FULL TIME: Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal
Lewandowski brushes past Vermaelen in the Arsenal area, and claims a penalty, but he's never getting that. And that's that! Aaron Ramsey has scored yet again - will he ever stop? - and sealed a precious victory for Arsenal in this hellishly difficult group! That was a magnifcent performance by Arsene Wenger's side, who soaked up all Dortmund had to throw at them - which was admittedly not that much - then hit them with a sucker punch. After which, they were the bosses of their hosts. They remain top of the group, and as such are now favourites to make it through a very difficult section. Next stop, Old Trafford. Should be some game.
90 min +3: Ozil buys Arsenal precious seconds near the corner flag down the right. Brilliant time management. "I cross-franchised He-man and Playmobile, it was a slaughterhouse," admits Rulf Rolf. "No weapons or muscles, they didnt stand a chance."
90 min +2: Only now do we learn that there will be four added minutes, the assistant referee having been faffing around with the substitutions. Dortmund are reduced to lifting aimless balls into the area. They've dehipstered! The dehipsterisation of Dortmund is complete!
90 min +1: And now Vermaelen for Rosicky.
90 min: Arsenal send Bendtner on for Giroud.
89 min: Corner for Dortmund down the right. Grosskreutz, on the right-hand edge of the box, clips the ball onto the head of Lewandowski, but the big man heads over from six yards in a challenge with Szczesny.
88 min: Dortmund can't get anything going at all. The home fans are suddenly pretty muted. Even the drumbeats are basic four-to-the-floor patterns now.
85 min: Arsenal are sitting back and soaking this up magnificently, breaking occasionally with a view to irritating their hosts. They certainly do that here, Rosicky sliding through Lewandowski's ankles. It should be a booking, but it's not even a foul. Reus jumps around in the animated fashion while discussing the matter with the referee in the full and frank style. It's his last act, as he's hooked for Schieber. Dortmund are slipping into panic mode.
82 min: Dortmund have done very little of late. Weidenfeller has been the more active keeper. Here he has to scamper off his line to get to a ball ahead of Ozil. "When young children, my sister and I had extensive playmobile collections," recalls Will Boud, who is either in a pleasant reverie or sitting in the dark, holding his knees and rocking quite a bit. "Including our favourites: a pair of child figures called Tom (mine) and Toggles (hers). They came with us everywhere, and had many adventures. Sometimes cross-franchising with my Lego set." I can't agree with the cross-franchising. Only because the Playmobil would never stand steadily on Lego floor/carpet/turf. Anyway, I digress.
79 min: The Hartesque Weidenfeller comes off his line to challenge a high ball with Koscielny. Clatter! Some refs would give a penalty for that, you know. As it is, the ball goes out of play on the left, it'll be a Dortmund goal kick, and Arsenal's defender has sore ribs. "This call for pedantry is bound to summon Germans for it seems to be our natural environment," writes Guido Esser. "So: your teamnews is, though lacking any sense but who cares anyway, almost greatly written. Aside of this capital letter triviality, the huge affront was done to the article, being the real trap when exploring the devillish depths of this monster of a language. You either would have to axe the ending 's' of 'Fußballteams' so that it would have been proper neutrsl singular as indicated by the article 'das'. Or could have been gone for 'des' (making it a proper equivalent for your genitive s) or 'die' which would be in this context a neutral plural though elsewhise indicating the feminine form."
"Though lacking any sense but who cares anyway, almost greatly written." I love that. There's the MBMs to a tee. And the "almost" doing an awful lot of work. I'll put that on my CV, perchance my tombstone.
76 min: Sahin attempts to spring Aubameyang into the area, but his pass is hacked clear. Mkhitaryan looks to shoot from distance, but his hoick is nowhere near the goal. "Weidenfeller flaps worse than Joe Hart," opines Jack from Boston. "He should be tested at every opportunity. "
74 min: Dortmund make a double change: Blaszczykowski (thank you, Mr Klopp, pants tattered-fingered MBM hack) and Bender make way for Aubameyang and Hofmann. Arsenal are at it too, swapping Cazorla for Monreal.
73 min: Sahin slides the ball down the left wing for Schmelzer, who wins a corner. Arsenal spring clear in the classic counter-attacking style. Cazorla is found in acres down the left, but with few options in the middle decides to rake a pass to the other wing for Ramsey, who shuttles the ball back so his defenders can play a little keepball. This is impressive stuff from Arsenal.
70 min: Free kick for Arsenal down the left. The ball's swung into the area. Weidenfeller comes out to claim, and doesn't. He's all over the shop! Mertesacker meets with his head, but his looping header rests on the top of the net behind the goal. That wasn't far from dropping in. Arsenal are creating plenty now. This has been brilliant rope-a-dope football so far.
68 min: Playmobil latest, from Adam Kingston. "I owned a Playmobil figure that had a beard, only his beard would pivot on his head, sliding up and down his face as you wished, normal beard position or pushed up over his eyes. I never understood the purpose of a Beard Visor but if I had such a beard I'd be watching this match with it in the visor position."
66 min: Giroud swings a ball into the Dortmund area from the left. Ramsey is suddenly one on one with Weidenfeller! And stop the presses: for once he doesn't score! The keeper hangs a leg out, and it's a corner. From which Giroud nearly finds the bottom left with a sliding shot from ten yards, but Sahin clears off the line. Then Mertesacker nearly connects with a Keith Houchenesque diving header from a right-wing cross. And finally Dortmund sweep up the other end, Schmelzer's shot towards the bottom-left corner rippling the side netting! And here I was moaning about how nothing was happening! This is magnificent entertainment all of a sudden!
64 min: Dortumund have only failed to score once in their last 60 home matches. So I hear. Lewandowski nearly gets his side on terms immediately, dancing in an uptight style down the right before whipping a ball across the face of goal. All Reus has to do is put a foot on it, but he decides to whack the cover off the ball, and takes a preposterous fresh-air swipe. Wow. This game has suddenly burst into life alright!
GOAL!!! Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal (Ramsey 61)
Arsenal haven't had a shot on target yet, and now look at this! Ozil is in a wee bit of space down the right. He loops a cross to the far post, where Giroud just about manages to cushion a header down for Ramsey, who bundles the ball into the net so-o-o-o slo-o-o-o-wly. One effort on target, one goal! What a smash and grab this could be, for Arsenal were really on the rack there!
61 min: The increasingly busy Mkhitaryan scoops a pass into the Arsenal box down the middle. Lewandowski slips the ball left to Schmelzer, who pokes the ball in. But the pair are miles offside.
60 min: A hopeless punt down the Dortmund left. It's whistling away for a goal kick at speed, but Mkhitaryan sticks a toe out and kills it dead. What a takedown! The pull back to Lewandowski isn't up to much, mind, but that took some skill! Liverpool fans will be sighing "if only".
58 min: Schmelzer is down after getting his noggin clattered by the boots of Sagna. Totally accidental, though. After a wee break which Arsenal will be quite happy about, we move on.
57 min: Arsenal have stemmed the flow a wee bit, taking the sting out of the game, breaking it up whenever they can. They'll have a job on getting the locals to pipe down, mind.
54 min: Playmobil's Arteta really is trying it on now. He's upended Reus, 25 yards from goal, just to the left of the target. Reus scores three rugby points. This is most unlike Arteta, he really is on one this evening. "If I'm allowed to be pedantic (and if not then why the eff not?) your German nouns in the team news should all have been capitalised," writes Dan Lucas, making some rash assumptions about levels of interest. "The Eszet was right though, which is rare. Nicely done!"
52 min: Arsenal are living dangerously. Lewandowski slips Mkhitaryan into the area down the right. The resulting low shot is parried out by Szczesny. Reus picks up the loose ball and slapshots it into the left-hand corner from close range, but he was miles offside. This is only a matter of time, surely.
50 min: A ball whipped into the Arsenal area from the right by Bender. Reus meets it with his eyebrows, and it's sailing into the top left at slow motion. Szczesny takes his time to get over, but does so eventually, tipping round for a corner. From which Mkhitaryan, from the edge of the area, has a pop, but it's well over.
48 min: Dortmund stream forward through Sahin, Reus and Blaszczykowski, the move starting down the middle and drifting out to the right. The final ball isn't up to much, but Arsenal were on the back foot there. "That's a short-measure pint," complains Kevin Hamilton, who is barred. Barred!
And we're off again! No changes. "I'm surprised at Arteta's temper," writes Anne Williams. "His hair's so neat he looks like a Lego man. (One of the nice Lego men, not the scary, stubbly-chinned ones.)" Maybe we should stick with Playmobil references, they're all clean-shaven.
HALF-TIME PINT: Print out and enjoy!
HALF TIME: Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Arsenal
That was eye-bleedingly awful. Arsenal won't care, though. They won't care that they've not had a shot on goal, either. They'll happily take a point here. Another half like that, and they'll be heading home happy.
44 min: Grosskreutz is sent free down the right. He's in plenty of space but his cross is straight down Szczesny's gullet. The home fans show a little displeasure. They're used to seeing their team score.
43 min: Some nice syncopations being performed on Crowd Drum at the moment. Lewandowski cuts inside from the left and shoots, but the drums are more interesting. Bap bap bap. B-boom bap bap.
41 min: Lewandowski is booked for a clip on Ramsey's ankles. He can't complain about that, and to be fair doesn't.
38 min: Dortmund should be ahead. Blasczykowski breaks down the right channel and feeds Grosskreutz down the same wing. Arsenal are light at the back, and the ball's rolled inside to Mkhitaryan. He's all alone on the edge of the area, with only Szczesny to beat! But his attempt to gently curve one into the left-hand side of the net is overcooked, and zips wide of the goal. What an escape for Arsenal!
36 min: A visibly irritated Arteta comes through the back of Lewandowski. Only a wee bit, but still. The referee isn't going to book him, but by golly Arteta pushes his patience by performing a little hissy fit. The ref makes do with giving him a long lecture. Given that he's already been booked, he needs to calm, and pipe, down.
35 min: Lewandowski whips a cross into the area with Lewandowski's neep very much in mind. But the striker can't get his head to it, and Mertesacker slices the ball away from danger. Dortmund swing the ball back into the mixer from the left, but Blaszczykowski can't connect and the danger's gone.
32 min: Reus looks like breaking clear down the inside-left channel, but with support coming quickly, he makes a series of wrong decisions, and that is that. Time to report that Napoli are 2-1 up at home to Marseille, who had gone ahead early doors. Inler and Higuain the scorers for the home side on 22 and 24 minutes, Ayew for Marseille on 10.
29 min: Reus pulls Rosicky back as the Arsenal man attempts to break into the Dortmund half down the right. No booking, though you do wonder about consistency in the wake of the Arteta caution. Ozil's free kick, in the vague direction of the area, is hilariously bad. The guy on Sky has just insisted that this is a "high-quality Champions League match", because we're now meant to think about football like chess, or double mathematics, but this is like when ITV used to lie to you in the mid 1980s about 0-0s between West Ham and Newcastle that featured Darren Jackson sliding around the turf on his teeth.
26 min: Grosskreutz is afforded a little space down the right, enough to get into the box and send a pitching wedge of a cross over to Reus, whose effort to sidefoot one into the top right from 12 yards is all off whack. Dortmund are beginning to carve out one or two half chances now, though don't be thinking this game is getting much better, because it isn't.
23 min: Blaszczykowski spins around in the centre circle in the 'Talented' style, but before he can break free of attention, is dragged back by Arteta. The Arsenal midfielder is booked for his trouble.
21 min: Blaszczykowski slips the ball down the inside right for Grosskreutz, who wins a corner off Koscielny. The ball's swung out to the edge of the area on the left, where Schmeltzer decides to have a lash at goal. It's on target, but blocked. It comes back to Schmeltzer, whose second attempt is a woeful slice, albeit one executed in double-quick time.
19 min: Giroud tries to bustle past Papastathopoulos in the industrial-English style. He's penalised. There really isn't a lot going on.
17 min: Arteta is penalised for bundling Reus over down the left. It's totally pointless, and nearly costs his team. The ball's swung in to the far post, where Ramsey, in an attempt to clear, can only head straight back across his own goal. Subotic attempts to guide the ball into the left-hand portion of the net, and he's not a million miles away from doing it, in slow motion, with Szczesny rooted to the spot, as flat-footed as you like. But the ball bounces harmlessly past the left-hand post. The nearest we've come to a goal so far.
16 min: It's all well and good stroking it around the back, but at the moment neither team seems capable of stringing more than two passes together once they eventually decide to spring forward. It's a state of affairs which surely can't last.
14 min: Gibbs and Ozil combine down the left, but the former's dink into the area intended for the latter is too strong, and Weidenfeller comes out to blooter clear.
12 min: Now it's Arsenal's time to stroke the thing around a bit at the back. It's a fairly uneventful start, if we're being honest.
10 min: A bit more space for Rosicky, down the right again. Corner. Arsenal play it short, Ozil eventually swinging one deep to the far post. Weidenfeller comes out to deal with the ball, connecting with a marvellous southpaw swing.
8 min: Dortmund shuttle the ball around this way and that, looking to probe down either wing without much joy. They remain patient, eschewing the pointless attempt at a killer ball. It's moved around again, hither and yon, this way and that. Arsenal can't get out of their own final third at the moment.
5 min: Reus is released into the Arsenal box down the inside right. He slips the ball inside to Lewandowski, who is preparing to shoot when Mertesacker bowls into view and skelps the ball out for a corner. Nothing comes from the set piece, but that was a dangerous move by Dortmund, set off in the first place by Blaszczykowski.
3 min: A bit of space for Rosicky down the right. He cuts inside and tries to set Ozil into the area down the middle, but his diagonal ball skids off the slippy turf - it's been raining a fair bit in this part of the world today - and flies out for a corner.
2 min: Ah, hold on, here we are, they're doing some of that possession stuff now. They stroke it around the back awhile, testing out the properties of the ball, how it reacts to pressure being applied from the side, etc. A rare old atmosphere in the Westfalenstadion, by the way, like that's news.
And we're off! Dortmund get the ball rolling, and hoof it straight out of play miles down the right. No better than Wimbledon '86. What do you think of that, hipsters? Huh?
The teams are out! Dortmund in their famous neon yellow mit schwarzetrim, Arsenal in their Chapmanesque red shirts with white sleeves. Classic looks, these. Pennants are swapped. We'll be off in a minute! "Do make sure to refer to Arsene Wenger's XI as Real Arsenal or La Real; never Arsenal, we don’t want those Sociedad commentators on your back throughout the MBM," quips Michael Kruse, a tinder-dry reference to both tonight's preamble and the slightly unhinged hipster-pedantry on the 18-minute mark of Rob Smyth's Manchester United report last night. Something changed, didn't it.
Of course, the bigger picture, the attempt to ascertain exactly how good The Real Arsenal are, is one thing. Some short-term concerns may trouble Arsenal fans a wee bit more. They're top of Group F as things stand, but if they lose here tonight, they'll be up against it, with a trip to Napoli still to come. They'll be hoping Marseille, hapless Marseille, finally wake from their slumber and take at least a point from their trip to Naples this evening, safety nets and all that. "I hope Arsenal do get out of the group," writes Henry Buckle-Loveless. "It'll be a shame not to have some heroic-losses-in-the-knockout-phases-against-the-eventual-champions this year." Isn't that Barcelona's job usually?
Das fußballteams und fußballteamnews mit fußballrefereedetail
Dortmund replace the hamstrung Mats Hummels with Sokratis Papastathopoulos: Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Papastathopoulos, Subotic, Schmelzer, Sahin, Bender, Blaszczykowski, Mkhitaryan, Reus, Lewandowski.
Subs: Langerak, Kehl, Hofmann, Aubameyang, Kirch, Schieber, Durm.
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs recovers from a hip problem to start: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arteta, Cazorla, Ozil, Rosicky, Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gnabry, Hayden.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)
Palace (a). Chelsea (h). Liverpool (h). Dortmund (a). Man Utd (a). Southampton (h). Marseille (h). Tonight we reach the halfway point in the run of testing fixtures which are supposedly meant to categorically prove whether Arsenal's 2013/14 vintage is fit for trophy-winning purpose. Even if we accept the ludicrous premise - it's barely November, for goodness sake - we've not learned very much yet.
Here's what we haven't learned so far! Arsenal have been informed of their place in the European pecking order by the hipsters' choice,
Peñarol 1949 Borussia Dortmund. They've been told about the depth of their squad, a lecture delivered with extreme prejudice by Chelsea. And they looked worryingly open at the back on occasion against Liverpool, an Achilles heel that will be targeted more effectively by better opponents.
On the other hand: They acquitted themselves pretty damn well against last year's Champions League runners-up and were unlucky to lose late on; they put out half a side against Chelsea in a competition Arsene Wenger has never shown much interest in; and against one of their fellow title pretenders they showcased two moments of extreme goalscoring brilliance, and not for the first time this season either. So in conclusion, Arsenal are either not good enough yet, or are more than good enough already, take your pick.
But if we are going to learn something about Real Arsenal during this run, tonight is the night we should start taking notes. For the team's backbone is going to get a serious stress test over the next five days. A thorough Premier League examination will be undertaken by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, while putting on the pressure again tonight are Dortmund, a side desperate to take another three points off the Gunners in the Champions League Group Of Death That Isn't The One With All The Former Champions In It. If Arsenal come out of these two fixtures badly, we can't in all fairness write them off: there's no shame in losing to the Premier League champs, while excellent old Dortmund won their last home fixture in Europe 3-0. However, if Arsenal can secure a couple of draws, or maybe one or two dream wins, it might finally be time to end the lesson, and conclude that Professor Wenger is onto something. Again.
But again, just to be clear, we might not learn that much. Er. Can we get back to you in February or March?
Kick off: 7.45pm GMT, 8.45pm at the Westfalenstadion.