Fredrik Ljungberg proved manager Arsène Wenger right with his goalscoring return from injury
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger admitted that he had taken a chance on playing Fredrik Ljungberg in Arsenal's 2-0 Group A UEFA Champions League victory over BV Borussia Dortmund at Highbury, but believed he was vindicated by the Swedish international's impressive goalscoring return after a lengthy injury lay-off.
'Stronger and stronger'
Ljungberg had played just 70 minutes of reserve team football since undergoing hip surgery after the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but the midfield player soon adapted to the pace of the game, and capped a remarkable performance with Arsenal's second goal on the break with 13 minutes to go. "It was a gamble, but all the medical tests showed that he was physically ready," Wenger said. "Freddie is a fighter and a winner. Ljungberg became stronger and stronger as the match went on. He lacked a bit of game practice, but picked it up through the game."
Pass the test
The return of Ljungberg, who was a vital part of Arsenal's double-winning side last season, was a timely boost for an Arsenal side looking to make their mark in Europe. After failing to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League last season, Wenger knows the Premiership champions have a lot to prove in Europe, and believes that they showed a new maturity in Tuesday's victory. "We showed great teamwork and discipline," he said. "I liked the game because it was a real test both in a football sense and mentally."
'Patience is key'
Arsenal were made to wait until 17 minutes into the second half before Dennis Bergkamp's deflected strike broke the deadlock, and Wenger was delighted with the application his side showed in the face of a resolute Dortmund defence. "Patience was the key," Wenger said. "I always felt we could win the game. In the second half all the football was played in their half of the pitch."
Solid at the back
David Seaman in the Arsenal goal was not tested until Dortmund had fallen two goals behind, and with Sol Campbell and Martin Keown in commanding form in the centre of defence, the Arsenal manager can look ahead to next week's trip to PSV Eindhoven with confidence. "I believe that the good sign tonight is that we didn't concede goals," Wenger added. "We are more solid at the back. The fact that we didn't concede a goal makes me more optimistic about our chances."
Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer has suffered a frustrating start to the season. The 1. Bundesliga champions are already six points off the pace set by FC Bayern München and defeat at Highbury was the latest setback in a season that has seen Dortmund pick up just one win in five league matches. "We need to concentrate on the Bundesliga on Saturday," Sammer said. "We need to remain calm about this result and concentrate on our next matches."