Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Player Ratings: Alex Song, Wojciech Szczesny Shine

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Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Player Ratings: Alex Song, Wojciech Szczesny Shine
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Wojciech Szczesny: Outstanding again

It could have been three, but in the end Arsene Wenger was happy to settle for one.

Of course, I'm talking about points and goals conceded.  Borussia Dortmund had Arsenal under the cosh for the most part last night, and were both lucky and unlucky to come away with a draw. They were lucky because of the timing and quality of their goal and unlucky because they could and should have scored a few more.

Arsenal were missing Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen from their strongest possible starting 11.  Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby were out too.  Let's take a quick look at how those that did play coped with what Dortmund threw at them.

Wojciech Szczesny:  Another assured, stand-out performance from a player I hope will be Arsenal's number one for the next 15 years.  His handling and distribution were good, he commanded the area like none of Arsenal's other keepers can and he made at least two crucial saves, one of them a brave interception in injury time.  No goal keeper in the world could have saved Ivan Perisic's inch-perfect strike, so Szczesny won't be getting any blame for that.  Safe hands, once more.  8/10

Bacary Sagna:  By far Arsenal's most reliable defender over the past four seasons, Sagna was solid at the back and eager going forward.  He made a crucial goal line block off Robert Lewandowski in the first half, and thwarted the threat of danger-man Mario Gotze when he played on Dortmund's left.  Another good day at the back for Bac.  8/10 

Per Mertesacker:  Mertesacker looked much better against Dortmund than he did against Swansea.  That is probably due to two things: better coordination with his teammates and the slower pace of this game.  His lack of pace does worry me sometimes, but Tony Adams and Steve Bould weren't exactly Usain Bolt.  The German will keep improving the more he plays and I can't wait to see him and Vermaelen pairing up.  7/10 

Laurent Koscielny:  The man who will want to break that pairing up is Koscielny, and he had another eye-catching performance last night.  Some suspect first half distribution aside, he was outstanding throughout the game.  Quick, brave, decisive—all positive adjectives for a defender. That was Laurent Koscielny last night.  8/10  

Kieran Gibbs:  Easily Arsenal's most disappointing player against Dortmund.  It was almost poetic justice that he provided the "assist" for their goal.  Careless in possession, casual in distribution, semi-committed on defense.  Kieran Gibbs was even worse than he was against Swansea.  At this rate, Andre Santos will be Arsenal's first-choice left back fairly soon.  3/10 

Alex Song:  My man of the match, without a doubt.  Alex Song was quite simply immense.  In a performance that might go down as his best ever for Arsenal, Song was everything, everywhere. He provided an ideal shield to his back four, tracked back consistently, was disciplined in position and in possession and made three or four vital (and clean) tackles in the second half, all in dangerous situations.  If he can reproduce similar form night after night, there won't be a better holding midfielder than him in the Premier League.  9/10 

Mikel Arteta:  Arteta's performance wasn't half as eye-catching as it was effective.  He showed his experience on a number of occasions, trying to play Arsenal out of trouble by retaining possession.  He could not do much on the creative side of things, but showed his Premiership pedigree by putting his body (and his head) on the line for the team.  He still hasn't completely settled into his new team, but it is worth remembering that his Arsenal career is only two games old.  He will be massive this season.  7/10

Theo Walcott:  Theo had a largely anonymous night, but the one time he got involved, he stamped his influence all over the Westfalenstadion.  Picking up Robin van Persie's interception, he ran at the Dortmund defense before playing a wonderful through ball to his captain, which RvP put away in some style.  Walcott continues to frustrate, though, drifting from the sublime to the ridiculous on a nightly basis.  5/10 

Yossi Benayoun:  Benayoun was a victim of wrong selection. In my opinion, he wasn't ready to start, certainly not in a somewhat defensive central midfield position.  He was guilty of giving the ball away too often, especially in the first half, and was much too lightweight to adequately support the holding midfield position.  4/10

Gervinho:  His most disappointing performance in an Arsenal shirt.  Gervinho was full of his usual energy, and ever-willing to run at opposition defenders.  But he took things a little too far in the first half.  I counted at least four occasions when he tried to force his way through a group of five or more Dortmund defenders, each time unsuccessfully.  I can attribute some of this to his domestic ban—which is thankfully over—but he will do well to watch and learn from Arteta's nous. 6/10

Robin van Persie:  He took his goal exceptionally well but, in fairness, you would expect a striker of his pedigree to score when one-on-one with the keeper.  What I particularly liked about the skipper's performance was his dedication to the cause, his energy and the fact that he led by example.  It was van Persie's interception that led to Arsenal's goal, and in an all-action display, I clearly remember one occasion in the second half when I saw him in the left back position, preventing a cross while the lazy Gibbs was out of position. That's what you want to see from your captain.  8/10   

Substitutes:  Andre Santos and Marouane Chamakh barely played five minutes.  Emmanuel Frimpong was solid and full of energy, and should have played from the start.

All in all, a fantastic point at the home of the defending Bundesliga champions.  I think it's entirely daft to suggest that it was a poor result for Arsenal.  Very few teams will go to Dortmund this season and come away with a win.  They're not German champions for nothing, and from the player ratings, you can clearly see that we had to defend a lot more than we attacked.  

Another step on the road to recovery for Arsenal, and may there be many more.

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