Arsenal assistant coach Pat Rice insisted his side has proved they are over their poor start to the season after earning a 1-1 draw at Borussia Dortmund in their opening UEFA Champions League clash.
German champions Dortmund needed an 88th-minute equaliser from Croatia midfielder Ivan Perisic to claim a point after Arsenal captain Robin van Persie's first-half strike had put the Gunners ahead in Tuesday's Group F clash.
Arsenal have struggled this season after the sale of captain Cesc Fabregas and playmaker Samir Nasri, while injuries and suspensions culminated in the humiliating 8-2 defeat at Manchester United a fortnight ago. The Gunners picked up only their first Premier League win of the season on Saturday with a 1-0 win over newly-promoted Swansea, but the draw at Dortmund's 65,000 sell-out stadium proves Arsenal are on the way back, claims Rice.
Coach Arsene Wenger was in the stands as he serves a two-match Champions League ban and his stand-in Rice says recent results shows the Gunners' crisis is receding. "It seems Saturday's win over Swansea was the start of the season for us," said Rice, who admitted he missed Wenger on the Arsenal bench.
"Before that there was so much uncertainty with regards to who would leave us and who wouldn't. The players who have come in are quality and I am convinced they will show that over the games to come."
New faces appear
Three of the new signings, midfielders Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun, plus defender Per Mertesacker started against Dortmund, while Andre Santos was on the bench.
Rice insists it is just a matter of time before the new signings find their feet in England's Premier League and the Champions League campaign, especially Mertesacker, who seemed to struggle on occasions against Dortmund. "I thought Per Mertesacker did very well, you can't play as many games for Germany as he has and be a bad player, it is just not possible."
Dortmund are back in the Champions League after an absence of nine years while Arsenal are competing in the tournament for the 14th successive season and the difference in experience showed. The hosts had 22 attempts on goal compared to Arsenal's eight and Rice says his side did very well to leave Germany with a point.
"To defend with such determination is a high quality skill and I don't think many teams will come here and get a result," he said. "Of course, we would have loved to have got the win here, but you can argue a point apiece is a good result."
After his captain Sebastian Kehl was at fault for Van Persie's goal, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp was in philosophical mood. "I was happy with a good performance from Sebastian Kehl, he is just coming back from injury and it was an unlucky situation," he said.
"I told the lads at half-time, even though we were 1-0 down, if we kept playing like we had done, then we would get a good result. I am very satisfied with the overall performance from a young side lacking experience at this level. We played really, really well over 90 minutes: we were cheeky, we were brave and at the end we got our reward."