Arsenal have been excellent this season and before last nights game, our only defeat was against Aston Villa on the opening day of the season. Unfortunately for us, Dortmund got the rub of the green and did just enough to beat Arsenal by two goals to one.
Before the game and with the run we’ve been on, for me a defeat against Dortmund wouldn’t have been the end of the world. And even the day after, it still isn’t. We’ve been really excellent this season and two defeats in 14 games is nothing to be ashamed of. We’re still top of the Premier League, top of our Champions League group and in a better position this season so far than any Arsenal fan could have imagined this summer.
Arsenal have been playing some really exhilarating football this season, and the goal by Jack Wilshere against Norwich at the weekend summed up our season – great football, huge confidence and a mental toughness in the squad we haven’t seen in a lot time. But last night, we looked a little jaded.
We beat Napoli with high intensity football a few weeks ago but we couldn’t reach those height last night. We looked a little tired at times and it’s worth remembering this is the team (minus Gotze) that reached the Champions League final last season. If anything, we showed a little naivety in the closing stages and got hit with a sucker punch when we probably should have seen out a draw.
But by the same token if Arsenal didn’t go for the win then would it have been the same Arsenal? We’ve scored late winners before and one thing we all love about Arsenal is they never give up and always fight until the last second.
The problem I thought we had was the absence of Mathieu Flamini. Without him we lose some bite in midfield, and he has been one of our most important players this season. We’ve been playing some sintilating football this season, scored a lot of special goals but every team needs that enforcer in midfield to organise the team and we missed his endeavour and defensive prowess. His energy also sets the tempo for Arsenal to launch their attacks.
Mikel Arteta is a very good player but I’m not sure he is best in the defensive midfield position. Flamini has more pace and releases the ball quicker to the creative midfielders such as Ramsey, Wilshere and Rosicky.
We have a lot of options in the attacking midfield areas – Ramsey, Rosicky, Wilshere, Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain, but in defensive midfield we really only have Flamini – Arteta is better in a more advanced position. I’m not sure how long Flamini is out for, but he is a player we desperately need back.