Long way to go for Gunners

Long way to go for Gunners

Cold, soaking wet and nursing the bitter disappointment of a first defeat since August, Arsene Wenger trudged back to the dressing room.

Happy bloody birthday.

"We can look at only ourselves," he sighed afterwards. "We were not mature enough. We were not at our best."

He was, perhaps, being a little harsh.

Arsenal deserved better than this on Wednesday morning (Singapore time), but since when do teams ever get what they deserve?

Having fallen behind to Borussia Dortmund, one of Europe's most potent attacking forces, the Gunners fought their way back into the game, had the better of the second half and were beaten by a sucker punch, caught on the break by a team they thought they had tamed.

This, sadly, is the difference between the great teams and the sides that are merely very good. When chances are few and far between, they have to be taken. Arsenal wasted their period of domination. Dortmund made them pay.

It was, at least, a progression of sorts.

Last season, this team were annihilated in their own stadium by Bayern Munich. Now they can nearly hold their own against a team almost as strong as the European champions.

The improvement is obvious, but there is still a long way to go.

For all the pre-match talk of an impending "perfect game", the first 15 minutes were a cagey affair where the objective appeared to be simply to accumulate completed passes.

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