Two more goals from Van Persie send Arsenal into the next round as group winners
Doyle will be here from 7.15pm. In the meantime, here's David Hytner's match preview:
Wojciech Szczesny is the cheekiest child in the class. He always has been and, if Arsenal's Champions League press conference before the vital home tie against Borussia Dortmund was any guide, he still is.
When Arsène Wenger answered questions in fluent German, Szczesny, seated alongside the manager, put his chin to his hand, pursed his lips and nodded sagely. And when Wenger spoke of the goalkeeper as being "humble", he performed a comedy double take.
Szczesny has an addiction to mucking around; to stealing scenes and barging on to centre stage. In the recent games at home to Marseille and at Norwich City, when he was on the fringes of the action, he performed Cruyff turns to beat opposing players outside his area. There was the sense that he was merely amusing himself.
The Poland No1 is no barometer of Arsenal's confidence levels, purely because he is always so full of the stuff. He has the priceless ability to shrug off mistakes as if they have not happened. But Szczesny believes that the team's oft-maligned defence has grown collectively in conviction and the foundations are in place for serious progress, which goes beyond the Champions League last 16 qualification that they hope to secure against the German champions.
There has been the feeling that an error is never too far away and the central defender Per Mertesacker proved the point at Norwich on Saturday, when he was at fault for the game's opening goal. Wenger has had to improvise at right-back, in the absence of the injured Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson, while Mertesacker and the left-back André Santos, signed in the summer, are feeling their way into a new football culture. Szczesny, though, pointing towards the fewer goals conceded in recent weeks, argued that the work in progress was coming together.
"I feel the improvement," he said. "We work together on the training ground and it seems to be working during games. We are much more confident, we concede less goals and I hope we can keep it going. We got clean sheets in the last two Champions League games against Marseille and that gives us confidence for Dortmund."
Hello, I'm early. And all because I can't contain my excitement at Apoel Nicosia reaching the knock-out stages. Wouldn't it be a lark if they made it and none of the English teams did? Except maybe Arsenal, who were reputedly on the cusp of an epoch-ending crises just a few months ago but now are the best placed of the Premier League sides to progress. Not that tonight's match will be easy - far from it: Dortmund have recovered from a similarly iffy start to their season and now stand second in the Bundesligas - and beat bayern Muncih away just last weekend. But even a draw tonight could be enough to secure Arsenal qualification if Marseille avoid defeat to Olympiakos in the other game in this group. naturally, Arsene Wenger is fielding the strongest team available to him tonight, with Luarent Koscielny filling in at right-back, where Kevin Grosskreutz will seek to expose his lack of familiarity with the position. Dortmund dangerman, of course, is Mario Gotze. I say 'of course' but I haven't actually seen much of him in action so am looking forward to seeing is he's as good as regular Bundesliga followers tell me.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, André Santos; Song, Ramsey, Arteta; Walcott, Van Persie, Gervinho
Subs: Fabianksi, Diaby, Djourou, Arshavin, Frimpong, Chamakh, Benayoun
Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Felipe Santana, Hummels, Schmelzer; Bender, Kehl; Gotze, Kagawa, Grosskreutz; Lewandowski
Subs: Langerak, Leitner, Blaszdzykowski, Barrios, Gundogan, Owomyela, Perisic
Ref: F De Bleeckere (Bel)
"I saw that Kagawa was doubtful because of a toothache. Is that an actual injury? I guess he's a warrior for fighting through, eh?" snorths Nick White, who presumably has never had a severe toothache: from my experience they definitely put you in the sort of mood that leaves you in danger of earning yourself a red card ... I guess that the only difference with a footballer is that at least their pain is not intensifed by the ensuing dental bill.
How will the local librarians react? There are 7,000 boisterous Dortmund fans in the Emirates tonight and they're already in fine form.
1 min: Dortmund are go. And within 30 seconds they prise the Arsenal defence apart, Kagawa slipping the ball through to top-scorer Lewandoswki, whose touch betrayed him, allowing Szczesny to hurtle off his line to intercede.
3 min: Cracking tempo to the game so far and commendable attacking intent from the visitors, who are flitthing hither and thither in a bid to unhinge the hosts, who have yet to find any kind of groove.
6 min: Chaos in the Arsenal box as Dortmund continue to swarm all over them. Kagawa had a shooting opportunity from 12 yards just now but Lewandowski unwittingly took it off his foot and tried to swivel and shoot (by) himself, only for Mertesacker to put him off. "Can you explain the obsession in Anglo-Saxon football culture with feeling the need to make as much noise as possible and ostracising those who don't?" storms Angus Chisholm, who may or may not go to nightclubs and sit brooding in the corner with a flask of soup. "It's just always seemed like an aimless reach for some kind of perceived authenticity to me."
9 min: Dortmund look sharper, stronger and more inventive than Arsenal so far. The hosts can't cobble together any kind of move. Ominous.
11 min: That's more like it: André Santos clips a cross in from the left and Van Persies peels off his marker to meet it. But the header from 10 yards is too weak to bother Weidenfeller.
14 min: Arteta becomes the latest Arsenal player to have a pass intercepted in midfield. Dortmund really have them flustered. But at least Arsenal have stemmed the flow towards their goal: the game is being played between the boxes at the moment, at a hectic pace.
17 min: Van Persie curls in a corner to Arsenal. Cleared with ease. "Dortmund mate told there are 9,000 fans at Arsenal, another 3,000 without tickets," hollers Jogga Mc via telegram "Telling Uefa standing terrace culture is never dead."
19 min: Another poor delivery from a corner by Van Persie. Meanwhile, a question-cum-quibble from Karl Tulinius. "I'm watching the German broadcast and when they flash the score across the bottom it says: 'Arsenal London 0 - 0 Dortmund.' Does anyone know if Arsenal is always called that in Germany?" And what if they are? It's just a conveniently informative appendage, in much the same way that English papers ofen refer to Glasgow Celtic or Glasgow Rangers.
21 min: Arsenal are beginning to gain the ascendancy. They are enjoying more possession now, spiking the visitors' vim.
23 min: Aargh, this is a pity: Bender has suffered an injury in a collision with (I think) Van Persie and it seems he'll have to be replaced.
25 min: After a long delay while Bender received treatment, he is carried off on a stretcher. On comes Leitner in his stead.
27 min: This is the sort of match where Arteta's one big shortcoming is exposed: his lack of speed means he is struggling to get into the game.
29 min: Another setback for Dortmund: Gotze has now sustained an injury too, and Perisic comes on instead of him. That's two key players down.
31 min: Oh dear. That's a woeful t ouch by Gervinho, spoling a promising move, albeit one that was regularly disrupted by Dortmund's pressing. "Angus Chisolm might have the Anglo-blinkers on when he accuses the need to make noise (it's called atmosphere Angus) of being an aimless reach belonging to the Anglo-Saxons," snarls Eamon Nolan. "Ignoring the argument that it is an aimless reach, which is utterly absurd (you want peace and quiet, go to the movies or a library), I wonder if he's ever heard of South America?"
34 min: Walcott goes on a run. Walcott loses the ball. Meanwhile, Philip Hynes has an answer for Karl Tulinius. "Yes, Arsenal often referred to as Arsenal London on German TV. Also, the league table often features a team called Everton Liverpool."
37 min: To be honest, the highlights of this game so far have been (1) Dortmund's pressing and (2) Dortmund's fans. Word is that many English folks, disillusioned by the high prices and hollow hype of the Premier League, take cheap flights to Germany of a weekend to go watch football there, where the atmosphere is better and the experience more plesant. Are you one of them? Tell us some stories.
40 min: Van Persies threads the ball through to Walcott, who is through on goal ... until he;s pulled back for being offside. In other news, this from Stephen Black. "As I understand it, in Germany you simply can't have a team name that doesn't include the place they hail from + some other word or phrase, although whilst this is written in the statute books or purely convention I know not. I do know that when my team played Leverkusen some years ago the Kommentators etc insisted on calling us 'F.C. Kilmarnock' adding some desperately needed yet wholly undeserved European panache. 'Arsenal' isn't a town or city, hence the need to add London to the name." That seems an anomaly. If the logic of adding a name is to help with geo-location, adding FC to Kilmarnock is useless. Surely they should have been called Kilmarnock Scotland? Or, just in case that still doesn't help less aware viewers, Kilmarnock Just North of England.
43 min: Strong play by Arteta in midfield, to receive the ball and turn past two players. But then the iommaculate Hummels reads his intentions and intercepts his attempted pass to Walcott.
44 min: Schmelzer (was that the name of the barmy general in Blackadder Goes Forth?) lets fly from distance, Szczesny saves comfortably.
45 min: Lovely tantalising cross from the right by Walcott, cut out in extremis by the diving keeper.
Half-time: It's be an intriguing, if largely incident-free first half. Finely-poised and worth sticking around for. And now, an interesting pointer from Jogga Mc: "There is a bvb supporters club from Dover already. They travel each fortnight, spend around €100 for travel and standing. Tickets still go for €15 on matchdays with 25,000+ terrace no hassle. www.schwatzgelb.com is an English-speaking fanzine." Check it out.
Other football adventures:
"I took a very moderately priced flight to France and took in a PSG game," reports Mister Justin. "This was before they had their oil money and before the club dismantled the Ultras Boulogne. It's well known that the two ends in the stadium are attended by fans that hate each other... but the noise! My God, it felt like a wall of sound was sitting on my head. And the two ends were shouting as much to each other as to the opponents. Incredible stuff. Not Germany though..."
"I think there's an interesting and sad point behind Angus' anti-chanting tirade. Chants belong to terraces, solidarity, to standing up and having some fun. There's generations of supporters who, if they support a Big Club, won't have ever stood on a terrace. And where else do you sing sitting down? Church! Hence the cloistered atmos at places like OT, the Etihad and the Emirates. Bring back terraces!" - Harry Tuttle
Two points of order: many of you have written into suggest that Philip Hynes is talking - I quote - "absolute bollocks" by claiming that German media refer to Everton Liverpool. Many of you have also pointed out that English media continually refer to Sporting Lisbon even though the city is not in the club's official name (although, interestingly, the country is - Sporting Club de Portugal - which means that this is an example of commentators refining an existing geographic reference rather than merely adding one where none previously existed)
46 min: We have resumption. Meanwhile, Philip "Absolute Bollocks" Hynes has got back in touch to make another claim. "Years of silence and then two emails within minutes. Anyway..... I am one of those fans. I, and many others from the UK, go to watch Schalke. We have a thriving UK Fanclub which has over 80 members here and a lot more in Germany, a twitter account with 1700+ followers and two websites. The fans in Germany are so much more up for the occasion than they are in England - there they are a huge part of the occasion, so often over here they are just observers. Plus it's mostly much cheaper ,for example it costs me €15 to watch Schalke from the Nordkurve - what level of football in England can I do the same? Conference? You can stand up, sing your heart out, drink beer whilst in full view of the pitch and even have a cigarette if you're so inclined.All in superb stadiums. Once bitten by the Bundesliga bug you can never accept the waffle spoken about the Premier League." Are Schalke the only Bundesliga team not to include their city in their name?
47 min: Dortmund start with the same dynamic threat that they began the first half and André Santos was not alive to it at all. Perisic and Grosskreutz beat him easily with a straightforward one-two before the latter send in a low cross that Mertesacker had to put behind for a corner. Which came to nothing.
48 min: Dortmund are through again! Lewandowski pokes the ball through to Kagawa, who dashed into the box and, from a tough angle, fired at Szczesny, who gathered the ball at the second attempt. Arsenal, meanwhile, have yet to muster a shot on target.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Dortmund (Van Persie 49') Superb play by Song, who wriggled past three players down the left and served Van Persie a delicious cross. The keeper got his hand to the Dutchman's powerful downward header from six yards - but couldn't keep it out.
53 min: Van Persie sweeps a fine pass out to Gervinho, who hares towards the box and then ... slows down to allow a tackler to dispossess him.
55 min: Leitner sends one for Lewandowski to chase. He does so ... and, upon reaching it, smashes a token shot well wide.
57 min: For those of you who care, the other match in this group is Marseille 0-0 Olympiakos.
60 min: Oh Gervinho! Ramsey prodded the ball past the last defender to set the Ivorian racing through. He rounded the keeper put sought to take an extra touch and that gave Felipe Santana time to recover and poke the ball behind for a corner.
62 min: Walcott squares up to Schmelzer after being jostled off the ball. He gts a booking despite Schmelzer not looking in the least bothered. Reckon he'd have been quivering if faced with Theo's sister, mind. "I'm following your MBM on Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund and I have a remark about the ongoing discussion on mentioning football teams with "city names" in German," bellows Manuel Reimers. "It's not about geo-tagging, it is simply about defining a team. Arsenal or Celtic may be household names to English viewers but not necessarily to German ones, unless they are real football fans. Think of it the other way around: every football fan in Germany knows who 'Hertha' or 'Werder' are - and we normally refer to these teams without adding the location - but would your average English viewer know where these teams are from? Don't you say 'Hertha Berlin' as well?"
65 min: Corner to Boussia Dortmund Germany Europe after a 25-yard freekick is deflected fractionally over the bar.
67 min: Walcott chagres down the wing shoiwing a level of urgency that suggests his sister has threatened to beat him up if he doesn't score, and then blems one wide from 18 yards. Uh-oh. "Having been a regular follower of MBM since 2005, today is the first opportunity for me to throw in some knowledge about the German Bundesliga," warbles Klemens Hoffman. "Actually, Schalke is a place name (it's a disctrict of the much larger city of Gelsenkirchen), thus they are NOT the only team not to include their city in their name. This title goes to Hertha BSC (from Berlin) where the BSC doesn't give away the 'Berlin' reference at first glance." But the B does stand for Berlin, right? We'll have none of this "first glance" nonsense, you charlatan!
70 min: Walcott wins deeps in his own half and supplies Ramsey, who sends Van Persies clear ... but the Dutchman had gone too early, and is called back for offisde. Meanwhile, for those of you thinking of following a Bundesliga team, Sebastian Welton has a very good reason to choose Schlake (but f irst wants to get a quibble off his chest). "OK, so Schalke is only a district of Gelsenkirchen but they're still named after where they're based. As a point of interest, underneath the stadium there are huge beer tanks which are full of their sponsors beer. When there are national matches this has to be replaced with the sponsor of those matches beer so everyone in the town turns up with cannisters and gets a few litres of free beer. Do they do that at Everton?"
73 min: Van Persies: is there anything he can't do? He's just headed a vicious Dortmund corner clear. Elsewhere, this from Ed Shelton. "I'm following the mbm in Valparaiso Chile where tonight Universidad de Chile face off against Vasco de Gama from Brazil in the semis of the Copa Sud Americana having beaten 'Arsenal' to get there. Only German viewers would know that the Arsenal in question hail from Argentina not from Holloway Road."
74 min: Arsenal substitution: Benayoung on for Gervinho.
77 min: Ramsey and Benayoun booked within minutes of each other, the latter for slightly late tackle. "Surely SC Vorwärts Wacker is the only German football club at all not to even have a place name in its official name?" howls Phil Woolf. "Consider the gauntlet thrown down for other MBMers, just 13 minutes to prove me wrong..."
80 min: Dortmund are willing but they can't find a way as Arsenal keep them at bay.
83 min: Koscileny has been good at right-back. Now it's up to Djourou to see if he can be too.
85 min: Arteta's freekick is delfected behind for a corner. And on that note, Walcott is replaced by Diaby, who thereby makes his first appearance of the season. "The best example in Europe is Internazionale who do not have the word Milan in their name," informs Laura Agostini, who better tell that to the folks who run the Inter website.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Dortmund (Van Persie 86') Arsenal score thanks to a good old-fashioned near-post flick-on from a corner! Vermaelen got the nod, Van Persie swept it into the net from close range.
89 min: It's plain sailing for Arsenal now but the denouement of this group will still be interesting, with Olympiakos currently leading 1-0 at Marseille. "Further to 'Absolute Bollocks' point, I recently went to Dortmund vs Koln," recalls Roiger Wild. "Fantastic atmosphere (80,000+), great stadium, a real thrill. I've been to lots of UK games over the years, nothing like it at home I'm afraid. Going back to Germany in March and have another Dortmund game already penciled into my sched." Sched, folks, sched. There goes a proper hipster.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Dortmund (Kagawa 90+2) Song and Djorou get in a muddle in the right back position and Dortmund nick the ball and cross swiftly, leaving Kagawa to plant it into the net from close range.
Full-time: Arsenal London are the first English side into the last 16 and they deserve it. As group winners, to boot. Despite a tough start and conceding with the last kick of the game, Arsene Wenger's team were the btter side here. Thanks for all your interesting and fun emails. Please come again.