First things first I have to apologise for the lateness of today’s match report. I was feeling tired after work and decided to have a little lie-down earlier this afternoon and before I knew it the sun was down and it was 8.30pm. I even had one of those moments where you wake after an afternoon kip and can’t work out whether it’s morning or night or whether you’ve slept for two days. Weird.
But I digress. The reason you’re here is not to hear my afternoon sleeping adventures but to read about Arsenal’s impressive win last night over Olympiacos in the Champions League. So I’ll turn to that.
The goals may have come late – scored in the 78th and 86th minutes by Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin respectively – but a 2-0 scoreline was the least we deserved for comprehensively outplaying a very poor Olympiacos side at The Emirates. The Greek side never seriously threatened Vito Mannone’s goal throughout the 90 minutes while up the other end we clocked up 23 attempts on goal, a large proportion of which forced Olympiacos’ grey-haired goalkeeper
Arsene Wenger’s team selection caught the eye largely because of the presence of Tomas Rosicky – a player who had not started for Arsenal in 231891237 days. He was joined by the two goalscorers Arshavin and van Persie in the three-pronged attack with Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby and Alex Song providing support from the midfield. Bacary Sagna was given at the rest at right-back, giving Emmanuel Eboue the chance to play while Mannone continued in goals as a result of Manuel Almunia’s ‘chest infection’.
I don’t really see the need to run through the multitude of chances that we created – the bulk of which you can see in this video – but for those that missed the game it’s hard to convey just how dominant we were. There wasn’t an Arsenal player who had a bad game as we tore Olympiacos apart on a relentless basis, only Nikopolidis and some very straight shooting prevented us from taking the league on numerous occasions.
To our boys credit we didn’t panic with just over 10 minutes to go and we finally got the breakthrough when the excellent van Persie tapped home after lovely work from Fabregas and substitute Eduardo. The score was doubled shortly after when Fabregas and Arshavin combined to allow the Russian to score with a very cheeky backheel. There’s little debate that the second goal was offside but on a night where we absolutely peppered the away side’s goalkeeper a two-goal margin was the least we deserved.
I thought the notable performers on the night were Fabregas, Arshavin and yet again, Alex Song. The former pair were criticised for lacklustre performances against Fulham on Saturday but they responded in style, Fabregas essentially creating both goals with his excellent passing and generally dominating an opponent who gave him far too much space to wreak havoc. Arshavin meanwhile provided a persistent threat and seemed to grow in stature late on while Song produced another trademark performance in the middle of the park.
Special mention should also go to van Persie for his third goal in three games, Gael Clichy for a decent return to form and Rosicky for a bubbly return to action although I feel it would be wrong to read too much into this win. Champions League home games tend to be rather straightforward these days and Olympiacos’ performance was the worst I’ve seen by a first-tier European club in a long time. In the end though you can only beat what’s in front of you and the Arsenal lads deserve credit for getting all three points in a game that perhaps looked headed for a draw.
PS. You can check out some stunning and exclusive photos from the night courtesy of Ryu Voelkel here. Enjoy!
Have your say on Arsenal’s win over Olympiacos by leaving a comment.