London, by – Steven Griffiths (AFP)
Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta insists his side will learn the lessons of their painful loss against Manchester United when they take on Borussia Dortmund in a crucial Champions League clash on Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger’s side need a draw against Group D leaders Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium to be sure of joining the German club in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition.
But a defeat could leave Arsenal needing a result in their final fixture — in an extremely hostile environment at Galatasaray — to avoid being eliminated at the group stage for the first time in 15 seasons.
Given Dortmund have already beaten Arsenal 2-0 in the group stages this year and won 2-1 at the Emirates at the same stage last term, there is every reason for Arteta and company to be concerned — especially since Arsenal’s 2-1 home defeat against United on Saturday condemned the team to their worst start to a season since 1982.
Arsenal’s failure to convert a series of chances to kill off United was a major frustration, but Spanish midfielder Arteta is confident they will make amends against Dortmund.
“We will have to analyse what we did wrong to lose the game, but if we played 10 times like this against Man United, then we would win nine and draw one,” the Spaniard said.
“The fans have seen both the quality and the determination which the team played with, so we say sorry, we tried our best, but it was not our day – (next time, the team) just have to put the ball in the net.”
There were, though, signs of a growing discontent among some Arsenal fans after their second successive defeat in a season which has seen them collect only four Premier League wins, while they squandered a three-goal lead in a 3-3 draw against Anderlecht in their previous European fixture.
– Heated exchange –
United substitute Darren Fletcher was involved in a heated exchange with fans behind the opposition bench following his team’s opening goal, when objects, including red wine, were reportedly thrown at the visitors as they celebrated.
A few Arsenal fans also held up A4-sized placards calling for Wenger’s dismissal, which were quickly confiscated by club stewards.
With so much negativity surrounding the club, Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has warned his side not to take qualification for granted.
“We know that we only need one point from our last two matches to qualify for the last 16, but we know that we have not made it yet,” said Szczesny, who faces a race to be fit for the Dortmund game after suffering an injury that forced him off against United.
“We are all ready to bounce back against Dortmund on Wednesday and hopefully get a place in the last 16.”
Should Arsenal beat Jurgen Klopp’s side, and the Germans then lose at home to Anderlecht on matchday six, there is an unlikely scenario which could see them go through as top seeds and so avoid the likes of Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the knockout stage.
Despite their 100 percent record in Europe this season, Dortmund have already lost seven times in the Bundesliga this season and a 2-2 draw with Paderborn at the weekend left them one point off the bottom of the German league table.
To make matters worse, Dortmund will be without Marco Reus until the new year after the forward suffered ankle ligament damage against Paderborn
Yet Szczesny maintains Arsenal should not read too much into Dortmund’s sluggish form.
“I am really surprised how much Dortmund have been struggling in the Bundesliga this season. Especially when you look at their results in the Champions League this season, they have won every single game comfortably,” he said.
“But I still think they are going to do well as they are such a good side.”