Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal: Paul Merson criticises 'poor' defeat

Silverware could be beyond Arsene Wenger's side, says Sky Sports pundit

Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski
Image: Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski show their frustration on a bad night for Arsenal

Paul Merson says Arsenal will struggle to win trophies this season if they continue to perform as they did against Borussia Dortmund.

Arsene Wenger's side endured a disappointing start to their Champions League campaign in Germany as goals from Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw the 2013 finalists run out comfortable 2-0 winners.

Dortmund mustered 23 shots on goal compared to just one for Arsenal and Merson was alarmed by the frailties throughout the side.

“It was poor, simple as that. They were well beaten all over the pitch from one to 11,” he said.

“They got closed down, they weren’t allowed to play and they let the other team play. You could turn around and say Danny Welbeck could have had a hat-trick because he had three good chances, but Dortmund had nine or 10 good chances. That’s not good enough, not for Arsenal.

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Graeme Souness analyses Arsenal's defensive frailties against Borussia Dortmund.

“We were sitting here beforehand saying they could win the league… but watching that they were a ‘gillion’ miles away from anything.

“Something has to change because this happens at least four times a season. This is not a one-off; this happens four or five times a season.”

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Speaking after the game, Arsene Wenger struggled to explain the below-par display, but argued fatigue might be a factor as the match came three days after a crunch Premier League clash against Manchester City.

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Following an 'average' display away in Dortmund, Arsene Wenger believes his lack of defensive options affected his side's performance.

Young defender Hector Bellerin made his debut following injuries to Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy, but Merson said Arsenal should have assembled a squad that can fight on all fronts.

He said: “No excuses. I know they had a hard game on Saturday, of course they did, but if you’re going to win the Champions League, that’s the nature of it.

“In Premier League football you play on Saturday or Sunday and then you play on Wednesday. That’s the way it is and the way it has been for the last how many years. I thought they were well off the pace.

“I wouldn’t say it was the defensive absentees because it wasn’t their fault in my opinion. They were left exposed with no protection. I don’t care if you’re Maldini, one of the best ever, if people run at you left, right and centre it’s going to be very hard to defend. I don’t make any excuse for that.

“They’ve probably got about 11 midfield players at Arsenal and they’re all roughly about the same. There’s nothing really different. You can reel them off: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil… they are all players that are exactly the same.”

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