Wednesday’s 1-0 victory against Borussia Dortmund was the second time Arsenal have won on German soil this year. Fans and media alike have wasted no time in indulging in some jingoistic chest thumping. The commentators shrieked in delight as the final whistle blew at the Signal Iduna Park. From the ensuing sycophancy and string of positive results, one may immediately get the impression that Arsenal have finally arrived and are now set to win some silverware this season, with some even going so far as to give the title of ‘best player in Europe’ to Aaron Ramsey.
While Arsenal are genuine contenders for the Premier League title this season and even look to be the best team in England by some distance, are they ahead of the likes of European teams such as Dortmund as well? While Arsenal’s defensive performance in Signal Iduna Park, which gifted them 3 points, deserves praise, a closer examination of both games against Dortmund tells a different story as to who were the better side overall.
In the first game at the Emirates, Dortmund produced a textbook away performance with what was a bit of a smash and grab 2-1 victory as the stats revealed that Arsenal and Dortmund were fairly even. Arsenal had 9 shots on target, while Dortmund had 8. The return game, on the other hand, at first almost seemed like a complete reversal, as it was once again the visitors that took the spoils in a similar smash and grab fashion despite being subdued for certain periods. However this time out, the home side completely dominated the visitors. Dortmund had an astonishing 15 shots on goal while Arsenal could only muster 4. Despite the recent plaudits and jubilation surrounding Arsenal’s exploits last night, Borussia Dortmund were arguably the better side when taking both games and statistics into account.
The game was replete with squandered chances for Dortmund that went begging while the Gunners looked vulnerable. Dortmund also came up with two away goals and if the two matches were to be a knock out tie, the yellow-blacks would have been the team that progressed. Although the latter statement may not be too much to read into, the fact is that Dortmund came off as the better side over the two encounters. The truth, however, is likely to be overlooked by the latest hype surrounding last night’s result in the context of the rise of this current Arsenal side. Lofty expectations for the Gunners are justifiable at least domestically, but not in Europe.