Sanogo cheers Arsenal but injuries take the sheen off win
Striker finally nets for the Gunners after 18 months, but every silver lining has a cloud
Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: The gloom that has settled over the Emirates recently was lifted just a touch on Wednesday night as Arsenal booked a place in the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the 15th year running.
A first senior goal for striker Yaya Sanogo, 18 months after he joined the club, and the 13th of the season for Alexis Sanchez, who has been at the Emirates for four months, were enough to sink Borussia Dortmund and provide the Gunners with a morale-boosting win. A clean sheet, Arsenal's seventh in 21 games this term, would also have been welcome given recent criticism of the side's "kamikaze" tactics.
"As infuriating as their supporters find it at times, Arsene Wenger found himself marvelling last night at Arsenal’s consistency," says Oliver Kay of The Times. "And now thoughts turn to whether they can do more than make up the numbers in the knockout stage."
The significance of the win "depends whether you are inclined to judge this Borussia Dortmund team on their standards over the past few seasons or on their alarming drop in form over recent weeks", writes Kay, who says the German team looked a "pale imitation" of the team that beat Arsenal earlier in the season.
The game may chiefly be remembered for Sanogo's first Gunners goal. The young French striker has become a "one-man emblem of congealment and capped ambition" for Arsenal fans, notes Barney Ronay in The Guardian. He was bought on a hunch in the summer of 2013 and over an injury plagued and goal-free 18 months has developed into a symbol of "the goatishness and eccentricity of late-Wengerism".
"His goal not a vindication of his manager's transfer policy or an enduringly lopsided squad, but of his own determination and courage on a huge occasion for him personally," says Ronay. And others are quick to point out that Arsenal still have plenty of problems, chief among them a dire injury record.
"Many problems remain at the club, and with elements of Wenger’s purist philosophy," says Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph. "The main negative was the return of the injury curse, claiming Sanogo, who departed rubbing his left hamstring, and Mikel Arteta, who hobbled off with a calf problem."
So, as is often the case for Arsenal these days, every silver lining has a cloud. With Arteta likely to be "out for a while", Jack Wilshere sidelined with an ankle injury and Abou Diaby still hanging around the Emirates treatment room, much will depend on the fitness of Mathieu Flamini in the coming weeks, with the Gunners now threadbare in all defensive departments.