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We’ve done pretty well at home against the Greek teams in the past, but an away defeat two seasons ago taught us that playing a second string side in the champions league not without risk.
Injuries and the upcoming North London Derby(NLD) meant that the side put out by Pat Rice would be a shadow of our best 11. Song at Centre Back, The Ox™ in for Walcott, Andrew Saint continues to get settled in, and Rusty Rosický the stand in captain.
Wholesale changes often means a lack of cohesion and a bit of caution, fortunately for The Arsenal and early goal by Oxlaide-Chamberlain settled the nerves, and when Andre Santos netted the second it looked like it would be one of those high scoring Champions League night.
To the credit of Olympiacos they didn’t retreat into their shell, but woke up and took the game to Arsenal. It seems news of our vulnerability on set pieces has spread far and wide and the Greek champions sought to take advantage of said vulnerability.
Their goal came from a quick short corner which caught the arsenal defence snoozing, Oxlaide-Chamberlain was left 2 on 1 and Olympiacos scored from a relatively free header. The scoreline wasn’t unfair, no, it indeed was unfair as the Greeks had more chances to score and were it not for their profligacy and a bit of alert defending from Arteta the scoreline would be in favour of Olympiacos.
The second half turned out to be a more controlled affair. Whether it was coaches instructions, or simply player caution, there were no more goals to come. Although at the time gooners may have been wracked with nerves over a slender lead, in reality we were well in control throughout the second half.
In the 66th minute Torossidis hit the bar with a thumping shot that seemed to take Szczęsny by surprise. It was a warning, one which we did well to heed. As it stood that was the last shot Olymipiacos had on goal. We did create a few chances in the last 20 minutes but the score stood at 2-1.
The scoreline made it feel uncomfortable, but I dare say it was not down to what we were seeing on the pitch. A combination of negativity and confirmation bias towards our defence made what turned out to be a relatively easy win feel much worse than reality.
The result, don’t say it loudly but that is our third win in a row although it doesn’t feel that way it’s another step towards the confidence levels that we need to sustain a good run in any competition. Arsène remarked that confidence is easy to lose and slow to regain, as it proves he is right, but we’re getting there —of that I’m confident—.
Alex Dimitri Song Billong can provide as much sorrow as he gives joy, when he is on song it is a joy to behold. The guy can be so calm, so calculating, if only he can keep his form going for a sustained period.
This season is a African Nations Cup tournament if he were to jet off to Africa he’d be sorely missed, thankfully it will take a minor miracle for Cameroon to qualify.
Their goal was one that gave more ammunition to the Arsenal needs a defensive coach agenda. A player left in a 2 on 1 situation while the defence is getting organised, not realising the kick is already taken. By the time Arsenal realised what was happening the goal had already been scored.
Lack of concentration, switching off, not paying attention, call it what you will, but is was bad.
Andrey Arshavin — Walking around, playing bad passes then standing there like it’s someone else’s fault, he was shit. Although he had a ten minute spell when it looked like he had suddenly realised there was a game to be played. Amazingly the stats showed that he had covered the most ground at half time—yes you read that right.
That’s not the worst though. What’s really ugly is the way he looks at the bench with those sad puppy dog eyes pleading to be taken off. At least he gets on the pitch, unlike …
As far as the Champions League is concerned the next 2 matches against Marsielle is crucial for qualification. The good thing is that we can’t take our foot off the gas as we did in previous campaigns. Seeing Marsielle beat both Dortmund and Olympiacos by scoring 3 goals means at the very least our defence will be tested.
Funny thing is that Marsielle can’t buy a win in Ligue 1 — so far they’ve played 8 and won 1— yet they are looking so good in Champions League. We will have to be on the ball against them.
Next up is the NLD. According to prevailing thought we are going to Shite Hart Lane as underdogs. I keep hearing that they have a better team than ours, and they have put some great wins together. Footballing norms say Adebayor will score against us, but I am not sure that it is that simple.
Derby games are just that, a derby, and the form book is usually thrown out during those encounters. Fortunately we were able to rest some players and Harry has repeated hisSpurs will finish ahead of arsenal this season mantra, which is usually followed immediately by us spanking them. Look it up every time he says this they lose, it has happened the past 2 seasons.
Anyway that’s my lot for today, thanks for reading. Remember to leave your thoughts in the comment section and follow @wengerball on twitter.