Arsenal 2-0 Olympiacos: A Cescy return to form

Arsenal 2-0 Olympiacos: A Cescy return to form

Gallas, Eboue and Arshavin celebrate the second goal

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 Antonios Nikopolidis into action.

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!

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s win over Olympiacos by leaving a comment.

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36 Responses to “Arsenal 2-0 Olympiacos: A Cescy return to form”

  1. Evo In Oz
    September 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    yep good result for sure, patience wins the game in the end!

  2. Evo In Oz
    September 30, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    I too thought Arsewaxin was back on his game, unlike many pundits who thought he was unbelieveable, but he wasnt that over productive, just dangerous more than anything. a lot of his attempts came to nothing, but bring on the next game and he will brain them!

  3. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    September 30, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    @ Evo in Oz – Yeah, we all expect a lot from him. I thought he had an excellent opening 50 minutes, then went off the boil and I thought he’d be substituted, but then he fired again late. Overall he had a great game though, looked purposeful on the dribble and always willing to shoot.

  4. Evo In Oz
    September 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    yep, his willingness to shoot is refreshing from last season to this, i love that so much and hope that he and rosicky, eduardo and RVP can do the damage in the 1-timers shooting department, we certainly need it! Go you gooners, you good things!

  5. shambogunner
    September 30, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    in fairness i thought eboue was great last night, he won back so much ball and tackled tenaciously i think hes near the finished article if he could just improve his passing on the move and his shooting hed be a class act…also the annoyin little things like shaping for the camera in the tunnel in his vest, does any1 know wot was even wrote on it,that stuff gets on my tits with him.
    diaby only gave away the ball 3 times last nite and was fairly good overall…mannone was impressive again simply because he showed his concentration levels are excellent to make a great save at o-o when he dived instinctively between an oncoming attacker and clichy on the post to parry a well directed header…no1 for the don
    RvP was class hes becoming a real leader…and not to forget vermaelen who is like no player iv seen before in the way that he moves around the pitch…iv yet to see him go off his feet,his low centre of gravity and balance along with his sheer power can only be matched with that of vidic and we struck gold with him…i actually thought arsha was a little bit wasteful going forward up to the last 15.but his determination to get back and help out on 4/5 different occasions shows you wot a player he is
    lastly rosicky my fav player..great to see him in good shape and a few more games down the line hel be back to his best and a huge player for us…sheer class in every department

  6. billi
    September 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    You seem to have missed Ro-sicky, cause you counted the days? Like your description, I have no criticism, just to add a link with the interviews from AW and van Persie, cause I like van Persie there much, he’s really natural, sympathic and relaxed:

  7. billi
    September 30, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    just remember that there has been one good opportunity to score for the Greek at the beginning of the first half! Mannone there was awake and made one great save on the line, so the Greek had one really good chance at least, you ignored that I think

  8. billi
    September 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    sorry, at the beginning of the second half , of course, I missed the first

  9. billy
    September 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    @ billi. you didnt miss the first. i think you missed the whole point mate. who”s side you on anyway? brilliant football from arsenal at the end of the day. but for the 100th time, diaby is my biggest problem. i just feel very uneasy and uncomfortable with diaby. he always puts us under pressure. especialy when the game has got a nice flow, then he goes and spoils the whole setup. i dont know if its just me, but that guy is gonna put us in a lotta sh^t still. i have a gut feeling, and im never wrong. i said the same thing 2 weeks before the united game, and see what happened. sorry poeple, but im totaly anti diaby. totaly not a fan.

  10. Bruce in Atlanta
    September 30, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    Between my DVR and online viewing, I’ve only seen about 1/2 of the match. Have you heard this before?: “Arsenal looked dominant, but the end product didn’t quite live up to the promise.” Can’t really complain, though – scored 2, clean sheet, Greeks parked the bus, etc., etc. Nonetheless, I really like this team – Arshavin and Vermaelin (sp?) are top class. Cesc, RVP as good as ever. Gallas looks great. Eboue is really contributing. Song is excellent. Diaby still puzzles…

  11. Sam
    September 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Having been there last night, this was very frustrating until the last 20 mins but overall they played well and more than deserved the two goals.

    The more I watch Diaby the less convinced I am about him, he just looked like he didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing. He should be the next viera but he’s just not. He adds the height that we need and does make some neat moves but loses the ball far too easily and often appears sluggish.

    Will he ever be good enough??

    Atmosphere in the stadium was great last night. The away fans provided lost of noise but so did the home fans particularly in the second half. Lets keep this up and make this place a fortress!!!

  12. Ian
    September 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    A good result but our general finishing leaves a lot to be desired! An Ian Wright or Thierry Henry on the end of this teams chances would score bucket-loads. C’mon Arsene where’s dem strikers at?????

  13. millefiori
    September 30, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    In my view, it was the introduction of Eduardo that brought the incisiveness to the attack to actually shoot that goal. I dont know why but it was evident all through the match that we did not have the sharpness to put the ball past the goal. If not for the substitution, we may have ended goalless. Just a hunch.

  14. fan of Arsenal from Lohan 3...
    September 30, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    i love Arsenal perfomance… just need to maintain… good job by our prof. Wenger…
    hopefully i can learn prof. Wenger secret training, strategy and so all..

  15. Darragh
    September 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm #

    Anyone notice that as soon as Diaby came off, we scored a goal?

    🙂 🙂

  16. Breezy
    September 30, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    I agree with pretty much everyone and everything said. The Diaby thing still puzzles me, as well. I think he gives the ball away far too often, but he does provide some nice passes to set up other players at times (when he makes the decision to pass the ball quick enough) and certainly is a physical presence that we lack without Bendtner on the pitch. He can, also, stun everyone with a great run and spectacular finish as we have seen a few times, but that is REALLY rare. I think those are the three reasons he keeps getting consistent run in the first XI. I’d like to point out after all that I have said that I still believe he should not be a regular starter in our squad or get regular minutes off the bench.

    My top performers were Eboue, Cesc, RvP, Arshavin, Song, and Verm…heck everyone played well yesterday!!!

    Lastly, I’d like to ask everyone why they think it is that Eduardo continues to only come off the bench. Whenever he is in the game he creates chances (often out of nothing), he can take on defenders and beat them one v. one, he has great vision and passing in the box, and he is a clinical finisher. I think every time he has been on the pitch this season he has either assisted a goal or scored. He deserves to start almost every match with Arshavin and RvP up top in my opinion. We are going to have quite a good problem on our hands when everyone is healthy as there aren’t enough minutes to go around.

    Your thoughts????

  17. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    September 30, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    @ Darragh – You bastard.

  18. Darragh
    September 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Hey, I said I would! Just for a laugh.

  19. Sam
    September 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Agreed Darragh

    I think that Diaby is just not consitent enough and he is often the cause of missed passes / opportunities. Denilson asside we need another tall midfielder with pressence and then we’re set…..but haven’t most of us been saying that for some time now…?

    And on your Eduardo point I totally agree, the guy is class and is probably our best out and out finisher so play him from the start.

  20. Ian
    September 30, 2009 at 11:42 pm #

    I agree Breezy I don’t understand the Eduardo situation? He seems to be fit and is a real goal threat both in creating chances for other people and taking chances himself. We can only assume there’s a greater reason behind this tactic. I never used to rate Bender but he puts in a 120% everytime he’s on the pitch. I think Diaby is a confidence thingy?

  21. billy
    October 1, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    i have this thing about clicy in my mind now for a while. i wonder if we put sanderos in his place and put him up front or in the centre, what would happend? as far as i know, clicy started out as a striker in his early years. that boy has got some nice skill and nice moves when he goes forward. very tricky also. would be nice to try that combination out in a carling cup or fa cup match just to see what happens. “just a thought” love it, hate it, condemn it. your views?

  22. Ian
    October 1, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    The only problem I can see with your idea Billy is that would probably make Theo surplus to requirements? I would like to see Theo in that central strikers role but how about Clichy for holding midfield role? He has more pace than Song or Denilson but has their tackling and physical abilities? If you could see the points i score in my fantasy footie teams then you would wholly disregard any of my tactics heh heh heh!

  23. TrueGooner
    October 1, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    I agree with most points made… I thing the Eddy thing has to do with putting in a reliable goal scorer in when the opponent is tired especially one who needs a lot of games to regain his confidence and get over his horrible injury… its a build up thing…. As for Diaby, I do not know what to say… never seen a player so good and so bad at the same time. Like someone said earlier, maybe it’s a confidence issue. There where times he looks as if he did not know what he was doing. If he improves his vision and learned to pass the ball on time instead of holding it and dribbling 11 people he will be better. He also slows the game down and his coming off made the game much more fluid. he also needs to learn that a midfielder helps in defense he just don’t let people pass him and than jogs after them

  24. harsen kalemba
    October 1, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    yeah,arsenal deserved the win.poor olympicios had nothing to do at the emirates.
    credit goes to cesc and the proven anchorman-song.

  25. wesley
    October 1, 2009 at 12:52 am #

    Guys u forget Carlos the Mexican he plays good football and the finishing is perfecto a good run of games would see him get to the top of the game a perfect replacement for rosicky anyway guys are having a blast wont spoil the party GO GONNERS

  26. km1980
    October 1, 2009 at 1:30 am #

    2 weeks in london on a visit from Sydney… two 2-0 victories witnessed at the Emirates. I should come home more often!!!

  27. GetGunMN
    October 1, 2009 at 2:53 am #

    Sanderos for left back? Clichy defensive midfield? Aren’t we glad some of you are not coaches? This aside, that game was just relentless attck coming from all directions. Great game to watch and the goals came just about the right time, before frustration sets in. As to Diaby, I have a feeling he will do much better if is deployed in the center, right behind the strikers. Unfortunate for him though, we play 433 that doesn’t leave any room for his natural ability. He needs space in the middle to run at the center halfs. When he gets that opportunity, he can be very effective. I just can’t wait to see Song, Cesc, Arshavin, Rosicky, and Nasri in the same line up. That midfield will rival Barca’s any day, twice on Sundays!

  28. henrykissinher
    October 1, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    yeah senderos at left back. brilliant

    clichy for defencive midfield. genius

    whats that…. pat rice in nets.

    you guys are thicker than a bag of arses.

  29. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    October 1, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    @ billy – I don’t think Senderos at left back is the best idea. He’s just not suited that role at all – too big and slow and doesn’t have the ability that Clichy has to push forward. I don’t disagree that Clichy wouldn’t do well at defensive-midfield but at the moment I think our defence is functioning well and will only get better as the season rolls on.

  30. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    October 1, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    @ GetGunMN / henrykissinher – You guys might not agree, but let’s try to stay respectful to each other. That’s what this community is all about after all.

    Cheers.

  31. billy
    October 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    nicely said andy. im a very sucessfull coach in south afria by the way. you only believe that a player cant do something if you never tried him out. its like a baker, he can bake brown bread, but not white bread, cause he never tried. the same with clicy. started out as a striker, but now a left back. a good football player can play any position. i was only suggesting to “try” it out. we are the league winners here for 4 years in a row. know why that is? i try out different tactics. a player believes his a striker or a defebder because he thought so. a good coach see his real potential. i had boys coming here believing they were strikers, cause everyone wants to score goals. meanwhile, some of them were actualy the best defenders that i ever had. i hope those two peanut brains get my point. it might take a while, but like you said, everybody is not coaches, so i dont expect much from you guys.

  32. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    October 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    @ billy – OK – don’t fight fire with fire though. No-one in this community should be calling people ‘peanut brains’.

  33. Old Timer
    October 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    That goal of Arshavin’s was unbelievable. Imagine having the balls to do that in an important international fixture.
    We’re building up a team with real stars in it again now. Ar-sshhh-avin, Eduardo, Vermalen, Rosicky, Fab, Gallas, Song and so many others. Class. I’m getting very excited.

  34. He Nonny Mouse
    October 1, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    Right on, Old Timer. Come on you Gunners, let’s do some damage to Blackbum ths weekend.

    @km1980 – I, and I’m sure others, would be interested to hear any of your reflections since you’re lucky enough to actually have been there for the games.

  35. theicehammer
    October 3, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    arsenal need a striker. Players missing far to many chances. It will come back to haunt you all, mark my words. For now the points are the most important. Well done

  36. ElijahBornToBeRed
    October 3, 2009 at 11:49 pm #

    Hello guys. My name is Elias I am from Greece and I am one of the many Olympiacos crazy fans. I certainely believe that we didn´t deserve anything else from this match, our performance was poor indeed. But except a great team, we also had to face great difficulties the last 3 months, so at least for me, it was enough that we kept you anxious for 78 minutes. Things will be much different, believe me, in our second game with Galleti and Maresca in the squad and with the support of 35.000 lunatics… Anyway, good luck to Arsenal in Premier and Champions League (after all red unites us…)

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