Arsenal 2 – 0 Olympiakos
Van Persie 78, Arshavin 85
Evening all. If you remember in February of this year, when Sunderland came to the Emirates, they put 10 players behind the ball and basically defended for 90 minutes. That game ended up in a 0-0 draw and it was a game where we threw everything at them but could simply not break them down.
Well, just imagine a European side, managed by Zico with some slightly better players than Sunderland with the Greek goalkeeper who won Greece the Euros (and don’t forget ex-Aston Villa player Olaf Mellberg in the centre of their defence)… doing exactly the same in the Champions League.
It was probably one of the most negative displays of an away team, and maybe as a result, we just started playing. In a way, kind of forgetting it was a Champions League game – we just kicked the ball around with consummate ease. At some points, we really did over play, but then again, maybe it was key to unlocking their defence.
Our line up yesterday (was nearly correct in the preview post)… thanks to Joel Sequeira and the rest of the guys for commenting on the game last night… was…
Eboue – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Song – Diaby
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
I have to say, from where I was sitting in the stands, the first half was electrifying - the noise in the stadium was awesome. Having the four players of Rosicky, Cesc, Arshavin and Van Persie meant our attacking play was sensational, with an excellent move between VP, the Russian and the captain resulting in Cesc hitting the bar (a worthwhile highlight to find somewhere if you can!)…
But Olympiakos were resilient in their defence… and it took until the last fifteen minutes before we managed to score. From my point of view, I couldn’t really complain about the effort and the football was sensational, but when Diaby and Rosicky came off and Eduardo and Vela came on, and we reverted to 4-4-2, we looked much more dangerous. Eduardo slipped into between two defenders, as Vela made a decoy run to the left, Cesc finding Eduardo and then the Crozilian squaring to Van Persie, incisively and accurately to make it 1-0. And 1-0 soon turned to two when good play from Van Persie and the electric Arshavin resulted in a tap in with a back heel from the little man after so really attacking play!
Arsene was delighted with the win and of course with Arshavin:
“I’m very happy because we had a great first half with outstanding quality. Unfortunately we couldn’t take advantage of it and at half time it was 0-0. It’s difficult to maintain that pace and quality for 90 minutes. In the second half our physicality dropped a little and our fluency went a little bit as well. It’s important then not to make a mistake and to dig deep and hope that they die a little bit more than us and take advantage in the last 20 minutes. That’s what happened. I think we dominated from the first to the last minute and Olympiacos defended very well. They were well organised and disciplined and gave absolutely everything for 90 minutes.”
“When you play against a team who defends with 10 men in their half it is important to have players who can play in a very small space and Arshavin is a specialist at that. He was sharp tonight and determined and in these types of games he is always a threat.”
So good news from Arsene is that Theo will be back in the squad for the home game against Blackburn this weekend and finally, in our fourth season at the Emirates, I kind of feel like the Stadium is becoming a bit of a fortress, the fans are louder, the team seems to know that they can beat anyone at home, and that’s really exciting. I can’t wait for the weekend’s game, knowing that we’ll have a selection of Van Persie, Eduardo, Vela, Arshavin, Rosicky and Walcott to choose from… Nice…
Okay, it’s Champions League Wednesday, so time to see what’s going on at the Santiago Bernabeu…
Have a good evening mes amigos….