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Losing at Olimpiacos? It could have been worse


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“Making the Arsenal” – (a lovely present if ever I saw one) is available on Amazon, Arsenal on line, the Woolwich Arsenal site and in the Arsenal store.

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By Walter Broeckx

Well one thing is fore sure our defeat at Olimpiacos has caused some joy in some parts of the world. Some of the AAA-fans can finally say “I told you so” and tell what a fool our manager is. Well they had to shut up for a while so maybe it is understandable that they are filled with joy now that finally they can say that they are right.

Now I will not say that we played a brilliant game. In fact we didn’t play very well. I think every player who was on the field will feel that way. Some were good and others will have had a bad night with losing a lot of sleep. I hope anyway. Silly mistakes were made. Some players lost their head at times. Some players were thinking that it could be better not to risk any damage and stepped out of some challenges in order to stay fit. The Olimpiacos players were playing to win at all cost and risk and our players were playing to stay fit without risking too much.

But when you look at our team we had 2 players from our current best 11 on the pitch. And the rest were players playing out of position or players who for the moment are not really 100% at their best for various reasons. And we had a few youngsters playing for whom this was a very challenging test.

And so we lost 3-1 against the Greek champions. With what can be described as the best of the rest if we take in account the players who are still out with injury. I think Jenkinson could have done a better job at right back than Djourou. Because Djourou is not a right back and will never be one. But if no one is left to play right back our manager has to switch.

Wenger is of course blamed for the injury that happened to Santos. Okay fair enough but imagine we would have played Miquel and that he would have failed miserably because Miquel is also not a left back but a central defender. I think you could imagine the cry for the manager to be sacked if Miquel would have played and would have caused all kinds of troubles to our own team. Imagine we would have lost with more goals. Then they also would have been asking for blood. Either way it could have gone wrong. And nobody knew before that Santos would get injured or that Miquel played rather decent at left back.

But losing 3-1 at Olimpiacos is not something that hasn’t happened before. Because this season even Dortmund went over to Greece and they went with their full first team and they also lost 3-1 over there.

The main reason for Olimpiacos losing at home against Marseille was due to the fact that their league started later because of all the troubles they had this summer with all kind of problems and scandals coming above water. But our best of the rest got the same result as the best of Dortmund got there.

Some people also blame Wenger for not making the desired changes to the team. But do they realise that after half an hour gone we had to change our keeper so we had only 2 possible substitutes left. And then 5 minutes in to the second half we had to make another change that was not really meant to happen with another injury. So in fact Wenger had only 1 change he could make in this game. So the he should have brought on…… (fill in as you like) looks to me a bit strange. Yes if Fabianski and Santos would have stayed fit I think Wenger would have changed a few other players.

I do think Park would have had his chance up front at some stage. But we were handicapped because of the injuries earlier in the game. Those things happen on a night when it isn’t your night.

So overall things didn’t go our way against a very strong (look at their other home results against real first choice players) and aggressive team. Some players didn’t fancy risking their legs, others will have found out the hard way what it means to play at the highest level (there is no higher level than Champions League). By now they will know that it takes a bit more to get a starting place at Arsenal than what they did yesterday. Those who learn the lesson will step up their game and will get better. Those who are not capable of learning will lose their battle for more starts at Arsenal.

Losing at Olimpiacos with a basically second string team is not a disaster. It is how the players individually will react to this defeat that will be important. Will they have the character to step up their game and reach a higher level? Only the future will tell us. But for god’s sake let us not lose our head over this defeat and saying that we suddenly are a bad team.

I think there are more than enough players that have stayed in London who will be ready this Saturday for a game that is slightly more important than this trip to Greece was.

Oh and a final note we might just notice that it was the first team of Manchester United with their best players lost 2-1 at Basel. And Manchester City is also out of the Champions league after playing all the games with their best players…..

I wonder how the AUU and the ACC will react to this great performance of being able to get in to the Europa League…

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9 comments to Losing at Olimpiacos? It could have been worse

  • To put it in context, this is the time of year for nasty injuries to harm a team. Newcastle have sailed along and now suddenly they have Steven Taylor out all season, Fabricio Coloccini out as well, Cheick Tioté out and Danny Guthrie out.

    Elsewhere Vidic is out….

    It happens. Mind you someone on Untold wrote in after Ryo got an injury in a reserve game criticising Wenger for playing him in the reserves.

  • Cape Gooner

    Walter, I’m not sure you make enough of the point that they were playing for something important and we were playing to make up the numbers in respect of the refs requirement to behave somewhat differently than is normal.

    It is Common Sense 101 that if the team that needs to win plays a very physical game, they will get an advantage as the other team has no reason to respond. Why would any Arsenal player get involved in a 50/50 tackle? For pride?

    Isn’t it therefore incumbent upon the ref to blow the game to discourage borderline physicality? Did the ref do this? Not imo, but you are the ref.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Injuries apart, that game just did not matter. A cuple of the seniors were not great, much is being made in the AAA about Arshavin, personally, i think he needs more games, but also suffers from not having Clichy around to give him more licence to roam. Arsha will never be a box to box type player, and i think many underestimate some of the hard, unspectacular work Clichy did, of which Andre was at times one of the main beneficiaries.
    As for the AAA, they loved this result. We live in a world where people want instant punishment for perceived failings, the X factor generation, many of them want Wengers head regardless. A blog yesterday suggested the AAA use Wenger and certain players as a release valve for anything negative in their lives. Their sites are full of such people, along with a few Spuds glorifying in the self harming of the AAA. The team have done well recently, the AAA have looked a bit stupid to be hones – they are now reduced to clutching at the thinnest straws, as we are witnessing from their reaction to a maeningless game.
    They are entitled to their opinions of course, but football is to be enjoyed, these poor souls spend their time worring about boycotting Arsenals sponsors, or attendance figures, teams currently ahead of us, some of the more extreme opinions in the Sun, Wengers mental health, Gary Cahill, Scottie Parker, as opposed to enjoying this teams fine run in the league and the games that matter in Europe

  • Eric

    There’s a reason I don’t go to the AAA sites, but why do I need to read about them here!? Everybody can have an oppinion and everybody is entitled to it, and then its up to readers to choose what they want to read. I for one only visit a couple of blogs and dont give any hits to the AAA blogs/sites. So therefor could we just stop talking about the AAA, I come to Untold to read your oppinions on Arsenal, not your oppinions on the AAA. I mean we all know the AAA are either:
    – Young and follow the mainstream oppinions thinking that is the right oppinion
    – Not Arsenal supporters
    – Or just not smart enough to see what the club is doing and going through.
    I dont see the need in having to mention them in each newspost, it’s getting old and boring.

    Let’s only talk about things that really matter! And who cares what the AAA thinks anyway!? I sure don’t.

    ARSENAL!!!

    ps: Not trying to be negative, still love most(if not all) newsposts on UA and will keep reading them all, but its starting to be more about the AAA these days which I find a shame, thats all!

  • Tee Song

    I’m sorry, but in my opinion, Arsene is partially to blame for Santos’ injury. For Arsenal, this game was meaningless, at least in terms of our competitive targets. Top of the group assured, no matter the result. Three of our four senior fullbacks are out with relatively long term injuries and he risked Santos, our only remaining senior fullback. He was happy to play Miquel, remember, against ManShitty in a meaningful cup competition and Ignasi acquitted himself quite well. So had an option. No, he couldn’t have predicted an injury but at the same time, he couldn’t say there was no risk so why take the risk in a nothing game.

    Imagine if this had been an international week, Brazil was playing a meaningless (at least for Arsenal) friendly and Santos was called up. We’d all be praying that he didn’t play and if he played, we’d be on pins and needles wondering if he was going to get injured. And if he did get injured, we’d be complaining at the lack of control we had concerning our player having to play in a meaningless game. Except against Olympiakos, we had the control, and we chose to play him.

    As for fans’ reactions if Miquel played poorly, I think Arsene has a thick enough skin to to ignore any complaints about that. At the end of the day, I do support Arsene but I don’t think he’s above criticism and I think if you were able to talk privately with him, he’d admit he regrets his decision to play Santos.

  • Stuart

    @ Tee Song : Can’t say I blame Arsene for the Injury to Santos. Maybe he was playing him to give sertain players more opportunity to Gel, there are a million and one possible reasons but blame is not a reaction we should have, maybe disappointment but certai nly not blame. Blame gets us nowhere, it dwells on thae past rather than moving on!!!

  • Stuart

    * certain

  • DaVinci

    I’d be interested in getting a glimpse of the players’ contracts. Something tells me that the agents would be clever enough to make sure that there is a minimum amount of games that a player has to play as part of the deal on the part of the club. The Fabregas example comes into play where Arsenal are meant to cash in on a number of post-Arsenal appearances and trophies (I read something like that). Which then bring me back to Olympiacos. Maybe, just maybe – the Manager used such a game also to fill up the numbers in terms of players that need to make appearances in UCL. This would explain (probably) the presence of Santos and Vermaelen (that’s just my guess).

  • Forget a conspiracy, neither of them is 100% match fit (well Santos certainly isn’t now) and this was a good opportunity to play a competitive game (so high intensity) but without worrying too much about the result.