Arsenal 3 - 1 Olympiacos
After an impressive defensive display at Montpellier, Arsenal faced the Greek champions at home, who were ready to test their resolve. On the back of a poor display against Chelsea, Arsenal had a point to prove.
Arsenal began the game in stellar fashion, dominating the possession and passing the ball well. Coquelin was filling in for the injured Diaby, and was struggling to settle. Most of his passes went astray, and the game seemed to be passing him by. Arteta and Cazorla pulled the strings beautifully, bringing in the wide players and full backs.
Carl Jenkinson & Kieran Gibbs have been excellent for us so far this season, and they didn’t disappoint against the Greek champions. Their typically solid defensive display was yet again accompanied by surging runs and searching crosses. Kieran Gibbs in particular is having a superb start to the campaign. Long may it continue.
As the first half played out, we retained possession well, but our chances were few and far between. Gervinho, who was leading the line, was making minimal runs and failing to hold up the ball to bring Oxlade Chamberlain or Podolski into play. frustration was setting in.
However, just as an attack was seemingly breaking down, the ball fell to Gervinho outside the box, who took a touch into space and drilled it across the goalkeeper. The shot wasn’t the best, but it was enough. One nil.[quote_right]”Girouds movement and aerial ability were clearly the missing ingredient during the earlier stages of the game, where our penetration was found to be non-existent.”[/quote_right]
Things were looking rosy again, as half time approached, we were a goal to the good and possession was ours when we wanted it. But Arsenal never make it easy for themselves.
Minutes before the half time whistle, poor defending from the midfield saw Olympiacos pick their way through, swinging in a very good cross. Vermaelen rose, but the striker Mitroglou won the header, guiding it away from the helpless Mannone. Lead, lost.
The second half commenced in similar fashion. Coquelin began to relax on the ball, and was winning some good challenges. Vermaelen & Koscielny, (who was filling in for the sick Mertesacker) were noticeably shaky at the back. Snatching at tackles and being reckless in general.
We continued to show no attacking guile. Gervinho was taking extreme first touched, and failing to lead the line with any real purpose.
That is of course, until he jigged his way past a defender in the box, and passed to Podolski, who slammed the ball through the goalkeepers legs to put us into the lead yet again. A powerful finish from an excellent player. Now we just had to hold on to our lead.
Giroud & Walcott were introduced in place of Gervinho & The Ox, and the change was immediately noticeable. Walcott made excellent runs down the wing, and nearly found Thomas Vermaelen for a third. Girouds movement and aerial ability were clearly the missing ingredient during the earlier stages of the game, where our penetration was found to be non-existent.
We were absorbing the Olympiacos attacks well enough, and moving forward at speed thanks to Cazorla & Arteta, who worked tirelessly. The second half was winding down, as Ramsey was subbed on for Gervinho.
Just as the game was coming to a close, a long ball over the top was headed forward by Giroud, who found Ramsey. He drove into the box and delightfully chipped it over the goalkeeper. A sublime goal, and a convincing victory.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Couldn;t do much about the headed goal, but his distribution was extremely poor all game.
Fast becoming one of our most consistent players. Still makes unnecessary long ball passes, but is improving rapidly.
Back to his old self after a disappointing performance against Chelsea. Intercepting passes with ease and driving the team forward. Got into the box on a few occasions and nearly scored from a Theo Walcott cross.
Made a few rash challenges and was rightly booked. Looks relatively shaky and needs to settle himself if he wants to challenge Mertesacker.
Another suberp game from Gibbs. patrolled the left wing and swung crosses into the box. Outstanding start to the season.
Wasn’t able to settle during the first half, but found his feet. Managed a few good challenges, but needed to do more.
The best passer in Europe was once again fantastic as he dictated play. Helped both Coquelin & Cazorla out when needed.
MOTM. Quick feet and accurate passing were the key to his great game. Noticeably targeted by Olympiacos, and dealt with the pressure perfectly.
Helped Gibbs when needed, and looked a threat all game. Took his goal well and helped the team as per usual. Subbed.
A real enigma. Despite scoring and grabbing an assist, Gervinho’s overall game was extremely poor. His first touch, vision and hold up play were all lacking. but a goal is a goal, and an assist is an assist. Subbed.
The Ox: [6.5/10]
Linked up well with Jenkinson, but failed to make any real impact, and I’d be surprised to see him start ahead of Walcott for the next game. subbed.
Giroud [6.5/10], Walcott [6.5/10], Ramsey [7/10]
[title]Bring On Schalke[/title]
With six points out of six, we sit comfortably at the top of Group B. Schalke tail us with 4 points after drawing with Montpellier. After two solid defensive displays against Montpellier and Olympiacos, I feel we’re ready for the biggest challenge of the group, which awaits us in the Germany. Bring it on.
However, before that, we have to deal with West Ham this weekend before we return to our European aspirations.
Who was your Man Of The Match? Let us know in the comments section below.