Arsenal 3 -1 Olympiakos

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Arsenal 3 -1 Olympiakos

Postby Trina » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:06 am

I will be posting the match reports from TheArsenalPost from now on. Would be much appreciated if you could comment on his blog after reading the match report :)

Arsenal took another step towards qualification from Champions League Group B with a win over a very resolute Olympiakos at the Emirates on Wednesday night.

With the Arsenal manager still serving his suspension, Steve Bould took charge of the ‘Gunners second Champions League encounter with the home side struggling for any real cohesion for large parts of the match but doing just enough the edge the tight fixture.

This was not a particularly memorable night of European football nor did it personify ‘the beautiful game’ but two wins from two and a slip up from Schalke (who drew 2-2 against Montpellier) means Arsenal are sat top of their group with clear breathing space now.
Bould made two midfield changes from the side beaten by Chelsea at the weekend with Francis Coquelin coming in for the injured Abou Diaby and Aaron Ramsey dropping to the bench in favour of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Thankfully Mikel Arteta passed a late fitness test to play but Per Mertesacker was deemed too sick to be included.

Arsenal started the first half in fine form, full of confidence and zeal showing no signs of Saturday’s defeat to Chelsea. Kieran Gibbs and Santi Cazorla provided fantasic attacking prowess and combined for Arsenal’s best chance in the opening exchange. The Englishman was fouled on the left and the Spaniard’s fizzing free-kick was just tipped over by Balazs Megyeri.

It’s a shame this didn’t last. Midway through the first half they looked a different team. The passing was at best sloppy. The ball was being given away far too easily then then there was little effort to get it back. This allowed Olympiakos into the game and breathed new confidence into the Greek side.

Just before the half hour mark Mitroglou gave Arsenal their first scare. He fired a low shot through a flurry of defenders but Vito Mannone made a great save after seeing it late.

Seemingly, Arsenal hadn’t yet learned their lesson and almost founter d themselves behind after Giannis Maniatis whipped over a delightful cross from the right hand side and found the unmarked Paulo Machado.
Lucking for Arsenal he could only poke the ball over from close range. Huge let off!

Minutes from half-time Gervinho struck.

Gibbs cut the ball back to Arteta from the left who was then dispossessed just outside the D. The ball fell kindly for Arsenal as Gervinho collected the ball and fired Arsenal into the lead with a low shot. 1-0 Arsenal.

The London side looked set to go into the break with the advantage, much to the delight of the crowd but the Greek champions cut Arsenal celebrations short with a goal of their own. Leandro Greco turned provider with a delicious cross from the left and found the head of Mitroglou who guided the ball into the far corner.

I must admit, Olympiakos were good value for their goal. For large parts of the half they did well to isolate Cazorla and pressure the Arsenal midfield. They were also fairly well organised at the back and made life difficult when Arsenal tried to break them down.

There was more of the same to come in the second half with sloppy play from both sides but there did seem to be something different with the home side, there was a little more determination and will. Arsenal were not at their best, not by a long shot, but these two characteristics could be defining features in Arsenal’s season. After being pegged back, an Arsenal side of a few seasons ago would probably have gone on to lose the game – not this one. As the second half wore on Gervinho became far more influential. He set up Cazorla who couldn’t hit the target and set up Podolski in the 56th minute would could. Not only did he test the keeper, the German converted the chance brilliantly.

Gervinho’s first cross came back to him on the left but his second found his man at the near post. For a second it looked as if the chance had gone but the German fired a ferocious shot through Megyeri to make it 2-1 Arsenal.

A third almost followed after Chamberlain was fouled on the right and Koscielny nodded the resulting free kick over the bar from six yards out.

Despite the goal, Olympiakos weren’t too disheartened and began to settle into the game again creating a few chances but nothing really concrete.

Bould began to make substitutions with Walcott, Ramsey and Giroud all coming on to help see out the game.

The Frenchman had a few chances to score himself, most notably when Ramsey’s backheel sent Cazorla racing through on the left. His cutback was met by a fierce shot from Giroud, only for it to be deflected away.

Not to be deterred from this, Giroud made his most telling contribution to the game. He won the ball in the air in the dying moments of injury time to set none other than Aaron Ramsey (who’s finishing is often suspect to criticism) through on goal. Ramsey clipped home a sumptuous finish to put the game to bed.

A somewhat flattering score-line on the night for an Arsenal side that weren’t at their best.

Final score 3-1.
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