Another disappointing performance, especially in the first half, but this time we managed to get the win and with it the vital three points that give us control of the group. We didn’t start particularly well, a reaction to the Chelsea game possibly, although apparently half a dozen players are suffering from flu, which might also explain the sluggish start to the game.
Mertesacker missed out because of this illness otherwise I think he would have started. As it was Koscielny continued alongside Vermaelen at the back, and again they weren’t convincing. Vermaelen seems to have got into the habit of diving into tackles when there’s no need to do so, in the past few weeks he has given away free kicks that have ended up costing us and also the penalty against Montpellier. When he plays with Koscielny there seems to be a lack of communication between them, and this was evident in the goal we conceded last night, with Mitroglou getting in between the two of them to header home.
Gervinho was starting through the middle again, and yet again he got on the score sheet, 5 goals in 7 games, not a bad return for a player who frustrates the fans at least as often as he delights them. Confidence is clearly playing a massive part in his resurgence and with Wenger keeping the faith and playing him ahead of Giroud he is repaying that faith. Now if only the fans weren’t so quick to jump on him when he does make a mistake and were to support him as much as they do someone like Chamberlain who has been pretty poor recently but no one has mentioned it because he’s English and most fans are desperate for us to have a top class English player in the team.
If Gervinho were given the same level of support he could be even better in my opinion. The second half was a much better performance, not sure Steve Bould’s had a hairdryer since the 80′s but at halftime they certainly seem to have been given the old hairdryer treatment and came out for the second half looking a lot more “on it”. They moved the ball around alot quicker and created more chances. Gervinho again was in good form and it was his cross at the second attempt that picked out Podolski, who does what he does best, controlled the ball and shot low and hard through the keeper’s legs.
To further increase his growing reputation as a clinical finisher, personally I can’t think of too many players who seem to be as proficient as the German when they get a chance in the box. The second goal should have seen us go on and control the game, but being Arsenal we couldn’t do things easily and full credit to Olympiacos who never gave up, and looked to offer a continuous threat to our defence especially the impressive Kostas Mitroglou who kept on troubling Koscielny and Vermaelen.
Cazorla had an excellent chance, but for all the Spaniard compusure when he has the ball and 3 players around him, when he comes to shooting he does seem to snatch at his shots a bit .We we’re only guaranteed the 3 points when a goal kick from Mannone was headed on by substitute Giroud into the path of fellow sub Aaron Ramsey who coolly chipped the ball over the out rushing goalkeeper to make it 3-1 and give the scoreline a rather more flattering look to it.
In the end it wasn't a great game to watch, we didn't play particularly well at times, but we got the three points, and although we’d all love to see sexy football all the time, winning when you are playing badly is what wins you trophies, no team will be brilliant every week, but if you can still pick up the three points it should build a bit of confidence and hopefully allow the team to build on the performance in the next game.
Two wins from our opening two games, puts us in control of the group and puts us in a great position to qualify for the next round already.