ball in front of them rather than bombing. Then have Jack AND Ramsey as the double pivot with little licence to get upfield, and put Alexis in the hole. Throw Joel and Ox on either wing with Welbz up top…then sit, defend collectively, and counter with the 4 speedsters in quick transition.

      Call it plan B

  2. Why is the team’s passing so bad..? .honestly worst I’ve seen for years. For all his failings, that’s not AW’s fault. The whole team needs a kick up the arse, We really need a bit of zip in the midfield. Play Ox and Rosicky against Villa. Bring Aaron on later in game…he’s poor at the moment.

          1. Them’s the players we got, ya dick. They’re all ‘off form’ apparently. They need to knuckle down and improve. Even Sanchez can’t pass to save himself since he joined (although at least he chases back when he loses it)
            I’m as frustrated as anyone with AW but the players are woeful…that’s THEIR fault

            so #Fackyou

            1. So its the players fault they’re playing out of position ? & you are being very disrespectful I never disrespected u & if giving my statement waz some what disrespectful to u guess what!! #fackoff #fackface

            2. And it is AW job (for almost 8 mill/year) to manage the situation. Is that too much to ask from A MANAGER? Even if he is Arsene-god-Wenger? If a player is woeful, for 8 million pounds, I will make sure that player starts playing well. Or I will drop him and use another player! Simpless!


  4. Getting a win against arsenal is pretty easy for most top teams.

    Press high and counter.

    That’s it.

  5. You guys should know by know
    This man wenger is not gonna change

    Anyone remember the home game against dortmund last year
    How did they got their goal
    Through Counter Attack

    Then a series of disasters happened
    All teams scored through counter attacks

    It’s been almost a year since the last dortmund home game and we still ship the same type of goals in the same manner

    Chill he is not gonna change

    1. ‘wenger out’ is a bit of an overreaction but honestly does wenger have anything new to offer? He seriously is a one trick pony no wonder he gets schooled by new manager’s like r. martinez. Forget champions league did wenger actually think we can go through the entire league campaign with per and laurent?!.. oh and f**k zonal marking!

  6. its simple dortmund are better, and arsenal played like they were shit scared of them at times, thats why the passing was so off key. cowards the lot of them.

  7. it might be wrong for me to say that wener is tactically deficient?or too one dimensional in his tactical approach to games(especially the big ones).lst season at stamford bridge,was the first time i saw that 4-1-4-1 formation being used,and for some weird reason i feel a very strange negative vibe and well all know the outcome.the manager has come back with this formation and its not yielding result,but he still sticks with it.i dont know much about formations dear friends,but if you are playing a slow dm in arteta and a very very slow cb,then you are toast against quality teams with sound tactics.wen playing wellbeck as a lone striker,i think 4-2-3-1,will work better,but if we have a big player like oliver(boooos),thn we can try the 4-1-4-1,thingy cos he can hold the ball for our midfielders to run in.but on the overall,shame on wenger for not giving our defence a good cover DM.NO BODY PLAYS A SLOW DM/CB AND EXPECT TO B REGARDED AS CHAMPIONSHIP MATERIAL.IT HURTS GUYS,REALLY HURTS.

  8. What could they have done?

    Ditch the 4-1-4-1 and rotate the squad. We have a soft, underbelly, our backline and defensive midfielders.
    We cannot hold the line like Bayern or DFB. Yes, Ozil played in the system that Wenger is killing us with but again, we are do no have punishers in the midfield. I love Flamini and Arteta’s spirit but they are no Khedira or Schweinsteger.
    We have a surplus of wingers and a lack of defensive midfielders. 4-3-3 lets pass and move. Also, play Joel Campbell, Podolski, ROSICKY! Surely, they are rested and ready to go.

  9. Huntelaar just scored against Chelsea.
    How I wish we had a clinical striker like him leading the lines…
    Even if you have a porous midfield, it helps when you know your dangerman upfront wouldn’t miss if given half a chance
    It makes things so much easier when you have a clinical striker 🙁

  10. We have 3 big problems:
    1. We’re too slow at the back. Any team with pace will be able to effectively hit us on the counter. Saw it against Liverpool Chelsea, and again at Dortmund last night.

    2. We use a DM who offers no defensive cover to aid with point 1. We don’t break up play in the middle, and our DM doesn’t cover the back 4 much if at all.

    3. We wasted our chances when we got them. Can’t win big games if you squander the chances you get.

    Unfortunately, none of the above are new problems, and all of the above will stop us winning the big games.

  11. Man City have 4 DM (or players capable of playing the role)…!
    Our midfield is too soft.
    We will win game because at the end, we have quality in the team, but we won’t win the league or the CL (unreachable objective and too difficult with our limited squad and delusional manager).
    We will lose against the top teams in the league (and Europe) because we have no power and we are tactically misguided by a deluded fool.
    Arteta is Arsenal captain… It sounds scary and pitiful just to write.
    Ozil plays on the wing… Or how to throw away £42millions through the window.
    Sanogo was our number one striker before Welbeck arrival… No comment otherwise I will go off.
    No leaders in this team.
    Mertesacker has had his contract extend when we know he is almost finished.
    Arteta is in discussion for extension too… Wenger doing because he “loves” those “yes” crap players.
    Did you see the kit man on the bench with Podolski? I did not… Ozil had to give one of his shin guards to Podolski because the guy was sitting his fat ass.
    Wenger was just overwhelmed by the all situation and he clearly could not cope that is why he decided to sit down and admire Dortmund tearing us apart.

    Wenger is just not doing his job and age is catching up with him.

    “I know what I am doing”
    This are the words of a senile delusional individual.

    1. Yeah, but EVERY SINGLE player is playing crap. Even if any player is not in their favourite position, they can at least try. Their workrate was so far below BVB last night, and the passing was embarassing. I agree….they DO need a leader to get them to up the effort. But cut the crap about Podolski’s shinguard…can he not get one himself?

      1. If every player is playing crap then the manager isn’t doing his job properly otherwise what’s the point of him.

        1. Nah…any manager can only put his players on the field. The manager of any team doesn’t influence things as much as you think. 11 underform players who aren’t trying hard enough..that’ll cause problems

          1. je ne suis pas d’accord, monsieur yankee, hahahaha. The team is as good as the leader is. In this case Wenger is at fault. The line is pretty much correct

              1. You are giving many F*** monsieur Yankee, otherwise you would not be here speaking to people who know their sh%t.

  12. silva could of been braver in that corner he let gotze in front of him to easily was not strong there any word of that from the pundits? none at all had that been ozil my word he would of been slaughtered

  13. Remind me why chambers didn’t play..???

    Tonsillitis ..? A sore throat ffs.. You are playing for arsenal fc not Torquay utd! Players should be chomping at the bit to experience playing in the CL.. It’s a joke, what are they.. Men or fannys??

    Ex pros the world over are scratching their heads in disbelief at how we can go into the new season with only 3 centre backs and no holding midfielders! What is going on seriously??
    Nobody barring Wenger believes we can actually win anything this season.. We are so average it’s frightening! We need to lower our expectations this season otherwise we are in for a mighty fall..
    People say we have no plan B .. Wait a minute.. Prey fu@kin tell we have no plan A!
    No structure,purpose, or ambition… From a clueless lacklustre weak minded egotistical stubborn man that will never change as long as he’s in charge!
    I said at the start of the season when we failed to strengthen the defence and midfield ..that we would struggle to get out of the CL group and not make the top 4..
    I’m still standing by that prediction unless Wenger signs 3 players in January .. We all know he’s not going to do that don’t we..
    So our season is going to be a failure!!

    1. Wengers plan to keep the heat of himself is too play players out of position this time it’s Ozil but remember how he treated arshsvin,he is a fraud and it costs us 8m a year to have a stubborn deluded fool standby week after week and drag this club backwards ,we should be challenging for all the major honours this year and yet we have a manager with no ambition and forward planning happy to keep 100m in the bank rather than replace players past there prime with the younger stronger athletes we have needed.

      1. Evening mate.. When you analyse everything you realise that mertesacker and arteta are poor .. Too slow and liabilities!
        Any team now will see this as a weakness and try to exploit it..
        A top team don’t really have this.. This is one of Wengers poorest teams in terms of quality..
        Playing players out of position like Wenger does is suicidal and demoralising to the players and their confidence!
        We keep saying it on here that Wenger needs to go before we can become great again.. Probably another 2 years before he goes then another 2/3 years for a new manager to stamp his authority..
        (Saying that, any new manager would kick this lacklustre team into shape within weeks!!)

        1. Good evening mate ,agree with everything you say I feel so sad and worried about where Wenger is taking the club this season and while it was great fun mocking Man U fans last season we are going to end up in a similar position this time around unless Ivan and stan grow some balls and sack our old deluded stubborn manager

  14. thinking, Hhmmmm

    maybe if we lose 5-0 to Villa Arsene will need to answer questions.

    It gotten so bad I am actually thinking I would prefer us to be humiliated game in and out until something changes.

    1. I don’t think Villa can beat us 5-0. Okay, maybe if we get an early red card, it could happen. It would be tragic, but I think that would be just the medicine we need.

  15. Not much could have been done.
    We missed 3 chances they missed 6.
    So its an away loss must win the return
    But first beat Villa.
    Szcz Bellerin Chambers Kos Gibbo
    Ram, Art. Sanch Caz Poldi Wellbe

  16. I’m stating the obvious but we really need to sort out DM. With the window closed until Christmas the solution needs to come from within. Arteta and Flamini are good squad players but clearly not the answer. Start the auditions versus Aston Villa. First up Diaby (not that I think it’s his best position but heck, time he started repaying Wenger’s faith).

  17. We need another Gilberto in the midfield, we need someone to sit back and break up the play, a strong DM. ARTETA AND FLAMINI are too lightweight, they get shrugged off to easily. Either start playing chambers there, or maybe Hayden, I mean these are the options available at this time. We have to try something like this, otherwise we will be thumped again by the big teams like the last few seasons. Our current crop of midfielders are useless tracking back, except Sanchez and Ox(when he’s on the pitch). Ozil needs a massive wake up call, it seems his negative, lethargic behaviour is affecting the rest of the team. It’s either he comes to the party or sit on the bench as Carzola is more impressive now, and maybe start giving Rosicky a chance. Ramsay is also off form. Jack though has done well so far, let’s hope the injury is not that bad but he has made a better impact than Ozil. The entire world is noticing this and the need for a CDM, WHY can’t Wenger and the board see it. I reckon that Rosicky, Podolski, Campbell, Cazorla need more game time. Cazorla must start in place of Ozil. As for the defense, I really don’t know…why sell TV5 in the summer, they could have dragged it to the Jan window. And with Per being so poor, TV5 would have slotted in perfectly. Also the fullbacks need to focus more defensively, rather than bombarding forward all the time. Wenger has slipped up not signing a central defender, and the CDM. But let’s see, hopefully Diaby can come in the mix , provided he is injury free……Other option is try to bring Jenkinson back from loan, not sure if it is possible. Ballerin has potential but is still needs more time, especially defensively. Well beck I feel will do well, give him some time, he will be prolific.

  18. Ks-Bro is going to answer your questions.

    Wilsher is the only one currently playing the game who likes to play short passing football. Besides him Rosicky play it and Ozil can do it too, but the fella is playing out wide.

    Ramsey is someone who likes to run, run, men on the run ( dash berlin, dope song, try it out). Sanchez is not settlet yet and is like Ramsey a player who likes to run, and Arteta is to old and passes the ball to many times to Mertesacker. ( how much i hate this).

    As far as i do remember, the so called sexy football died deff out when we lost Hleb. Arsenal needs somme players who are good with the ball, passing and taking on players. Arsenal game style is easy to conter. Barcelona have already been found out and let alone a fake A3ss copy team like Arsenal.

    Wilsher and Rombo dont mix up with eacher. Wenger should have bough spend the money on Draxler. What are 35m when someone like Carrol do cost that much and the likes of Mata and Ozil 42m

    1. we could still field a decent team v villa; we have options, but wenger wont see them.
      we need to go back to 4321. we dont have the players for 4141.

      ozil def needs benchtime while cazorla or roziscky play in the hole.
      ramsay needs benchtime while wilshire plays.
      pod/campbell/ox : 2 of these 3 can start on the wings, and sub in one later on for freshness.

      i bet some of what we see is bc the players are dispirited bc wenger’s playing his first XI into the ground while the bench gets mad at not getting played: that cant be good for morale.
      they prob think like we do that he’s lost his touch (but he’s gentle w them so they probably dont get mad at the old codger)

      backline of bellerin/mert/koz/gibbs ok for villa.
      for DM : bring diaby back FFS.
      hes doing ok in U21: we need him.

  19. Our counterattacking is not good enough and missed chances pile up more pressure with a weakening defensive midfield position we need accurate and high tempo passing which require a lot of off the ball movement to give the guy with the ball more options of where to pass the ball.
    Most teams will try to press us this season so we need more work on intercepting the ball this method frustrates a high pressing opponent and this work doesnt fall on MA8 alone the whole team needs to sharpen up and improve their defensive work rate

  20. sell Ozil, Mert, Flamini, Arteta, Sanogo and Poldolski.

    that could get 60-70 mil

    Get DM, CB X 2 and decent LW

  21. You can lick his balls as much as you like after giving you the FA Cup after 9 years, but you have to know that AW is the problem for Arsenal Club. He still deserves respect from what he has done for our club, but, boy, the man has no tactic against top teams and is too stubborn . He refused to solve the main problem we had in defense and DM and still refuse to rotate the squad He can blame the players, but what about himself? Running a football club like his own bedroom where he can do whatever he wants.

  22. Although Flamini is not the greatest player on the ball, his presence in the midfield allows the other midfielders more freedom to commit to the attacks while at the same time not exposing us on the counter.

    Both goals came off counter attacks because our back 4 were left unprotected with arteta (our “defensive/holding mid) caught up field. Our midfielders are not disciplined when it comes to the transition play so without a legit holding mid, the back four will be exposed every time. not to mention the fact that with the wing backs committing to the attack as well, once the ball is lost, then the only two left in the back are koscielny and mertesacker. then people start complaining about mertesacker’s pace when in reality, with the right protection from a real dm, mert would never be exposed in the foot races but rather the covering which he does so well at.

    Depth in the rb position wouldve helped also. no offense to bellerin but the kid just isnt ready, especially debuting in a stadium like the signal iduna park.

    1. wenger needs to give the players the hairdryer treatment,but he wont: too gentile.
      under strong managers, players WOULD get back.
      thats not a technical skill: just needs commitment & discipline.

      lets not forget another reason: players were exhausted after manc: stupid not to rotate in caz/ox/pod & campbell.

  23. we maybe need to just tweak the tactics a bit and sit back and hit on the counter we saw some of this last season and it worked to good effect, we should do this against teams that will press high against(i.e bvb) us they will not expect us to sucker punch them on the break especially with walcott, we should play to our strengths at the moment which is hitting on counter with pace not pretty passing triangles against teams that will chase down the ball.

    we just need to solidify the defense and c/m atm i think when walcott returns you will see more counter attacking football from us and ozil back in center more permanently, wenger is just making ends meet atm until he can bring the big gun back walcott the need for speeeeeeeeeed baby will return to our play then.

    sanchez on left walcott on the right we will look more solid on the wings as both can track back as well as attack.

  24. bellerin was completely overwhelmed on the right bvb (a clever tactical ploy from klopp) just worked 2 and 3 man overloads on him(imobille and arbumyang misspelled i think lol) both worked him ragged on that side as well as l/b vs 1’s on him what was he suppose to do he aint superman he can only track one player at a time not 2 or 3 coming at him and overlapping him poor kid no doubt he is a class player in the making last night will be a good lesson for him in future. we should give a long run in for debuchy he will do well in the league i think

    1. @goonerwineverything
      Ozil not trackin back didn’t help either. Thank goodness Alexis switched and started tryin to help young Bellerin…

  25. Got a manager that could see we needed a world class DM and this silly little thing whe your player leaves for Spain replace he you freeking num nuts. Please leave arsena AW if you love the club as you say leave

  26. Ozil is playing in a position that doesnt suite his ability — its like telling Koz to get in the goal and you start accusing him for letting goals in. AW as a manager should dwell on the players’ strenghts rather than trying to force them into positions they are not suited to play.

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