Arsenal 2-1 Olympiacos: Analysis & Video Highlights

By on September 29, 2011

Szczesny, Gibbs, Song, Mertesacker, Sagna, Frimpong, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky (C), Arshavin and Chamakh lined-up in a much changed Arsenal side.  Robin Van Persie was only named on the bench, likely due to Sunday’s crucial North London Derby. Olympiacos started Constanzo, Mellberg, Marcano, Torosidis (C), Ibagaza, Fejsa, David Fuster, Holebas, Orbaiz, Djebbour and Mirallas as they attempted to gain their first win in England.

After the game drifted early on, Arsenal sprung into life in the 8th minute; a lofted pass from Song was controlled well by Chamberlain, who then calmly strode past a defender and slotted the ball past Constanzo.  However, Arsenal failed to push on from this goal and Olympiacos dominated the next five minutes; only a fantastic block on the line by Arteta kept the Gunners ahead.

Arsenal then settled down again, but it was still slightly against the run of play when they doubled their lead; Andre Santos had a cross blocked, before the Brazilian beat the hapless Constanzo at his near post from the rebound. At this point Arshavin had failed to get into the game and had not had a meaningful touch – his lazy attitude did nothing to help him. Chamberlain, per contra, had been excellent, providing quality crosses for others to try and feed off;  the England under21 international was Arsenal’s greatest threat for the remainder of the first half.

Arsenal then seemed to lose concentration and Olympiacos were back on top and controlling the game.  Time and again the spaces in front of and behind the Arsenal defence were exploited.  Eventually the Greek side earned a corner and when they took it short only Chamberlain was alive to the danger – this was especially poor as the majority of the set pieces were taken in this manner.  He was then left helpless as they took advantage of their two-on-one, before crossing it in to David Fuster who took advantage of being unchallenged and headed past Szczesny.

Olympiacos then applied real pressure to test the Arsenal defence who, although they didn’t concede, were far from passing with flying colours.  The only respite was provided by Mertesacker who put in a few big clearances to allow the defence to re-organise.  Tomas Rosicky was shown a yellow card as the Gunners managed to hold on to their lead until half time.

Arsenal came out for the second half a far more lively team, managing to retain possession far better than in the 1st, where they regularly gave the ball away with wayward passes.  Chamberlain was played in by Chamakh but this time Constanzo stood tall and saved the shot well.  Other than this Arsenal failed to create a clear cut opportunity and were limited to shots from range.  Out of nowhere, right-back Torosidis cut inside unleashed a fabulous left footed shot that beat Szczesny, who was relieved to see it bounce back off of the bar.

Ramsey replaced Chamberlain and Van Persie came on for the relatively ineffective Chamakh, signalling Arsenal’s attempt to kill the game off.  Between these substitutions Arshavin wasted a great chance to double the lead; his feeble toe-poke was easily saved. Arteta was booked for one trip too many by Carlos Velasco Carballo – the ref had been overly officious all evening, giving fouls where many would have waved play on.  Pat Rice then brought on Gibbs for Arshavin as Arsene Wenger squirmed in the stands; this was the final game of his farcical ban from an inept UEFA and he appeared frustrated at being unable to affect the game.

Arsenal held on for the final ten minutes with relative ease, securing an important three points in our bid to qualify for the knockout round and the undoubted challenge of Barcelona that will follow.  Whilst the overall performance was not of the level we have grown used to in recent years, we defended well and on balance deserved the win.  The extremely promising performance from Chamberlain was a real plus and with possibly both Walcott and Gervinho injured, he may be in contention for a place at the lane, where many challenges await.

Watch the goals from Arsenal 2-1 Olympicos here

 

Submitted by clockendview – just another Arsenal blog

 

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