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Despite Defeat to Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund Are Still The Better Team

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.

Arsenal may be sure favorites for the Premier League title, but this should not be confused with them being outright favorites for the Champions League crown as well. Prior to the victory last night, the latter idea has largely been driven by Arsenal’s meaningless win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena last season, which was nearly celebrated as a trophy by the Arsenal faithful. The one off result where Bayern fielded a weakened side was even less meaningful than Arsenal’s defeats to Blackburn and Bradford last season.

While Chelsea, United and City are in a period of transition under new managers, Arsenal look to be the strongest in England. However, making them out to be better than the top European sides is something that is highly questionable.

Editor’s note: For more news, opinion and analysis about BVB, visit our Borussia Dortmund team page.

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  1. Dev

    November 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

    What an absolutely pathetic, ignorant and biased article. Dortmund’s ‘smash and grab’ win is alright as the teams were “evenly matched”. Arsenal’s “smash and grab” win means nothing because Dortmund had more shots on goal. A 7 year old can put forward. a better argument than that.

    “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.” Only 3 of those 15 shots were on target.

  2. Jack

    November 8, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Little over the top here in the comments, not like he called Arsenal the worst team ever. I disagree that Dortmund are the better team, though I don’t think Arsenal are the better team either. I think the two matches show them to be on very equal footing. BOTH wins were narrow and came from minor defensive errors.

    Not to knock stats but I would say that these two games are a classic case of stats telling half the story. In many ways Arsenal hasn’t been following the expected script this season, in tough games conceding more possession and relying on breaking up play via Flamini, Arteta, Wilshire and on defensive solidity.

    The two offside goals Dortmund scored weren’t just a lucky break for Arsenal, looking at how rigid the back four is in both cases, plus how quick the arms go up, it’s surprising to see Dortmund caught by such obvious offside traps.

    In the first game we saw Dortmund’s other worldly athleticism allow them the opportunity to sucker punch an exhausted Arsenal. The reverse fixture displayed the fact that Arsene Wenger (and Arsenal stalwart Steve Bould) is still one of the best tacticians in the game, beating Dortmund with what amounted to straight up Rope A Dope football.

    Listen to Jurgen Klopp, he’s not just being generous in defeat, he knows exactly how hard both these games were.

  3. KC

    November 7, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Looks like the author doesn’t watch football games and prefers to go by stats, which obviously will not tell even 10% of the story. If everyone were to go by stats, and as Arjun continues to point out in case of Arsenal, where Bradford beat them on penalties, then Wigan must be better than Manchester City, going by how he continues to harp on the same thing for all his replies.

    What the author cannot understand is, that there is more to football than stats. Assured perfromances do not reflect in stats. If he really wants to “analyse” the game based on stats, he should look at defensive and midfield stats too. But of course, that actually takes some application of the mind, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t bother.

  4. dano328

    November 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    What a moron. We had 2 fixtures fall of 2011 & two more this year. That’s 12 points of which we took 7. Plus we are much better than in 2011 when we relied on RVPrick for goals.

  5. Srini

    November 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Heh.. Shots on goal…

  6. Brandon Kilgore

    November 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Yeah, this guy trashes the Prem in every post he makes. Please know your primary audience and reduce him to commenting below the articles where he belongs.

  7. Ken

    November 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    The head to head in these games might determine finishing positions and that will mean Dortmund finishing ahead of Arsenal.

  8. Amos

    November 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Basing your decision as to who is the better side on limited statistics is foolish. Especially when you only consider shots on target for the first game and total shots for the second. You might consider that as Arsenal created much the same number of shots on target but converted more of their chances that indicates a greater superiority for Arsenal. A high number of shots relatively few of which are on target illustrates a ‘hit and hope for the best’ tendency which is the polar opposite of technical superiority. You could also argue that as Arsenal dominated both possession, passing frequency and passing accuracy, tackled more often and more successfully that those statistics also suggest Arsenal were superior in key aspects of their performance.

  9. Mick

    November 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Dortmund are a better team than Arsenal? Wow- really? Aren’t you a clever boy working that out. They’re also better than almost everyone else in Europe. Thats why Arsenal’s result was so impressive. Moron.

  10. Milhouse

    November 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    I knew who wrote this article before I even clicked the link.

    I love Germany, I hate England by Arjun Niranjan

  11. Frill Artist

    November 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Well said. Besides, in a two leg game, Dortmund would have won on away goal rule. However, this is the same team that celebrated beating Tottenham to 4th place last season as a trophy. Small club mentality.

    • redanddread

      November 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      You win what you can mate. There’s nothing small about Arsenal. The cupboard’s been bare recently but we play in the big leagues and we’re here to stay and it looks like this year, we’re out to ruffle a few feathers.

      Small time my Arse. The 4th most valuable football franchise in the world. Behind MANU & Liverpool, the most winningest team in English football history.

      Wenger just getting started laddies. Wait & see.

      • BSMsdsam

        November 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

        Arsenal are all about having a small club mentality

        Celebrate fourth place trophy.

        Celebrate winning and getting knocked out in Munich trophy.

        Great trophy collection

        • dano328

          November 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm

          What cheap shots will you have once that statement is true no longer?

    • dano328

      November 7, 2013 at 10:55 pm

      That celebration was justified because no one thought we could do it. When 90% of your peers tell you “you can’t do that” — then your jubilant when u get to say eff off to everyone, especially pricks like Jamie Redknap who used the tools of the media to start an anti Arsenal campaign. And finishing ahead of Spuds after listening to their trash talk makes it extra special.

      The goals of the club are stated: win the Premiership and or the CL. When we fall short, CL qualification ensures we have another shot. Don’t know if you noticed we just bought “the best #10 in the world” per the Chelsea manager.

  12. Prince Joe from Nigeria

    November 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    This writer is confused, as Chelsea won the CL against Barca with determination, Arsenal did the same to both BM & BD.

  13. MoreLikeBoo-desliga

    November 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I would hope you love fanboys, you wrote this article!

  14. Smokey Bacon

    November 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Next week…..Despite losing World War Two, Germany still had the better army.

  15. KapUSMC

    November 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Arsenal did when good teams do on the road. They defended well, and despite having less of the ball took their chances well. Yes Dortmund is still a better team, but I was really impressed with Arsenal in that game. It seems like Ozil’s presence has given them a sense of confidence that was lacking last year.

  16. lumison14

    November 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    No sure about this , shots do not equate to dominance .Arsenal had more possession than Dortmund in both legs.Being that Arsenal got caught on the counter in the first leg it was only smart to be cautious in Dortmund.
    A. Townsend has the most shots in the Epl but Spurs seem to have trouble scoring goals this year with loads of possession. Sometimes quality of the chances to score matters more. Dortmund is a great side but I believe both ties were in the balance.

  17. Bonnie

    November 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    What an article. Concealed and clothed in bias and hateful judgement. What a writer whose script lacks objectivity. Poor guy may have lost some money on betting.

  18. newctoon84

    November 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    if cazorla had hit the target instead of the crossbar arsenal might have taken the first match. dortmund had their chances in the return fixture but played a less intense league match a day and a half before arsenal did, which reflected on the pitch. bvb comes out of the blocks with intensity but fades as the match wears on and really only won at the emirates bc arsenal committed men forward in an effort to win it when a tie would have sufficed.

    the fact is they split the ties but i guess discrediting arsenal is more convenient for you and most journalists. despite the londoners sitting atop a more difficult league and the ‘group of death’ you resort to petty ungrounded criticism. dortmund had 15 shots but only 3 on target while arsenal had 4 shots, they managed 2 on target. they could have easily scored 1 or 2 more after their goal and shut the HOSTS out for the remainder of the match. your reasoning and statistics reflect a weak grasp of what actually happened to the point that i wonder if you were even watching. poor journalism from someone who probably never played this game at any considerable level.

  19. Dave Highbury

    November 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Whatever mate! We beat them without Pod, Flamini, The Ox, Theo, Jack Wilshire and Diaby – all of whom have either pace or a physical game that would have added PLENTY of distress to Dortmund. Theo just being on the pitch would have pushed their defence into Olivier Giroud’s hands.
    Who was Dortmund missing???
    Ramsey gave them their first goal in the first leg, then we naively gave them the second while pushing for the win by getting sucker – punched. Then in the second leg, we soaked up the pressure more cautiously and busted them in a space of five minutes where we could have scored THREE GOALS.
    p:s an elbow to Koz’s face was a sending off offence, which would have meant 10 men in the first leg, and an absentee in the second.

    • redanddread

      November 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      They were missing Hummels & Gundogan. 2 top players

      • Arjun Niranjan

        November 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

        Piszcek as well

        • dano328

          November 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm

          Flamini (a huge acquisition though free) and an automatic starter when healthy, as is Walcott. Podolski and the Ox. We are kicking on with a bigger injury list than Dortmund. I’m leaving out several names who could make either side if healthy.

  20. Prince Joe from Nigeria

    November 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Whether ur opinon is right or wrong, my take on is that Arsenal knows what they looking for-which is victory against BD.


    November 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Oh and in beating Munich we SHUT THEM OUT, just like what we did to Dortmund-a team that had scored at least one goal in 60 straight games at the Westfalenstadion.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it Mr. Pundit!

    • Arjun Niranjan

      November 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Blackburn SHUT ARSENAL OUT when they came to the Emirates last season in that FA cup tie.

      Blackburn must surely be world beaters!

      • KC

        November 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm

        wow, isn’t that your standard response for everything?


    November 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I actually agree that Dortmund are the better side at the moment but they didn’t completely dominate the 2nd leg. However, whereas Dortmund have little room for improvement, this Arsenal side, missing several attacking options are at least 12 months (and 1-2 top quality additions) away from being the finished article.

    The other thing is that Munich in no way fielded a weakened side. Bastian Schweinsteiger was injured but after that it was their 1st team. The fact that Arsenal are the 1st English team to win at Munich, Dortmund, Madrid, Juventus & Milan should not be overlooked.

    Maybe our win over Munich has been discounted by peabrained pundits like this author but we were still the ONLY team to beat Munich in their backyard last year. Since then we have not lost away from home and lost 3 competitive matches out of nearly 30.

    Nobody has installed them as favourites for the CL, yet. However, one thing this Arsenal side aren’t afraid to do is come into your backyard, whomever you are, and beat you. That is what makes this team a fearsome opponent.

    • Arjun Niranjan

      November 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm


      Leverkusen were the first team to beat Bayern in the Allianz last season, not Arsenal

      • redanddread

        November 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

        Yes u are right here. 2-1 to Leverkusen Oct 2012.

      • Arjun Niranjan

        November 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

        sorry, this response was meant for a different comment

      • Angus

        November 8, 2013 at 4:50 am

        A more telling statistic is no one home or away prevented Munich from scoring in any competition at all all season apart from Arsenal. This includes all their league games even though they had effectively won it with half a season gone and did so mathematically far sooner than in any other top league. Never mind the fact they beat Barca 4-0 and 3-0 over two legs because clearly they had it sown up at 3-1 against Arsenal. They went through on away goals they hadn’t sown up anything, it was far from meaningless.

  23. trugun

    November 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    With regard to your headline. Dortmund were beaten by a smarter more technically gifted team that were very unlucky to have lost the first match. Beating both Dortmund and Bayern on their home grounds says Arsenal are up there with the best!

    • Arjun Niranjan

      November 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Blackburn and Bradford beat Arsenal last season so that must mean that both Blackburn and Bradford are up there with the best…

      according to your logic!

      • trugun

        November 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

        Logic be damned if you had any sense you would realise we are talking abut two totally different Arsenal teams in terms of commitment and application anyone with sense would be aware that the Arsenal of last year would have suffered a heavy defeat but since the win over Bayern we have seen a completely different team emerge. By your logic it seems we should apologise for daring to beat Dortmund LOL.

  24. IIB

    November 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Despite all evidence to the contrary, I kept hoping that the site’s rebranding would bring a long-awaited rise in the quality of the posts. Apparently it didn’t. This article has the depth of a 4th grade English assignment.

  25. Jon Tsang

    November 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    While you make some valid points, I

    • BD

      November 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      …still think your writing has no place here as it’s not objective AT ALL. Finished your sentence for you, Jon.

      P.S. I am NOT an Arsenal fan.

    • Jon Tsang

      November 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      While you make some valid points, I think you really overestimated Dortmund’s performance last night. Neither Arsenal nor Dortmund were special in the 1st half and it was a very cagey game. Yes, Dortmund had opportunities to score, but they didn’t. Once Ramsey scored, it was Arsenal who were slowly becoming the better side and Ramsey nearly scored a 2nd goal. I still think Dortmund are a fantastic side, but Arsenal deserve a lot of credit for their performance. Dortmund may be the better team, but Arsenal are no slouches in Europe either

  26. christian

    November 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Oh Arjun. Keep beating that drum.

    I always thought I was missing something when this site was just about the EPL. Now, I long for those days.

  27. Frank Wilcox

    November 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    great teams find a way to win and get results when needed,only time will tell if this gunners team will succceed!! But you obviously have a hard on against Arsenal,mate!!! so spare me your B S stats!!! Arsenal are a force to be feared,so get over it and get with the program!! you sound like a Spurs fun you dope,the Gunners are back!!!

  28. Glen M

    November 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I understand that this site publishes article by fans. But could you at least publish articles from an objective point of view?

    I never last more than a few sentences when this guy writes an article. It’s just the idiotic ramblings of a person who blindly spouts one point of view. He’s a fool.

    • Christopher Harris

      November 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Glen, we posted a couple of articles last night that were very favorable to Arsenal.

      • Angus

        November 8, 2013 at 4:39 am

        He didn’t say that you don’t publish positive Arsenal articles. He said and quite clearly “could you at least publish articles from an objective point of view?” A point that is perfectly valid in relation to one of the worst articles I’ve seen in a long time. I believe Dortmund are a better side (marginally) which was the premise of this article but so bad was the execution he angered me. The undisguised bias and digs at Arsenal fans didn’t help and should never be included in “sports journalism”. I use inverted coma’s as the writer is no more a journalist than I am a footballer. The only place comments like that are acceptable is in comment sections by fans or a club blog which should be biased.

        • Christopher Harris

          November 8, 2013 at 6:51 am

          Objectivity is in the eye of the beholder.

    • Balboa77

      November 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      I had to look up “jingoistic”, so I plead ignorance on that one… But where did the “chest thumping” come from?

      As for “Arsenal’s meaningless win over Bayern Munich”, did the author even look what that win did for the Gunners confidence?

      • Jon Tsang

        November 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        Meaningless in that Bayern went on to win? Yes. However, it was not meaningless as Arsenal went from 5th to finish 4th place. Also not meaningless in that they won last night again in a tough German stadium.

      • Best

        November 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm

        I think the article is completely bias. In d 1st game d both teams wia fairly even until Carzola came on n from den Dotmond was absent. Arsenal cud av won d match. Rosicky’s shot beat d keeper but was cleared off d line. Carzola beat d Keeper again but hit d bar. Den Dotmond scored on d counter. In d 2nd leg Dotmond wia dominant. Had shots but remember Szchesny only made one significant save from Rues’ header. While they wia pressing, Arsenal scored at d other end n den dominated the game from then. But dis writer just sounded like Arsenal played no part in the match. Is he a spud fan? Only them write dis empty.

    • BVB4life

      November 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      These readers like Glen remind me of Fox News viewers in the US. They just want to be fed the same views over and over again that support what they believe in.

      But god forbid someone comes up with a different point of view, they can’t take it.

      Poor things.

      • Glen M

        November 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

        Another fool.

        I watched the match. I’m not a fan of either team or league. What I say was two evenly matched teams and Arsenal just so happened to win. The same way Borussia did when they went to the Emirates. There isn’t that much separating the two.

        If you paid attention to the articles this clown has posted, you would see that he has one point of view.

        You and he need to broaden your opinions. Or at least educate yourselves more on the sport you watch.

        • Glen M

          November 7, 2013 at 2:53 pm


        • Arjun Niranjan

          November 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

          Before you go around resorting to calling others names, you might want to actually know what the article is about.

          I wasn’t talking about just one game. I was talking about TWO GAMES.
          TWO GAMES, not one game.

          DOrtmund won the first, Arsenal won the second.

          Based on the statistics of both games, I came to the conclusion as to who were the overall better side over the course of the two encounters.

          Read carefully before calling others ‘fool’ when you don’t even read the article. Because really your just fooling yourself

        • Arjun Niranjan

          November 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

          ‘you might want to educate yourselves’

          says the guy who probably thinks using statistics is for analyzing sports is ‘foolish’.

          Just because two teams ‘look evenly matched’ doesn’t necessarily mean that the Stats are irrelevant.

          • Glen M

            November 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm

            Yes, continue to base your opinion on statistics.

          • Angus

            November 8, 2013 at 4:26 am

            You didn’t use stats though did you? You used 1 single stat as a stat man myself it annoys me greatly when people like you misuse them because it justifies the opinion of people who believe stats don’t matter. What about possession, shots on target, shots (not including blocked, dortmunds number reduces), aerial duels, shot accuracy, intercetions, total passes, passing accuracy, tackles, tackle% I could go on. What about analysis of player ratings from one of the sites who take stats from opta and very effectively produce such things. Overall Dortmund have probably been the 2nd best team in Europe this year behind Barca but you did nothing to make that case at all. As to being better than anyone in Europe please name anyone (apart from random over ethusiastic fans) who have said such thing. You won’t because no one said that. This article is drippig with bias the Bayern celebration comment is pure venom there is utterly no reason to include it other than a dig (something that should be reserved for comments not “journalists”)

    • Frill Artist

      November 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Are you an Arsenal fan by any chance?

      • Nutrinelacot00

        November 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        Without doubt an Arsenal fan. Such insecure beings. 8 years without a trophy really hurts. United will do them this Sunday.

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