After the disappointing performance and result against Chelsea last weekend, the champions league game against Olympiacos offered a fantastic opportunity to return to winning ways and to prove that the Chelsea game was just a blip. Olympiacos aren’t exactly a team you’ll refer to as underdogs. They’ve been league champions 39 times, and have always proven to be a much disciplined side, difficult to break down. And even though we end up winning, we have always struggled against them.
We have so many memories of games against Olympiacos, and quite rightly so as we’ve played them more than a few times over the last few years. Like, Oxlade Chamberlain making his Champions League debut in this fixture last season. He scored in that match making him one of the youngest Arsenal and English players to score in the Champions League. Good memory. Also I think we all remember that in the reverse fixture of that match, Vito Mannone temporarily forgot that the rules of football allow for a goalkeeper to use his hands while in his penalty box. While hilarious, it is certainly not a good memory, at least not for us gooners.
So back to the game, we lined up with VM24, CJ25, LK6, TV5, KG26, MA8, FC22, SC19, LP9, G27, TheOx15. Wenger continued serving his touchline ban for the 2nd game running. I still think it’s a shame he got banned in the first place, UEFA seem clueless most times. Fucking Platini %$#@*&
We were sloppy, especially in the first half. There were many wayward passes in and around our own box. It is almost as if Mannone speaks Italian to our English speaking fullbacks and the central defenders also lose their abilities to talk to each other during the games. For the first 15 minutes we were patient, kept the ball well, passed it around even better but struggled to create any meaningful chances in open play. Santi had a wonderful free-kick tipped over by the goalkeeper. For the rest of the first half, our team tried impersonating Stoke City trying to play the ball on the ground. Olympiacos also had two decent opportunities to score, one of them from five yards which their player mercifully decided to miss. Phew.
Then against the run of play, we scored, just three minutes before the half time whistle. After some good work from Cazorla and Podolski on the left, the ball was sent to the centre where Arteta and Gervinho were lurking. After a little confusion between them, Gervinho hit a low shot back across the goalkeeper, into the far corner. Decent finish from our ‘striker’.
That lead lasted only three minutes. A sharp cross from the left, perfectly met Mitroglou who stuck out like a dog, making our two central defenders like buns. Made a strong contact with the ball and directed it past Mannone into the goal. There was no chance for Mannone, especially from where he was positioned.
We came in for the second half more focused, probably due to a bit of Bould sticking his right foot in each of their asses. We got the lead again nine minutes into the second half, Gervinho got into the box from the left wing, did a one-two with one of the Olympiacos defenders, gave the ball to Podolski, and he hit a left footed shot through the legs of the Olympiacos goalkeeper. 2-1.
We got on the back foot again after scoring but Olympiacos couldn’t get a way through. Theo, Ramsey and Giroud came in later for Podolski, Gervinho and Chamberlain. Ramsey scored a rather nice velaesque goal with the last touch of the game after Giroud had slipped him through with a header from Mannone’s goal kick. 3-1
The Verminator-Koscielny partnership seems to be working as smoothly as a three year old chewing gravel. They are both fantastic defenders individually, but for some reason or the other, they don’t seem to be working as a couple right now. I personally don’t think they CAN’T work together; it’s more a matter of both of them not being in good form at the moment. Hopefully Per recovers from his illness in time for the West Ham game. And if not this duo have to find a way to play together.
Had some shaky moments but did most of his job well.
Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs: 8
Our fullbacks are the most improved players this season; they both defended well and got forward to good effect. Carl a shade more impressive. Hodgson was there in the stadium, who knows what happens next.
TV5: 1st half 4 2nd half 6
Verminator had a pretty bad first half, he gave the ball away on multiple occasions but he improved a little in the 2nd half. Also almost got at the end of Theo cross after bombing forward and leaving the defence exposed.
Laurent also had a poor first half, he picked up a needless yellow card also. He improved in the second half and made a very crucial interception.
Passed a late fitness test to play.Got about his job effectively and professionally. Also technically had an assist for Gervinho’s goal. Few missed passes in the first half, but you gotta overlook that for someone who is regularly excellent.
He did what he normally does, he does however need to improve in front of goal. So exciting to watch!
Okay, it’s a 6 but for someone who made noises to quit the club if he doesn’t get game time, he was too sloppy in the first half and gave away possession at times. Weight on the passes was all wrong. Improved in the 2nd half
Was quiet for most of the game, one chance and one goal. Very lethal and gave us defensive balance on the left
Looked rusty(surprisingly), most of the things he tried didn’t come off but he kept trying.
Gervinho: 8 (MOTM)
Say what you like about Gervinho playing as the no.9, but the job of the striker is to score, and he did. Most strikers will be pleased with 5 goals with in 5 matches. He also had an assist for Podolski’s goal.
Ramsey 7 (1 goal)
Giroud 7 (1 assist)
Theo 6 (Sign da ting no?)
Match report & ratings authored by Sola.
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