We’ve been waiting for a match that would finally see us stumble, and Tuesday’s clash with Dortmund was apparently it. That’s too bad, but it’s not a crisis. It complicates things moving forward, of course (more on that here), but we can take stock and set it aside in order to regroup for the trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday. Here, then, is a quick run-down of our boys’ efforts last night (all statistics courtesy of whoscored.com):
- Arteta: 7.5/10—did all of the things we’ve come to expect, leading the team with 11 tackles to help disrupt Dortmund’s counters and 9 accurate long balls to initiate ours, trying to support the back four…some have knocked him for a lack of pace, and there might be truth to that, but he was arguably our best on the day.
- Koscielny: 7/10—Did his job well keeping Lewandowski at bay for most of the evening. He might have Busquet-ed a bit more after getting elbowed, but the referee made an odd call anyway (the elbow should have drawn red or nothing).
- Giroud: 7/10—did well to finish a tricky sequence to equalize. On a day when we only put six shots on target, he made the most of the limited service he did receive.
- Szczęsny: 6/10—very little he could do on either goal. Then again, coming up with a save on one of those, as improbable as it seems, is what world-class keepers can do. I’m not knocking Woj; I’m just waiting for when we’ll see him pull a save like that out of his hat.
- Gibbs: 6/10—led the team with interceptions and clearances (7 each), reflecting the fact that 45% of Dortmund’s attack came down his side. He really should have done more to close down on the cross on the second goal. By then, though, he might have been a bit knackered, and sending Monreal in might have made sense. After all, Gibbs did have to contend with the fresher legs of Aubamayeng and Hofman, both on at 66’…
- Rosický: 6/10—a typically Rosickian effort on the evening, but aside from Hummels’ stellar goal-line clearance, he was not as effective or incisive as was needed.
- Mertesacker: 6/10—five clearances on the night, but an otherwise standard Mertesackerian game. Quiet. Assured. Did what he had to do. He knows his limits and stays within them, by and large. Those limits, though, do begin to beg certain questions in my mind.
- Özil: 6/10—a largely anonymous performance, strangely muted. Four key-passes but only 56 passes overall.
- Sagna: 5.5/10—nice cross, which should get him credit for the assist, but I haven’t seen it listed. He looked tired, though, and was notably absent on Dortmund’s second goal. Clips show him trotting back but apparently not crossing midfield as the attack unfolded. As with Gibbs, a sub might have made sense if only to offset Dortmund’s midfield subs.
- Ramsey: 5/10—made a bad mistake on the first goal, trying to dribble out of a tight situation and getting dispossessed. Then again, he received a pass in a near-impossible position. Turning to the flank rather than the middle might have been the better move, but this would have been a complete 180. Beyond that, an all-around sub-par performance, so I’m sure his critics are sharpening their knives. Piers Morgan, are you there?
- Wilshere: 4/10—First, I apologize for initially laying into him for being absent on the second goal. I’ve deleted that but should be taken to task for my own mistake! As ClockendJim points out below, he was on the bench by that point. Nonetheless, he contributed little all evening. 65% pass-accuracy on 20 passes means he gave the ball away seven times, and he was a complete non-factor on defense, getting credit for zero tackles, interceptions, or clearances. Only 36 touches on the night was the lowest of any starter—lower, even, than his replacement. Cazorla, playing 42 minutes, had 41 touches. We ask and expect a lot of Jack, and he doesn’t have to live up to those expectations, but this was a poor showing by any standard.
Subs: As mentioned above, shrewder substitutions might have made a nifty difference. Throwing on Cazorla almost changed the game; tossing Bendtner and Gnabry to generate more offense was too little, too late, if only because neither really the time to contribute.
- Cazorla: 7/10 (58′ for Wilshere)—as alluded to above, he was energetic and incisive and very nearly scored, hitting the woodwork and buzzing about. Had he started…oh well.
- Bendtner: n/a (86′ for Ramsey). Not on long enough to rate.
- Gnabry: n/a (89′ for Rosický). Not on long enough to rate.
That’s that. We’ll lick our wounds, learn a few lessons, and get ready for the next one.