Arsenal As Close To The Real Thing As Ever

Many wondered if this run of tough games would be the making or breaking of Arsenal. After their win against Dortmund, Nick Miller says it looks like the former...

Last Updated: 07/11/13 at 14:17 Post Comment

Latest Articles

A Battle For The Soul Of Football

8 comments

Adam Bate was in the Santiago Bernabeu to watch Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich 1-0. It was a clash of styles that felt like far more than just a contest between two teams...

Van Gaal Would Promise A Fascinating Ride

19 comments

Should Louis van Gaal take over at Old Trafford, there seems little guarantee that he would be successful. One thing is sure, it would be an interesting and enjoyable ride...

All Articles

Arsene Wenger knew. Somehow, he knew what was coming, back in 2012, when he said: "Once Aaron Ramsey starts scoring goals, he won't stop."

And he hasn't stopped this season. Ramsey's goal (his 11th of a remarkable campaign) in the 62nd minute of their 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund was Arsenal's first effort on goal of any description. Before they had tried not one shot, on target, off target, hit the post, blocked, saved - nothing. Nada. Zip. It was a mugging and no mistake.

But what a mugging. Daniel Storey asked this week at what point Arsenal should become favourites for the Premier League title, which of course inspired some debate in the Mailbox over whether this latest incarnation of Wenger's side can be considered the real thing.

It's probably too early to judge, but they're the closest Wenger has had to the real thing since Patrick Vieira left. This is an Arsenal equally capable of winning beautifully and winning hideously, as they did in Germany on Wednesday night.

When Dortmund picked Arsenal off as they looked for a victory in the previous game, Sarah Winterburn wrote about how the Gunners left themselves far too open and allowed Dortmund's rapier counter-attacks to rip them open, but there were no such mistakes this time. This was an old-fashioned English away performance in Europe, clinging on before nicking something on the break.

Initially, it didn't look too good. Jurgen Klopp said he prefers an English style of football, revelling in the times his players have run more than the opposition, but in the first half in particular this was English football plus. English football supersized. English football, if you'll excuse the slightly tortured heavy metal reference, turned up to 11. Arsenal looked dizzied at times with how relentless Dortmund were. Even Mesut Ozil, Arsenal's chosen one created by the very midi-chlorians themselves, looked hurried and vaguely punch-drunk as he tried to create something, such was the ferocity of Dortmund's pressing.

In the first half Arsenal were very easily contained. They created barely anything and with every attack Dortmund mounted, they looked less and less likely to get the point that would have still been a good result.

But they did hang on. It's worth noting that the most encouraging aspect of this Arsenal side is that they seem to be improving. Even earlier on this season they were prone to the sort of lapses of concentration that cause woe among their fans and clucks of scepticism about their credentials from the rest of us. Even in games they ostensibly won comfortably (Norwich at home springs to mind) they were prone to dozing off and almost allowing their opponents back in. They beat Norwich 4-1, but two of the goals came in the final seven minutes to add a gloss that their careless play in the previous half an hour or so didn't exactly merit.

Not so here though. Of course it's a bit easier to stay alert when Robert Lewandowski is running at you with a lead to protect, rather than when you're 2-0 up against Robert Snodgrass and pals, but it would have been very easy for Arsenal to crumble under the yellow waves of pressure. They didn't though, and eliminating lapses in concentration and repelling one of the continent's best teams are both encouraging signs that Arsenal have what it takes up top, as well as in their feet. Many wondered if this run of tough games, which closes with the trip to Manchester United on Sunday, would be the making or breaking of Arsenal - after this performance, it very much looks like the former.

Wayne Rooney's declaration that Arsenal might not be all that just yet looks a little foolish now, just a few hours after he made it, but it is of course sensible given what history tells us about Arsenal.

That's for the rest of us though. Arsenal fans can be forgiven for thinking that they have the real thing now.

Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

hy don't you call in Becks as well...and we will all have a lovely tea party!

kimosabi
United: Scholes helping out

M

ourinho is just a good-looking version of Allardyce (Fit Sam?). Clearly 19th century football isn't such a big deal after all?

Ezy_Rider
Chelsea Killed The Game Instead Of Playing It

S

tay put, Pep. Timothy Sherwood has this under control.

slowgraffiti
Guardiola plans Bayern stay

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Europa League: Lima's late winner gives Benfica 2-1 victory in semi-final first-leg

Substitute Lima struck late to help Benfica to a 2-1 victory over Juventus in their Europa League semi-final first-leg.

Nicky Butt proud to be assisting Manchester United's temporary boss Ryan Giggs

Nicky Butt says he is immensely proud to be assisting Manchester United's temporary manager Ryan Giggs.

Europa League: Sevilla secure first leg lead in all-Spanish clash with Valencia

Sevilla toppled La Liga rivals Valencia in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final to claim a 2-0 advantage.

Mail Box

Guardiola Is No Better Than Moyes...

At least he wasn't in Bayern's defeat to Real Madrid, says one chap in the mailbox. Plus, more excitement over Van Gaal at Man United and thoughts on FFP...

Man United Fans Excited By Van Gaal Talk

Man United fans know who they want to replace David Moyes, with Louis van Gaal the favourite to take over at Old Trafford. Plus, thoughts on Real Madrid v Bayern Munich...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property