Date: 16th September 2014 at 11:29pm
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Ouch! We took a slapping tonight against an uncomplicated team who play with energy but in reality little finesse though by no means unrefined either. Both their goals were examples of straightforward direct play. Immobile running from the halfway line, tried to cut inside Koscielny but as the ball, fortuitously perhaps, bounced off his right foot its deflected path gave the Italian forward an extra yard as Koscielny initially tried to put the brakes on. If conceding a goal immediately before half time is a psychological blow then conceding another immediately after the restart should warrant a therapy session when the boys get back home. A quick turnover of possession as we once again failed to take care of the ball and a quick ball into the breaking Aubamayang and we were 2 down.

Mixing their play up with plenty of long ball Dortmund created chances in the first half but for the most part when the defence didn’t deal with it Szczesny made the correct decisions. Foregoing possession and pass accuracy Dortmund won most of the tackles and got the ball quickly into dangerous areas. Our tendency to play too close together, depriving ourselves of space, made it hard for us to control midfield well enough to make Dortmund have to chase the ball. With so many of our players failing to complete enough of their passes Dortmund were able to intercept and get the ball forward time and time again to have us running towards our own goal far too often.

Bellerin, Ramsey and Sanchez were particularly wasteful and Ramsey was hooked off along with Ozil with half an hour still to play. Ramsey possibly for wasting so many passes and Ozil for wasting very few, far and away the most accurate of our midfield, but perhaps not being able to make enough of them. It’s wonderful to see Alexis taking players on with great skill as often as he did but disappointing to then see his next ball go astray. If he can improve on that one aspect of his game, and he definitely needs to, he’ll be as complete a player as we’ve had.

Of the replacements for Mesut and Aaron, Cazorla fared a little better but Ox seemed to add some energy though whether that might have been as Dortmund tired is hard to say. Though we’ve saved a few games from difficult positions recently there was little to believe we could ever get back into this game. Welbeck had chances that he might have made more of, one a great turn and shot from the edge of the box, but chances for us were in short supply all round. Welbeck will take some stick for his ‘misses’ but you do get the feeling that he’s getting into positions where it shouldn’t take too long before he opens his account for us.

Defensively Dortmund were very strong across the whole back four with Sokratis, whom we were linked with in the summer, having a particularly good game. On our side only Koscielny and Mertesacker can come out of the game with much credit with Koscielny making a number of successful interceptions and clearances and BFG not too far behind him. Bellerin might have hoped for a less taxing baptism and he did struggle at times especially with possession but stuck to his task and looks a more talented prospect than Jenkinson. On the left Gibbs did a little better and a couple of forays, infrequent as they were, into the attacking third threatened briefly.

Overall though a disappointing night where we failed to stretch Dortmund needing far too much time on the ball – or maybe they were just particularly good at not allowing us any. They deserve respect for an effective performance and we only deserve to spend a bit more time reflecting on how we got it wrong.