Thursday, September 29, 2011

Arsenal 2 Olympiacos 1

It was another tough game, but we got what matters most, which was all three points. A home win against Olympiacos was a must if Arsenal are to progress to the knockout stage.

The starting line-up came as a surprise. The makeshift defence and changes on the flanks were much expected due to the injuries to Koscielny, Walcott and Gervinho, but leaving the in-form striker on the bench was something nobody predicted. Arsene Wenger has recently admitted that the hard-fought wins over Udinese and the tough draw against Dortmund cost his side dearly on the domestic front, so his intention was probably to field a team just good enough to see Olympiacos off without stretching their key players' fitness too far ahead of the weekend's north London Derby.

Our defence looked once again vulnerable, but once Vermaelen is back from the injury, hopefully he should form a steady defensive partnership with Mertesacker to play most of the Premer League games, stabilising the back four.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's dream debut in the Champions League has already been talked about by many, so I would like to mention Chamakh's effort here. He has been under heavy criticism since January, but there have been signs of his returning to the form, including his first goal in 6 months and man of the match performance against Blackburn. In last night's game, how Chamakh held three Olympiacos defenders to himself and pave the way for the opening goal should be applauded as much as Chamberlain's goal. His intelligent pass to Chamberlain in the second half nearly set up a third goal for Arsenal. All he needs is luck and once his confidence is back, we will see him start scoring goals again just as he did in the first half of the last season.

The "man at the post" issue caught my attention again last night on two occasions; first of which was when Arteta cleared off the line, saving Arsenal from conceding a quick equaliser. It looked like it was totally his initiative to take the action. It showed how important placing a man at the post was.

The second occasion was when Olympiacos scored their only goal from a short corner. Szczesny signalled his team-mates to move the defensive line forward, so I presume that he did not want his defenders as well as the opposition's attackers to sit too deep in the box. Then unmarked David Fuster planted a header into the corner, to which our goalkeeper did not even move. Should Arsenal have a man at the post? Yes, we should.

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