Old master Arsene gives young pretender Jurgen a Klopp round the ears
Arsene Wenger’s obituary writers will have to hold fire for a little while longer.
The Gunners Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund tonight had been billed as an audition for Jurgen Klopp to show Arsenal he is the man to replace Wenger.
The old King though showed he still has some fight left, as Arsenal beat Dortmund to 2-0 to confirm their qualification to the last 16 of the competition.
You sensed it was going to be Arsene’s night when the much maligned Yaya Sanogo scored his first competitive goal for the Gunners.
The striker making his first start since August held the ball up in the second minute from a throw-in, played a back-heel to Santi Cazorla and stroked the return pass through the legs of Roman Weidenfeller.
Alexis Sanchez added a second goal soon after the restart to see off the Group D leaders and keep alive Arsenal’s hopes of overtaking them in the final round of games.
Sanogo almost scored again when Aaron Ramsey played him through, but he lost control of the ball and the eventual shot was deflected away from goal by Matthias Ginter.
As with the match on Saturday against Manchester United the Gunners played some incisive attacking football, with Cazorla dribbling clear on the right and playing in a cross towards the head of Per Mertesacker. But the Dortmund defence managed to scramble it behind for a corner.
Dortmund threatened for the first time when Lukasz Piszczek’s low ball across the six-yard box just evaded the foot of Ciro Immobile.
Emiliano Martinez then had to turn Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s close-range attempt around the post for a corner.
The Gunners began the second half on top, with Alexis running through the Dortmund defence before shooting low and hard, but Weidenfeller did well to turn the ball around the post.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then showed superb control to bring down Alexis’ pass and beat the keeper with a shot that bounced off the crossbar and to safety.
Alexis then got the second goal Arsenal’s play deserved in the 57th minute, collecting Cazorla’s pass and curling the ball past Weidenfeller into the far corner of the net.
Dortmund rarely threatened the sort of comeback that Anderlecht mounted in the last Champions League game at the Emirates.
Kevin Grosskreutz shot wide, while Martinez saved low from Ilkay Gundogan.
So Arsenal go into the last round of group matches with an outside chance of topping the group, but with qualification secured it makes the trip to Galatasaray less daunting.
Whilst Arsene Wenger gets a stay of execution on having to answer questions about his future – well at least until the next defeat!
Arsenal: Martinez 7; Chambers 7, Mertesacker 7, Monreal 7, Gibbs; 7 Arteta 7 (Flamini 67), Ramsey 6; Oxlade-Chamberlain 8 (Campbell 90), Sanchez 7, Cazorla 7; Sanogo 8 (Podolski 79).