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3 points in the bag after hard fought game

By Walter Broeckx

Games in the CL are never easy.  I know we have the exceptional high score when we beat a relative new or unknown team. But I don’t think that we really have any real easy teams in our group this year.

We have two champions in our group (Montpellier and Olympicacos) and the team that finished 3rd in the Bundesliga.  And teams in the Bundesliga are not that easy to beat as we found out last season against Dortmund. So despite Arsenal being favourite to end on top of this group each game has its own tricks and problems that we have to overcome.

With the arrival of Olympiacos we have seen a team that we almost can consider a PL team. They have some kind of familiarity as we seem to play them each year in the CL. It was almost on the same day one year ago they came for their annual game. Last season we won 2-1 after a difficult match.

Before the game a little surprise when we found out that Mertesacker was not even in the squad as he was sick, so Koscielny and Vermaelen were partners again. Coquelin came in for Diaby and Oxlade-Chamberlain for Ramsey.

Today proved to be the same. Olympiacos defending in numbers and Arsenal being to sloppy with a lot of passes. It was visible from the start that the defeat against Chelsea affected our players a bit. Too many lost balls, balls played out with no pressure. I think it is fair to say that we have seen them play better in the last games, seasons, years.  Olympiacos was counting on a counter.  And they nearly were successful with this tactics. But fortunately an effort went over the bar from close range and Manone stopped a shot that went passed a few defenders and held it tight to his hands.  That was an excellent and vital save.

Arsenal pressed more and more and gradually our game improved a bit. And thanks to an attack started on the left flank with Podolski who made a 1-2 with another Arsenal player and then his low cross was a pull back to Arteta. Arteta wriggled his way past a defender and Gervinho took the ball away and just took a low shot from outside the penalty area and the Greek keeper was beaten. A nice taken goal. Almost a copy of the Manone save but the Greek keeper couldn’t get to the ball.

But then we just seemed to relax a bit. We invited pressure a bit too much and we thought the ref would make an end to the first half. The result was that nobody really put pressure on the left flank player from Olympiacos and so he could take his time to deliver the perfect cross. The wild looking Mitroglou headed the bal perfectly in the far corner. Nothing Manone could do about that. One have to admit it: a beautiful goal. But why did we allow the crosser that much time and space?

The second half I felt we played much better. Olympiacos defended like in the first half and we could open them up a few times.  An attack, again on the left flank saw Gervinho dribbling to the goal line. He cut the ball back and Podolski was first on the ball. He only had one thing in his mind: turn and shoot.  And his hard and low short from 8 yards out went through the legs of the Greek keeper. 2-1 to the Arsenal.

We kept in control for most of the game after that. Walcott came for Oxlade-Chamberlain. And a bit later both goal scorers left the field and Giroud and Ramsey came in their place.  The further the game went the more Olympiacos was searching for an equaliser. And as a result Arsenal could launch a few counters but the final ball was not there.  A cross from Walcott to Giroud saw the latter deviating the ball but the keeper was standing in the right place.  And a cut back from Cazorla to Giroud was the perfect chance to open his CL account for Arsenal…but a defender blocked  his goal bound  shot but he didn’t know much about it.

Time was ticking away for Olympiacos and Arsenal defended the lead. And in the extra time when Manone made a goal kick Giroud opened up his body and headed the ball in the path of the upcoming Ramsey. Ramsey went past his defender and steered the ball with a nice chip over the goal keeper . 3-1 was the final result.

A difficult game against a team that can play football, that can defend and that doesn’t need much to score a goal. This is the Champions League. No easy games in this group. We just need to work hard, be concentrated, defend like mad and take our chances when they come.

If we win our next home game we are very close to being qualified. And then we can finish it off in the next away game in Schalke when I will be there to support our Gunners. Well that is if all goes well and Arsenal gives us the tickets we ordered.

19 comments to 3 points in the bag after hard fought game

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Walter,
    Nice review.
    Giroud is going to come through. Fifteen minutes of playing time, one forced save; one fortunate save and one assist. However, we need the fans and press to stop going on and on about his not been as lethal yet for Arsenal as he was before we got him from France.
    Good to see Ramsey score too. He’s been trying for that since last season!

  • Mandy Dodd

    A very satisfying result against a good team after a difficult weekend. This should improve confidence. We were edgy in the first half but much improved in the second. Ground did all except score but got a very impressive assist. And it seems we now have the Ivorian messi! Great to see the backing of theo, hope he reciprocates.

  • Aussie Jack

    Agree with both the above comments. Only saw the second half but Gervinho was a dazzler. Podolski was born at Highbury ,I think ,and Giroud is about to explode. Ramsey`s goal was pure class. Hard to be critical when we`ve just beaten the Greek champions 3-1, my only concern is Mannone, he`s not top drawer stuff. IMO.

  • Goonerbeall

    Hard to say anything but congrats when a team done its best and it that prove to be enough. I echo sentiments above that Giroud needs support, love to get the best out him. He is increasingly coming on and contributing which makes things happen. Upon coming on against Chelsea he had Petra Chec busy by either him or other Gooner boys. Infact, his absence lost us game. Good players dont only score they also make things happen. Give him time and longer time on pitch- 10-15 minutes every now and then will turn him into a Sharmak. Do we want that? Giroud is fantastic at holding players allowing others to nip in and do damage. Will be needed against West ham who are 2 points above in table and 5 if they beat us.

  • Nice

    Good test. I salute the Arsenal Players, new or old I can see a better and more confident team this year. Arsenal pick up quite well even though the defeat may have some effect. But Arsenal recover well and did not affect them. Thats the spirit just keep on going and be consistent. It will decide whether we will have a better position than last year or maybe even achieved a trophy, who knows.

  • ARSENAL 13

    we were shabby…Vermi and Kos.

    Well good things….Ramsey scored. A jupiter of pressure on his head has eased off. And Giroud…how unlucky can a striker be.
    Gibbs and Carl….very very good.

  • @ Aussie Jack
    “…he`s not top drawer stuff”.

    In a cabinet of five drawers, Mannone fits nicely in the 4th drawer down. IMO.
    On the subject of a cabinet…

  • JohnW

    Mannone wasn’t really that bad, i thought TV5 and his central defence partner were a bit sloppy. Good work from the full backs, lots of energy and drive. I think Coquelin did ok, but Arteta still needs to help him out with decision making. I would have loved to see Giroud given this game and rested Gervinho for Saturday, but hey, i’m not complaining about his performance.

  • nicky

    The impressive displays of Jenkinson and Gibbs continue.
    So does the fickleness of fans who are impatient with Giroud. The awesome Cazorla is rapidly becoming a legend in his own lifetime…..how does Wenger discover these stars?
    And Gervinho appears to be after this season’s Golden Boot!One thing I noticed at the Emirates is the nervous tension of the fans (a la Highbury Library), prior to set pieces, which seems to transfer to our receivers on the field. Hardly a sign of confidence and a display of crescendo cheering in future wouldn’t go amiss.
    As Walter rightly says, 3 points in the bag after a hard
    fought game.

  • Gouresh

    Did any notice that the crosses were absoluttely attrochious and from all of them. this need serious improvement.

  • With this game my confidence is back,we need to win in anyway posibble good or slugish. Dortmund proved to the AAA that afterall we are not bad,look at Man$ity they hard to get a lousy penalty to get a draw i wonder what they will get in germany. Keep it up Gunners WestHam is next we need to go back to our winning ways.The struggle contuenua

  • rusty

    Poldi looked great on the ball — but wasn’t very influential in the first half, with few touches and little tracking back to do. The Ox wasn’t in his best form, maybe we should dial back expectations for him a bit, give him some time with less pressure where he can settle down and find that happy medium between making every pass a killer and recycling the ball backwards. Theo finally signing his deal would give us more flexibility on that right wing — I 100% agree with Wenger that he shouldn’t start until he signs.

  • Ong Bing

    Very good review Walter, thank you.

    I agreed with good win, Olympiacos wins all their 5 match in their league.

    Damn, why we must have a international games after found a good momentum?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree Rusty, but unfortunately, I cannot see Theo signing. His agents have walked out on talks several times over the last year. He says he wants to be an Arsenal legend like Henry, well , he is clearly given licence to cut in from width just like his hero, so I just do not buy any of this I will sign if I can play in the centre stuff. Poldi is much more a naturally central player than Theo (IMO), but he too is played wide at the moment.
    I personally fear Theo is the latest in a long line who want out unless we play him what he and his people consider the going rate, which may be above what the club consider the going rate…rightly or wrongly. I would personally offer him 85-90kpw and see how he reacts, but thats why I am a fan, and dont manage a club! I think he will leave, but I would be so happy to be proven wrong……..

  • robl

    @ Mandy, you pay Theo £90k per week for inconsistancy and quite rightly everyone else is going to want a pay rise.

  • Mandy Dodd

    As I say, that’s why I am a fan and will never be a CEO or manager of a club. But I am convinced Theo’s best years are ahead of him, it will be a shame if the likes of Liverpool profit from that

  • bjtgooner

    This was not our most fluent performance but nevertheless was an excellent win against a team who were capable of some rather blatant acts of thuggery. The five officials seemed happy to let Olympiacos get away with their rugby.

    However, we did from time to time play some excellent football – some very exciting moves in the second half. Overall a good team effort.

  • Pat

    Enjoyable article Walter.
    Main thing was the win.
    And I was pleased Giroud got the assist for Ramsey’s goal.
    Oh, and Andrei Arshavin gave Gunnersaurus a big hug before the match.

  • Domhuail MacMathghamhna

    If I go by the AFC websites…..we were a disgrace and should have lost b y 20-0 or at least 10-0 to a crap Greek team. It never ceases to amaze me how llethargic so-called supporters and some websites are when it comes to actually complimenting the team, but how enthusiastic they are to find faulty, even in victory.
    FFS Olympiakos are current and past Greek champions and are undefeated in their league this season. They showed they are not a bad team, especially defensively, but AFC deserved the win and with 5 regulars still out, that they have the depth to play tough games and get results. Everyone is on a blame the CB’s parade despite Kos and Verm being among the best in the EPL….give them time to get their mojo going…they’ll return to form soon enough and if not there’s always Per….now that’s depth!
    As Walter rightly points out, there are NO easy games in the CL as City and Manure have found out.