donderdag 24 november 2011

Champions League: Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 1

It's him again! RVP's deadly double seals progress

Arsenal may occupy an unusual place in the Barclays Premier League table, but it is business as usual in Europe.
Arsene Wenger’s side became the first English side to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League and, as they progressed for the 12th consecutive season, Robin van Persie was again the difference, scoring two goals  to take his tally to 38 in 41 games in 2011.
While the Manchester clubs have set the domestic League alight but struggled in Europe, Arsenal will finish top of a group containing Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Olympiakos — no mean feat,  especially when you consider that even reaching the group stage, via a play-off victory over Udinese, looked an arduous task in August. Crisis? What crisis?

Flying Dutchman: Robin van Persie breaks the deadlock with a header in the second half

Flying Dutchman: Robin van Persie breaks the deadlock with a header in the second half
Poacher: Van Persie slots home his second goal of the night to seal the win

Van Persie slots home his second goal of the night to seal the win

Winning Group F also delays the almost inevitable meeting with Barcelona — and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas — in the latter stages of the competition.
In his programme notes, Wenger talked about the ‘growth’ of this team, who have won 11 of their 13 matches since they drew 1-1 against Dortmund on September 13.
The discipline is still sometimes lacking, as substitute Johan Djourou demonstrated with the lapse of concentration that led to Shinji Kagawa’s stoppage-time consolation goal, but things are steadily gelling and improving.
Dortmund also had an indifferent start to their domestic campaign but beat Bundesliga leaders  Bayern Munich 1-0 at the weekend. At the Emirates, they were confident in possession, passing the ball around neatly in the opening half an hour without really threatening goal. It was just like Arsenal can be: zippy and intricate but missing the end product.
Kagawa’s fifth-minute shot was easily gathered by Wojciech  Szczesny, who also watched  Robert Lewandowski’s right-foot shot fizz wide.
Mario Gotze, the 19-year-old who will cost in excess of £30million to prise away from Dortmund, played only 28 minutes. 
With his long sleeves and gloves on a relatively mild night at the Emirates, the German looked like a potential Arsenal player and, although  hampered by injury, there were still flashes of why he is rated so highly.

Jump for joy: Mikel Arteta (second left), Aaron Ramsey and Yossi Benayoun congratulates Van Persie

Jump for joy: Mikel Arteta (second left), Aaron Ramsey and Yossi Benayoun congratulates Van Persie
His balance and easy manner of covering ground is similar to that of Jack Wilshere and he showed a willingness to play little one-twos. 
Dortmund flooded the centre of midfield when Arsenal got the ball and the hosts struggled to break them down in the first half. Pace was the Premier League side’s best asset, with Theo Walcott breaking through twice in the first 20 minutes before having an effort disallowed for offside.
Mats Hummels recovered to thwart the winger’s first run then a delightful chipped ball over the top from Aaron Ramsey was smothered by goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller with Walcott closing in quickly.
The 22-year-old then turned  provider, swinging in an exquisite cross after a pass from Ramsey that Weidenfeller just managed to palm away under pressure from Van Persie.

It was Arsenal’s turn to be exposed by pace at the start of the second half, as the lively Lewandowski and Kagawa combined again to send the latter through on goal. Per Mertesacker looked a relieved man as the Japan striker’s low shot was saved by Szczesny.
Yet, with Van Persie in their side, Arsenal must always be confident of scoring. Wenger admitted he has ‘never had a striker on this kind of a run’ before and the Dutchman pounced again after 49 minutes.

Alex Song sent a chipped right-foot cross to the far post after a sensational run from just inside the halfway line. Weidenfeller got a hand to Van Persie’s header but could not stop the Arsenal captain. Few can in this sort of form.
Gervinho has been a willing ally for Van Persie this season but could have done with the striker’s poise in front of goal 10 minutes later. Instead of shooting early after Ramsey’s pass, he dithered and Weidenfeller intercepted.

The Emirates became strangely quiet when Van Persie fell awkwardly and there was a collective sigh of relief when the 28-year-old, who has so often struggled with injury, dusted himself down and played on, allowing him to score Arsenal’s second in the 86th minute
It was a classic training-ground routine. Thomas Vermaelen drew the goalkeeper to the near post by flicking on Mikel Arteta’s corner and Van Persie capitalised in the space left behind.
With victory all but assured, there was still time for a final lapse of concentration. Szczesny looked furious as substitute Moritz Leitner capitalised on a defensive mix-up and teed up Kagawa, who stroked the ball home.

Source: mail online

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