It was a disappointing day on Wednesday as Arsenal lost 2-1 away to Dinamo Zagreb in what was a morale sapping night for the Gunners. The North London club failed to put in a performance to match their stature and started off their UCL campaign much like how they kicked off the league, with a disappointing loss.
Olivier Giroud managed to get himself sent off in the first half, rendering Arsenal to play at a numerical disadvantage for the majority of the game. Much was expected from Arsenal after being grouped together with Bayern Munich. Dinamo came to the game with a lot of hunger to do well, and boy did they manage to do that!
After the home team’s nerves settled, they began to play with much more composure when on the ball which ultimately resulted in the opening goal of the match. Debuchy stuck too close to the centre backs which meant Pivaric had a clean run through on goal. Ospina made a terrific save from point blank range but the ball unfortunately ricocheted off the Ox into the goal. Giroud got his first yellow for showing his dissent at the referee. He was having a frustrating night, with decisions going against him, chances being missed by him.
Unfortunately, his frustration crept into his play and he made a silly foul for which the ref showed OG his second yellow and then the red. The game then went from bad to worse for Arsenal. Their overall play was uninspiring, with Arteta proving to be a liability paired beside Cazorla at the base of the midfield. Ox was finding it difficult to influence the game and the full-backs were unable to put in a performance to merit the starts they had got after long.
Arsenal started to play with a zip in their passes and a sense of greater urgency when the play resumed after the break. As the commentator correctly noted, they were playing better with ten men than they were with eleven men. Ozil was assuming the role of occupying the central areas, and he put in a deft finish past the keeper, only to be ruled off-side. AW was visibly not happy with many debatable calls of the linesmen. Dinamo scored the second goal against the run of play much to the disappointment of Arsenal who looked like the team most likely to score the next goal.
The match was effectively over when it was 2-0. To their credit, Dinamo defended very well maintaining a compact shape not giving the away team any chance to attack from the central areas. Wenger made 3 changes at once to invigorate the team hoping for an unlikely comeback. They achieved half of it with Walcott, who was looking very dangerous after coming on, slotting home a with a clinical finish which proved only to be a consolation goal in the end.
Everything that could go wrong for Arsenal did go wrong. Olivier Giroud let the Gunners down big time, and the outcome would’ve been very different on another day. It was endearing to see the effort the ten men were putting in. Arsenal cannot afford to waste any time sulking after the loss, as they have a crucial fixture vs Chelsea in an early kickoff this Saturday.
The best way to answer the critics would be with a memorable performance away at Stamford Bridge. Hopefully we’ll get to see a response from the players on the field. On to the next game. COYG!