By Walter Broeckx
So Arsenal has done it again. Loosing at Olympiacos. It is getting a bit of a habit in the last seasons. Always the last game of the group, always a rather unfamiliar Arsenal team out on the field.
From last weeks starting line up only Szczesny, Jenkinson and Vermaelen were on the field. The rest was players we didn’t know (Meade) and players that we hardly see play in the first team for the moment. Be it due coming back from injury or just put on the bench. Rosicky was for the first time in a very long time back on the field from the start.
I found it a rather entertaining game with both teams who had nothing really to win or lose so they played an open game. Both teams got their chances but they were missed or the keepers stood in the right place.
The player that caught the eye the most for me was Rosicky and I don’t say this because he was the one that scored the goal. I say it because when my internet stream was working he seemed to be the player who was controlling the game for Arsenal. He was shouting, pointing, running, tackling, battling for the ball. I really was impressed by his first half. For me the best player on the pitch.
And a well taken goal to round of his first half performance. More of that I thought….but to my amazement Rosciky was taken off at half time and replaced by Arshavin. Was this a preventive substitution? Please let him not be injured again because this really would be a big blow. Not just for him but like he played in the first half he really was proving that he still has got what it takes. Maybe not for all games all the time but he certainly could be helping the team to some form of rotation and give more rest to other players.
So we keep our fingers crossed for Rosicky and hope it was just a case of giving him a good 45 minutes of top class football.
Let us look at left back. Meade was certainly no meat for the Olympiacos attack. I think the young man did a very solid job. He really worked his socks off and stood his ground during the game. Well done I would say. I hope he gets another game next week in the Capital One Cup. Wouldn’t mind it at all.
With Rosicky no longer on the field we were forced back in the second half a bit. But still we had a some good chances and an excellent save from Caroll on a shot from Arshavin could have prevented an Arsenal victory. He now stopped the goal bound volley and the defenders were first to the ball to smother out any further danger.
But Olympiacos threatened more and more and like I said the missing presence of Rosicky was in a big way responsible for this.
Then the Spanish refs started a bit of their own 6 man show. Even on my dodgy stream I couldn’t see Szczesny touch the ball. It clearly went out from the outside of the goal post and should have been a goal kick. As we are the Arsenal we conceded from the corner after we couldn’t really clear the first ball.
Olympiacos thanked the ref, Szczesny got himself booked for telling the refs to wipe their glasses off next time or something like that. A ref, a extra useless ref, an assistant and still they made a wrong decision. Maybe we could ask Platini to put on a few more refs. So the comedy capers can get bigger.
I just hope Wenger didn’t mention it or asked the ref if he needs his glasses because it would mean that he would get a £1.000.0000 fine and a 6 year ban.
Some 9 minutes later Olympiacos scored the winning goal. A shot that went past a few players and Szczesny saw it late and couldn’t keep it out. The ref then made sure Arsenal would get nothing more and blew all he could against Arsenal and nothing in our favour. It was a bit embarrassing at times to see Olympiacos players go down after a slight hand in the back and the foul was given. When Chamakh was clearly pushed in the back with an arm, he gave nothing. Or he did he gave a foul against Chamakh who was getting a bit angry and then blocked the loose ball with his studs a bit high. But that was most of all the result of growing frustration of the way the ref treated both teams very different the longer the game went on.
No need to say that I am looking for excuses but it just was something that I saw on my internet stream when it worked.
So Arsenal finish second in the group behind Schalke who drew at Montpellier.
So who could we play that we know for sure in the next round? Well we can’t play Manchester United that is for sure and of course Schalke04. For those saying that finishing behind Schalke is bad I suggest you look at the other groups where German teams are playing.
But we could have Barcelona of course. But we also could have a game against Borussia Dortmund. Something that I rather would like as it is not that far from home and well we could visit Dortmund again after we did it last year. We could have Paris St. Germain and that would only add fuel to the rumours of Wenger and PSG. We could have Malaga as they won their group. The other possible group winners are Shakthar Donetsk or Juventus and also there is a chance of Bayern Munich or Valencia.
So the teams we could draw that are certain: Barcelona, PSG, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund.