Arsenal-Olympiakos: Match Preview, Predicted Line-Up. Time to Get Our CL Campaign Back on Track.

The games just keep coming and this one feels like a must-win given the points dropped in round one at Dinamo Zagreb.  The Greek Champions, 5 times over, in fact, also lost (nil-3) to group favorite Bayern Munich in their opener, so they’ll be looking to spoil our plans.  Getting something from this match is critical for them too or they’ll be well pinned to bottom of the group table.

As such, Manager Arsene Wenger has to tread carefully.  As much as he’d like to rotate players and rest them ahead of a Sunday showdown with league leaders Manchester United, he probably will need to ask several stalwarts to come back on just two days rest.

Matters are complicated by Olivier Giroud, who picked up two yellows in Zagreb, being suspended for this one.  Additionally, both Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta picked up muscle strains in the 5-2 win at Leicester City on Saturday.  Francis Coquelin, who hyper-extended his knee at Chelsea the Saturday before, was rested for the Leicester match and the Capital One Cup win at Tottenham, but has been training and may be forced into action.  In the pre-match press conference, Wenger also noted that he might choose to rest Aaron Ramsey who, with the exception of Per Mertesacker, is the only Arsenal player looking at his 3rd (full) match in 6 days.   My hunch is that Ramsey will start but that Coquelin might relieve him around the hour mark if we’ve staked ourselves to a lead.

How might we get to that point?

It could be tempting to try another start for Joel Campbell.  After all, he played with the Greek Champions, on loan, during the 2013-14 season, scoring a memorable Champions League goal for them against Manchester United.  Unfortunately he’s yet to score one wearing an Arsenal shirt.  Instead, I’m thinking we’ll see a front three of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

That would allow Aaron Ramsey to shift back into his preferred central position alongside Santi Cazorla and for the two of them to interchange freely with Mesut Ozil, who nominally at least, will be tucked in behind the front line as a #10.  He was frustrated at Leicester because he failed to take some good scoring chances, but here’s a video of his entire performance up there, showing exactly his level of mastery in an open match.

Olympiakos will want to do whatever they can to stop Ozil (and the rest) from playing like that and they should be keen to doing what they can to compress our attack.  Manager Marco Silva will likely borrow a page from Dinamo’s performance and be happy to concede possession and pile bodies behind the ball hoping to hit us on the break.  We’ll need to be alert to that threat, especially if Wenger opts to rotate extensively in his back 4.  My hunch is that we’ll see Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs back in at fullback but that we’ll stay with the center back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker who might enjoy one more match together before we host ManU.  David Ospina seems to be our man between the sticks for cup games.

Here then is the predicted line-up:

Bench: Cech, Gabriel, Bellerin, Monreal, Chambers, Coquelin, Campbell

That’s about all I can tell you, and, as always, I’m just guessing at the line-up and bench squad.  We’re awfully light on attackers so maybe one of the defenders gives up a bench seat for 19 year old Alex Iwobi, who also suited up for the North London Derby.  What would you do for this one, fellow Gooners, if you were wearing the manager’s shoes?

No matter who plays, we need a fully focused performance.  Wenger has made the point that these matches are tougher on players who play in the Premier League with its great depth in talent.  Olympiakos is dancing through their own league matches, winning all of them thus far this season.  Still, if we can embrace the challenge I’m confident our superior quality will show through.  Olympiakos has never beaten an English team on their travels in this competition, but there’s always a first time, so we must stay vigilant and not believe just showing up wins us the points.

What say you?

Confident?  Worried?  Already looking ahead to United’s visit on Sunday?

Have at it; don’t be shy; etc., etc., etc.

Cheers and enjoy the match!

by 17highburyterrace

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50 Responses to Arsenal-Olympiakos: Match Preview, Predicted Line-Up. Time to Get Our CL Campaign Back on Track.

  1. allezkev says:

    Interesting post 17…

    Gibbs, Debuchy and Ospina, they came through at Tottenham after a few shaky moments and had good games in the end, but the Champions League is unforgivable, so I tend to think that Arsene will go with his first choice back-four…

    If Arsenal don’t win tomorrow or worse, we could be looking at the Europa Lge 😦

    Injuries and Girouds suspension, kind of decide the rest of the team, and I would not risk Coquelin…
    So I agree with your midfield and attack…
    Although Campbell, as you say, is an intriguing option given his history with Olympiarkos…

  2. allezkev says:

    I did read that 19 year old Glen Kamara could be in the squad.

  3. I think you’ve got a very good point there, ak, about the FBs…and maybe I should edit the post because you’ve got me convinced… 😀

    I have to say…the squad is looking awfully light in a couple of spots…Up front and at the rear of the MF…exactly where all the TW talk was focused… Hmmmnnn…

  4. Pony Eye says:

    17ht, as always convincing thought sequence.

    This is a must win game. Pushing new parameters into the thinking, 4 games in 10 days is a highway to muscular injury, so Ramsey most likely will be on the bench. Also Wenger might choose a non epl match to reintroduce Gabriel, at the same time saving Per, coming back from a long illness, from playing 3 games in 6days. I also feel that Coq’s 2 days of training indicates he is fit enough to return. I expect:

    ———————-Osp——————–
    Bel———-gab———-kos——-mon
    ———–coq—————-santi———–
    ox——————ozil——————–alex
    ———————-theo———————

    Bench: Cech, Deb, Per, Gibbs Ram, Camp, Iwobi.

    4 days is a fair enough recovery time for the Man U match, who incidentally will have one day less time to recover.

  5. Gerry says:

    Good morning all. Yes HT, this is a dilemma alright. Not for us, but AW. But despite the result last time in the CL, I think the rotation policy is the correct one …and we know AW is a ‘long term’ thinker.
    Top post again HT. Like ‘Blue Moons’, being beaten by both outsiders in our CL group does not happen that often …. but yesterday’s red one left me with only 3 hours sleep, but it was worth it. This game should be worth watching too …

    Therefore I think he will make some of the usual changes.
    For a start, there is no risk in having Ospina in goal … and keep him fresh and interested!
    No risk in playing Gibbs. He came through the Spurs game with flying colours.
    Some risk with Debuchy if he has lost his pace against a speedy winger. But he too needs to build up his match sharpness, as Bellerin could easily catch the injury bug that plagues us?
    The bigger problem that many have overlooked is Koscielny? Should we risk playing him so many games in a row? Gabriel is available, and I would play him with Per.
    That completes a fairly solid back 5, with only whoever plays in front of Debuchy on the right to make it watertight?
    If Ramsey, who has played RB with reasonable success, is deployed more as the right side DM and not his ‘free role’ of going forward, I think that would be sensible?
    I said two weeks ago that I hoped that Kamara would make the bench and may be get a few minutes .. Well it did not happen. But seeing the amount of(precautionary?) strapping on Coquelin’s knee in the training photo’s, only strengthens the case this week, whether or not Coquelin plays? Another alternative would be Bellerin as an attacking RMF, if Coquelin is not risked, and put Ramsey on the left?
    Unless any of these; Cazorla, Ozil, Alexis are rested, then the attack does pick its self. No room for Cambell or Iwobi, and Ox may only get a bit part if Bell’s plays?

    In conclusion, my only change from the squad you have named in your 18 HT, is Kamara for Chambers or Koscielny?

    This will be enough to see off the Greeks. Confidence is high throughout the squad, and we need all players to be up and ready to drop in further down the line. Let’s face it, if the quality I have named above cannot beat Olympiacos at home. then we do not deserve to get out of the group stage!
    Cheers

  6. Gerry says:

    For those that can watch it, the Under 19’s is on the ‘Player. Team selection, re Iwobi, will be interesting if nothing else?
    KO 2.pm BST, Coverage starts at 1.40pm.
    Cheers

  7. allezkev says:

    Having read what Gerry has wrote, I think that it’s possible that you’ll be proven correct after all Seventino, all that worries me is what happened in Zagreb and at WHL, with the same players…
    Rustiness obviously had an effect, that’s for sure, but it’s just that we cannot afford another slip-up in this game.

    Seems that the smart money is on Ospina starting…

  8. Gerry says:

    Iwobi is playing in the Under 19’s at the moment 1-1, but Kamara isn’t. Not sure if he qualified though, as he was 19 at the turn of the year.

    Don’t rely on my reasoning Kev, it bears little resemblance to AW’s thinking 😀

  9. Hey fellas… Not too many comments, but all good ones… 🙂

    Yeah Gerry, I think AW could slot Gabby in for Kos and I thought about mentioning that option in the preview… In my experience, back pain can always use a day off… Additionally, Gabby might be seen as a bit of a hero (as PE wrote immediately afterward…) having stood up to his punk-*ss former countryman, Diego Costa, in the Chelsea match. He had been playing well up to that point and probably learned a good lesson: It’s OK to stand up for your teammates but don’t get into any stupid tit-for-tat, gotta-get-the-last-niggle-in sort of silliness… He might get the nice warm welcome from the home crowd that Flamini should have had after his derby goals…

    Speaking of (and again using personal experience…) I will say that muscle troubles can be a real problem AND that they can be worse for older players if they aren’t completely meticulous in their preparation and try to push their bodies when they shouldn’t. Sometimes those muscles need a stretch (and stretching is, of course, the best way to prevent injury), but sometimes the LAST thing they need is a stretch (or another game). These guys (Flamini and Arteta) are good professionals but, even more, they are desperate to get into the team and show that they can still play a role. Luckily, they’ll have this upcoming Int’l break to get fully healed.

    It’s just me, but I wouldn’t read too much into pre-match photos. With matches coming as fast as they are, the boys are just jogging around and maybe working on set play ideas and the like. If any of the reserves get onto the bench, it signals more about their chance to travel to Greece for a dead rubber match than anything about playing tonight, I would guess…

    Finally, I think AW makes his team selections always with a bit of optimism about the result AND the ability of his guys to deliver it–a sentiment not always shared by supporters. He has to believe that ANY combination of his players can win a match like this and can at least compete well against any team in the world. For guys to contribute they must feel confidence, including that of their manager. As such, doing things like yanking players when they make mistakes (i.e., Chambers, first half vs Liverpool) which nervous fans might want, are not real options for the manager. Yes, Debuchy had a tough match vs Totts, but it would be a real censure (i.e., the sort that leads to a transfer request submitted in January) if Gibbs started this one but he didn’t, for example. On the other hand, once the manager loses faith in a player, it seems (to me) to be complete and the player is quickly moved on. Actually, these days, they’re sometimes given a new contract and then sent out on loan…Still, only an injury crisis or absurdity in the transfer market offers a way back for guys like Szcz and Jenks, IMO…

    On that note, if Campbell gets a look in today, he’d better do something with it… My opinion again, of course…

    Ugh, no TV for me on this one so any in-match commentary would be an aid for the poor stream I’m expecting… Cheers…

  10. lennon484 says:

    Final score 3-2!

  11. Gerry says:

    Yes HT, To my way of thinking (for AW), if the back 5 look like they can cope with the normal stuff that might get through to them, then the midfield defenders just have to do their job properly, i.e., be in the right place at the right time, then over 90 minutes the attack will see us home.

    Clearly if Coquelin is fit enough, then it makes it a whole lot easier. But like muscle problems in us older ones, knee problems can be very difficult to judge until tested. Two days training leans me to thinking that if he has any reaction to the training, then he will be on the bench only as a last resort? My reasoning on Kamara (over Chambers, or even Gabby?) is that he is a player who knows the position inside out. He may not be at this level, partly from not being tested, but he does know you need 360deg. vision. He is not unlike Coquelin in his younger days really. So if AW starts him, like you say, he must have some confidence in him. More likely he will be on the bench until Coquelin get called in, and that may be the best way of playing it? Proper warm up and all that.
    The above score was the Under 19’s btw.
    Cheers

  12. Sounds about right, Gerry…if you’re suggesting Kamara might get a bench seat, and that, ideally, Ramsey and Le Coq split the 90 mins tonight, one way or the other.

    Also, I wanted to say, that I like the various ideas about our quicker FBs, Bellerin and Gibbs now and again (mostly to see out positive results) doing some time ahead of the older (slower?) guys, Nacho and Debuchy, both of whom did emergency work at CB last season. I absolutely don’t (ever…) see those guys (Gibbs and Bells) starting matches in those spots unless we get a run of injuries like last Autumn. That said, with Welbs, Sicky and Jack already out long-term, were only one or two others away from a similar state of affairs as we see with these muscle probs for Flams and Arteta and the knee issue with Coquelin. Although Ramsey has yet to get in the goals (prompting many to wish him benched) he is a real horse AND can do his thing from a variety of starting positions. Fingers crossed he can stay fit… Luckily these suspensions (Santi last week and Giroud this time) are falling in easier fixtures (that’s a dig at Spurs, btw)…They demonstrate, however, just how close to the bone we’re cutting it…

    Additionally, we always need to remember that sometimes injuries are made to look worse to protect players who are actually just being rested (and ones AW might want rested by their national managers)… You know, “Weng-juries,” a term I need to copyright at some point… 😀

    So, I’m (relatively) optimistic about the match tonight–and the health of the squad for getting us through to the Int’l break.

  13. Gerry says:

    Sorry HT I nipped off to get my tea/evening meal.

    I take it you are not with Fox Sports then? It is on BT’s CL list, so I will get to see this one. Can’t help you with in match commentary, as my TV is my computer monitor. If I run the two together in the evenings I tend to lose picture sooner or later, as the broadband gets weak at peak times.
    No doubt PG will be round?

    Oh, I would like Kamara get some game time. If Le Coq’s game goes pear-shaped during this game then your injury crisis may already be upon us?

    With that, I am of to feed the dogs …

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    I enjoyed reading your preview, 17HT. Thanks for keeping the flow going. 🙂

    I am in London and hoping to find a good pub near my hotel to watch the boys in red and white. I don’t care much any more about the CL as it is a dead competition with a very predictable outcome. However, it is good that the boys are back on home soil and can play some slick and entertaining football. COYG!!! 🙂

  15. Hey TA, Thanks for checking in…

    I kinda disagree about the CL as upsets can happen–Arsenal, of course, just need to be on the good side of the upsets. Additionally, with our own little upset in Zagreb, we’ve created a measure of pressure for ourselves in the group stage this time around. Overall, though, the group stages are predictable (and bothersome) and the eliminations are (more or less) similar… I’ve been ready for a European Super-League of some sort since I lived at my screen-name and, with FFP in tatters, I say why not? The monster money teams already have too many players in their shadow squads… Perhaps this is what AW/Gazidis/Kroenke are planning for, what with all those cash reserves on hand… 😀

    One last thought, I find this ‘controversy’ about playing Ospina in the CL matches funny…Barca won the whole thing last year with their cup keeper, after all. Maybe I just want to keep my Colombia connection going, but, IMO, Ospina’s been pretty solid and is improving in his kicking… He’s very decisive and wrong a whole lot less than our guy doing time in Rome, for example…

    OK, back to chopping wood…

  16. Prince says:

    Cech
    Deb Mertz Boss Nachos
    Flamster Santi Ozil
    Ram Feo SonicSanchez

    Il be closer to the mark than u all think.
    UTA!!!!!!!

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey PPP, where you been? Long time, eh… I hope all is well, no nail-gun accidents, etc. 😀

    TA, I had a wood chopping thought. (Plus, as always, I needed a break…) Why not get on the tube and talk with the touts and get into the stadium? If not, the pubs nearby served me well back in the day. The Compton Arms very near the H&I station was my favorite. Look for Peter and Kate. She’ll be the one drinking white wine and shouting “go on” at the (small) telly… They know a lot about travel to the Greek Islands and might just remember the guy whose wife is descended from Ikarians…

  18. allezkev says:

    Gabriel in…
    Gibbs in…
    Ospina in…
    Interesting…

  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    So… Ramsey rested, BFG and Nacho too… I like it… And Cech, of course… allezkev and I were both about half right…

    Brown Ideye (or is it Ideye Brown?…) has some pace, as I recall from his time at WBA, and then there’s Cambiasso, whose hair I’ve always liked…

    Anybody got a stream?…

  20. allezkev says:

    Ha ha, you won 2-1 Seventino…

  21. allezkev says:

    Coquelin is a risk imo, I just hope that he gets through the game without a reaction.

  22. The Cockie Monster says:

    The normal excellence, 17 !.

    Cambiasso !…..it must be like looking in a mirror, 17 !. 😀

    The quickest Arsenal team ever ?…………….pace all through the team, it will test my theory of the 3 P`s…………Pace, Pace and Pace !………………on paper it`s exciting, just have to do it on the pitch and Wenger will make me head coach !. hahaha
    The Sofa is like a Blackhole……………I cant escape it`s gravitational pull !. hahaha

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, I have a decent stream but I had to take a call just before all the goals started going in… Am I right that both were own goals?… The first one was on target, it looked to me, but our D should’ve been better to prevent the shot. The second was Ospina being a goof… (Cech to sub in at HT?) Funny enough, our goal probably should’ve been saved but took a friendly bounce as well…

    The game seem remarkably open and all the noise, in my stream at least is coming from the Greek supporters…

    Wish we had some firepower on the bench…Can’t picture Oly players being intimidated by their former teammate (Jo-el)…

  24. Admir says:

    Arsenal are more than a football club. We are bloody charity organization. Dinamo Zagreb couldn’t beat anyone in Europe for years – never mind, Arsenal come to town! Olympiacos couldn’t bring nothing from England besides their clothes – never mind, Arsenal are there to help them!

    It’s not just that Lewandowski will massacre us or that we can’t defend at the Emirates. Or that I have a feeling that every player from Iceland is subscribed for at least one goal against Arsenal.

    But as long as Wenger knows everything is fine, eh, 17?

  25. allezkev says:

    I didn’t see the game or the goals, but the result kinda says it all…

    Olympiakos hadn’t won in England before this evening, I believe.
    Arsenal have never won in Olympiakos, so maybe we will this time?

    We really don’t need the Europa League, but that reality is looking an uncomfortable possibility…

  26. Admir says:

    The One That Knows said in March that Arsenal would have been better if he hadn’t progressed from the group stage but continued in Europa League.

    It seems that players are giving him what he suggested.

  27. Admir says:

    We not he*

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oooh…TA’s got his work cut out for him… 😦

    For me the positives were 1) a very good stream… 2)…?

    …Perhaps, a bit more traffic here on the site?… Looks like the rotation, esp. at keeper is gonna bite the manager in the rear… A little extra depth up front might’ve been a good thing. The Giroud suspension, IMO, looms large…

    Over to you…

  29. Admir says:

    Team Lewandowski: two games, 8 goals, none conceded. Six points.

    Team 200 millions of cash reserves: 3 goals, five conceded. Zero points.

    Funny, there is no such difference between the wages of their respective managers.

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    I don’t have a ton of time here Admir, and I cannot get down on you only coming around after losses (as you seemed to enjoy the previous match) but…

    Sometimes these things happen and they happen to other managers as well… Even at clubs where the commandments from above are not as stringent. (See ManU losing, at home, to PSV, for example, in the last round.) That said, I’d have loved to throw on a teenager who cost 50 million pounds rather than an Olympiakos reject (Joel Campbell)…

    The polarization around the figurehead–if he’s got the job for life–IMO, doesn’t help. In tough situations we need our fans to get behind the club. From my stream it was hard to tell, but the place seemed to empty out early and all the noise I heard was from the Greek supporters. “I told you so” is a comfort for many Gooners, but it’s not one in which I’m willing to indulge. That’s just personal preference, and others are free to do as they may…

    The killer tonight was that Olympiakos was able to score so quickly both times after we did. What’s up with that? Is the pressure of expectations so high that players need a (mental or focus) breather after getting back to level? Nobody answered the question I posed in the match preview but, I’m guessing, all Gooners, like the players, maybe, were confident going into this one and hoping things would bounce our way. West Ham on opening day was (maybe) a similar failure.

    This begs the argument about whether a change in the figurehead would serve to let the air out of that group of supporters who want him gone. I’m sure it would and the new manager would at least be a neutral figure, rather than one who lures fans back through consistency and gradual improvement just to break our hearts all over again.

    That’s about all I can contribute to the Wenger out debate (which each disappointment engenders). He’s not going anywhere and we’ve got a 6 pointer against the league leaders on Sunday. Hopefully the players can close ranks and do better for that one… (Did anybody have a truly good match? Beyond the defensive breakdowns, what are the real problems out there? Those are questions in which I’m more interested, but ones I fear will not be “on topic” for at least a few days…)

    Sorry, gotta run…

  31. allezkev says:

    I keep on hearing rumours that Cech has a calf injury, but then he was on the bench?

  32. Admir says:

    17, you are spot on regarding the fans. I always feel like it’s a shame that Arsenal home fans sound less passionate than an average 80-year-old opera fan.

    United have actually lost at Eindhoven.

    About the figurehead – he has money on his disposal but doesn’t want to spend it. Fine by me if you deliver results. We have won six official matches and lost four so far. Apart from the daylight-robbery at Stamford Bridge, other three defeats were against teams that Arsenal should have beaten.

    The worst part is, you’re probably right. We would never got someone like Klopp (he said that his football is heavy metal-like but I think heavy metal is too loud for our board and Wenger – who will have a word on his heir) or Simeone (sadly, he is too much of Mourinho with the exception he was actually a very good player). It’s more likely we’ll stuck with some sort of our own Moyes who will bottle it so hard that days when mighty Dinamo (no serious attack against Bayern tonight) and Olympiacos (first ever victory in England) gave Arsenal back-to-back beatings look like a golden age.

  33. njk84sg says:

    Guys,

    Looks like we are as clueless as before.. about whether we will win or lose the next game.. if we still put displays like last night we will be hacked to death by manu**.. Gutted.

    Cech is a little short that was why he didnt feature yesterday. But short he was, he put in a good performance.. back in goal for him this weekend, and we should have a good game up front..

    Cheers,
    JK

  34. Gerry says:

    Well I watched the game from the comfort of .. my bed actually, and I thought we started brilliantly. Unfortunately we did not score with opportunities we were given, or created.

    From then on it became a bit more of a struggle, with them more confident, and us slowing down with the passing and movement. The goals conceded all had an element of farce about them, but I may be alone when I say I will defend Ospina …or as the clever headline writer put it …Oops pina.

    Our set piece defending has not been good, so when teams decide to do something different we can get caught out. I am not sure ,even after a few viewings, whether luckless Chamberlain flicked his heel out, or it moved because he turned. Either way, it left Ospina(or Cech for that matter) with zero chance of saving it. No point in blaming Ox either, for being in the wrong place, as he made some wonderful headed clearances from other set piece action. The big question on that one was, should somebody have been alert enough to block the shot at source?

    Now the controversial one which began with an unnecessary corner being given away. I said after the last time this CB pairing was used, Gabriel does not look as comfortable on the right. But in AW’s position what could he do? To play Per and have him play 4 matches in a row if he face United? Or end up using this combination in that game? Or play Chambers in this ‘must win’ game?
    But that was the build up, now to the corner. I think Ospina made a conscious decision not to try and compete with the tall defenders that went up for their corners. Instead, position himself to block any header coming his way …. even if it meant moving backwards, and knocking it down to gather it second time. You may recall he did a similar thing earlier? But on this occasion, for whatever reason, our defence did not push out very far, so when he stepped back he knocked the ball down on to the goal line. That in itself would not have counted as a goal, or at least it should not have? Now whether there was back spin on the ball that took it deeper into goal was impossible to tell. Only goal line technology could have decided that, despite the number of camera angles shown. What they did show was Gibbs nudging the ball out with his hand, and if that was seen, which I don’t think it was from the play that followed, before they realised the goal had been given? Then it should have been a red card for Gibbs and a penalty. A double whammy? So whatever the merits of the goal being awarded, and the touchline assistant had a clear view to see it, and had no hesitation about giving the goal, we were stuffed one way or another.
    Of course the arguments will be raised about was he the right ‘keeper? Woulld Cech have done it differently, and saved it? The answer is probably a resounding Yes! But then so would the giant Matt Macey, because they have a height advantage. For all the result being the final arbiter, I still think Ospna was the correct choice …. long term. He went on to make some good stops in the second half, and had no chance with the last goal. Again borne out of our eagerness to get on the attack after just equalising. They were simply in the wrong mind set when Olympiacos kicked off at the restart. They are a team, and as such must share the responsibility.

    Yet another dip on the roller coaster, and for those who are thinking the Europa League might be a good competition to win, may I remind you all we are in the bottom place in the group, and only the third place side gets invited into that league? Given that Liverpool blamed that distraction for their drop off in their PL form, may be we will be better off out of it?

    It is a shame that a game that promised so much in the first twenty minutes ended so badly. More problems ahead with Koscielny’s injury, and Coquelin coming off so early on? The TV guys suggested that Kos did a hamstring, but when I read up on his back problem it did say that it can affect the groin and thigh areas too. Either way he is likely to miss the United and the first Bayern game at the very least?

    Not many positives for TA to work upon. The main one being we can play some breathtaking football when we get it right. We just needed the goals to go in to pace ourselves better for the rest of the game. But credit Olympiacos for being a resolute opponents. They deserved their win base on their collective defensive efforts. Something we sadly, fell short of.

    Cheers

  35. njk84sg says:

    If we lost to olympiakos we have totally no go at Bayern.. so i will take it as 4 games lost

    Cheers,
    JK

  36. F11ngers says:

    Hello everybody
    I thought I would take this opportunity to give a quick opinion and then bugger off again. My opinions on this site have been known to be quite negative and revolutionary i.e pace, pace, pace and less Giroud, less tippy tappy Ozil and Cazorla more drive like Wilshere, OX and Rossa (basically detrimental to the overall rose tinted tiki taka world you have created here) but after last night I can’t see how I could do any more harm to the general feeling about the place especially seeing (as per usual) I have a completely different view about proceedings than everybody else lol.

    I really enjoyed the match, in fact I have really enjoyed the last week or so tbh. We didn’t look as subpar as usual when we played Chelsea and the result could have gone either way until the red card, a sign of progression in my mind. MOST IMPORTANTLY I now have another player I can put in the very scarce “has some f*cking balls” column at Arsenal, loved Gabriel’s performance – some spine, some aggression, some sense of sticking up for the other players, long may it continue I say.

    Then we beat spurs away, always brings a familiar smile to my face, and then the match last night…….

    It was like watching Arsenal of old, we were actually dangerous from an opposition’s corner – can you remember those days during the invincibles era. I think Keown said it best in commentary “they looked like the red arrows streaming forward” the pace was incredible and I actually have a screen grab at 9 mins 53 secs when we were five on two near their penalty area from their own corner down the other end – great stuff. We had a couple of chances to capitalise on those kind of breaks and we failed at both – oh well. If it was any other team we would have had more than that but Olympiacos at home, well you knew they were going to defend to the death and soon enough that’s exactly what they did, they hardly ventured out of their own half after that apart from about three times – each resulting in a goal lol.

    The goals then, a drilled off target shot from miles outside the penalty area that gets a deflection and goes in, nothing you can do about that, Ozil as much as I would love to blame him (as you know) was never in a position to actually get near the guy to close him down and the deflection was a one in a hundred chance result (unless your name is Lampard in which case you build your career around it) – so one freak goal.
    The second, our gaolie decides to throw it in his own net, nothing much you can do about that either lol, even though I personally don’t rate him (because of his diminutive size) to be fair his actual goalkeeping performances have been absolutely sound and I call bullshit on anyone who could have seen that coming, very uncharacteristic of Ospina – so two freak goals
    The third goal was a little more involved and I will cover it after talking about ours:

    Basically our two creative midfield pass masters produced bugger all last night, every through ball Ozil tried was obvious and cut out and Santi was left doing his usual thing of shooting/passing the ball into the goalkeeper’s hands. It was Sanchez who gave the assist to Theo to score and Theo who returned the favour for Sanchez to score. All night those two were making clever movements into the box and they were never found. Indeed it took AW to substitute Coq for Ramsey for a descent pass to come from midfield – Ramsey slipping Theo through on the right of the penalty area to chip it onto Sanchez’s head. But it came at a cost, no Coq meant when they went down the other end there was NOBODY there to close down their player just outside our penalty area (as Ramsey is still miles ahead of the play) and from there they had an easy ride to the goal, including some particularly lacklustre defending from my old friend Per lol.

    In every other reality the game would have ended 2-1 to us having proved yet again that pace can still work up top and score twice against one of the most prolific and well drilled “park the bus” teams in Europe I have ever seen, but thanks to two freak goals instead we’re f*cked lol.

    So the only real gripe I have about last night is why Wenger did not swap Ramsey for one of the ineffective Cazorla and Ozil duo and leave Coq on. If Coq was injured though surely he could have replaced him with Hayden or the new guy we bought in the summer… oh wait lol.

    That’s me done I will leave you to your philosophising, I just wanted to give you my intellectually stunted view on the matter.

    Oh and it wouldn’t be me without a line-up I suppose lol:

    Down with the Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey triangle
    Long live the Wilshere, Rossa, OX triangle – roll on Xmas lol

    ?????———–Sanchez———Walcott
    —–Wilshere—————The OX——–
    ——————-Le Coq———————-
    Gibbs——–Kos——-GP5——-Bellerin
    ——————–Cech———————–

    ????? position:
    Rossa? Too old maybe
    Campbell? Too shit maybe
    Iwobi? Too inexperienced maybe
    January signing? Too much to ask maybe?
    Left footed, pacey, winger/striker on the left to mirror Walcott on the right – Sturridge maybe? Lol he’s got the injury record of an Arsenal player already.

    Happy BKing people

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    I did not watch the game and just as well. I did listen to the radio, even though I had to endure to listen to the Chavs game’s commentary, which was 5live main game. I reckon it is just an anomaly and nothing to cry foul about. We cannot always make it to the next round and losing twice in a row is not the end of the world anyway. Bring on the Mancs and give them a fecking spanking… that is the way to respond to a little set back. COYG! 🙂

  38. ab says:

    No joy to be had commenting on the back of a poor performance and result.

    I no way does yesterday shake my view that Wenger is the best man for the job at Arsenal, but this was an off day in terms of section I fear. As with our first group game we have gone with rotation and ended up with a team that looks the part on paper, but is light on the field where it matters. Criticism that we should have fielded a full strength side is justified I fear. Clearly, we will need to view this game again once we know the result of this Sunday’s game – a win then and we might well judge this to be a reasonable bargain; anything less and we will have merely compromised on all fronts.

    Tonight’s CL results only add to the irritation of our last 2 performances, not least because both games could easily have ended differently.

    We have it all to do against manure. I have not heard what the assessment of Kos and Coq is for the weekend; the loss of both for this key game would be very harsh.

  39. Gerry says:

    ab – I hear what you are saying, but the reality is that only one position could have been left unchanged, and that of the goalkeeper. But we need our second keeper to be ready to step in at any moment, not be getting his agent to start looking for an alternative club in 3 months time, and not being distracted by that. He was after all, the same keeper who was part of that run that gained us automatic inclusion to the CL group stages. He is not a bad keeper, and one mistake does not make him one. Especially when the defence comprised him with the amount of room he had to work in? Not to mention poor defending as a unit that led up to all 3 goals?

    I concentrate your thinking on that bit of rotation because everywhere else Arsene was handicapped by the number of games played, and still to be played, in such a short space of time. I do not go along with the idea that the 5 days before the next game gives them enough time to recover because it ignores the 4 tough games that have already taken place. Fine in isolation.
    I said above, that I would have left out Kos, but we don’t know how fit Per is after his illness?
    I would not have started with Coquelin, and anybody who saw the game will have seen how high up the pitch he played, in an attempt I suspect, to avoid him making any tackles early on? That was left to Cazorla playing very deep. But change here is also challenged, with the alternative Ramsey, on a run of 6 consecutive games if he plays against United as well, or bring in Kamara for his debut? We remember what happened to Bellerin against Dortmund last season? Mind, what followed was a bonus, and could have been with Kamara too, who knows? But the press would have had a field day if he was the scapegoat?
    Up front that was, arguably our strongest line up?

    What I am saying is, it is too easy to fall in line with what the press like to run with, along with some of our ex-players who get a lot of air time. I think the only difference between this game being a comfortable victory was not scoring from any of those superb counter attacks we produced in the first 20 minutes. That play borne out of the rotated side that is being pilloried for what followed, I might add.

    There are no guarantees with the next game either, but if we can counter with that same group of players up front, I can see them really destroying United. But they have to get back to defending as a unit. Scoring early and pacing ourselves for more of the same later in the game will be key.

    It’s been missing lately, so here it is …. Keep the faith.
    Cheers

  40. njk84sg says:

    Gerry,

    Most of the time we have kept the faith but i feel that the more the keep praying that our team be more consistent that’s when they become less consistent.. tinkering is not the issue.. the issue is with the way the team performs as a whole.. and how we withstand attacks.

    Nothing much to say after a weird week which we scored 7 goals but conceded 5, and on sunday we meet a manu** that has been winning their past few matches.

    Cheers,
    JK

  41. allezkev says:

    Calum Chambers and Chuba Akpom in the England U21’s…

  42. allezkev says:

    Reiss Nelson scored a hat trick for the England U17’s in their 5-0 win over Armenia.

    Worryingly he’s the only Arsenal player in the squad…

  43. ab says:

    Hi Gerry. You are right, our choices were more limited in this game than in others. But still we chose Ospina ahead of Cech, Gibbs ahead of Nacho and Ox ahead of Ramsey – all marginal weakening of our first 11. Now I know we need to have a fit team for the weekend, but the criticism that we have put ‘more effort into qualifying for CL than to trying to win games once in it’ is not without some substance. The rotations for the first group game were more significant.

    Its a tough one I fear. Wenger has to rotate to keep people fit and healthy, and he has to try and judge who, where and when. I would want no one other than him to be making this judgement for us, but I’m not in the ‘infallible’ camp, so I think we just need to accept that the rotations (in part at any rate) may have cost us in the CL thus far, and that the selections – which looked sound on paper – have not proved successful.

    What was galling last time was that we had to play the chavs, and got shafted by some poor decisions. And now we have an equally tough game ahead of us. As before, I can only hope that we get the benefit of the rotations, with a fresh Rambo tearing up the pitch, ending his goal drought, and helping us to an invigorating win. Fingers crossed, but I’d far rather we were approaching this game on the back of a win (even if a tad tired), than feeling under the pressure of a loss and following a roasting in the press.

  44. Gerry says:

    ab – An excellent response when looking at whether getting 4th place or above against the prioritising league results once in the CL competition.

    To that I would say, if you are going to look at the bigger picture, then look at how virtually all the EPL teams have fared over these first two legs, and with the exception of the two wealthy Mancs clubs this week, all have struggled? Even the poorer (financially) Celtic have not found it easy to fit in mid weeks games on top of a league programme. What is the common link that our European rivals don’t seem to have? Perhaps AW is right, the demands of our league are that much more demanding, given that here there are more than just one or two clubs that can keep us out of top spot, and even 4th place is not guaranteed? Therefore the opposition can focus much more on these early rounds of the Cup, knowing that the rest of the season will take care of itself.

    That is the broader picture.

    When looking at AW’s decisions for individual games, you actually agreed that his selections looked, albeit ‘on paper’. But surely that is only hindsight over the way the game turned out that makes the ‘on paper’ team look poor? Apart from the whole team being responsible for the third goal, so you cannot isolate Gibbs for example, as being too far up the pitch because he was part of that ‘high pressing’ that meant we could/might get on the attack and may be snatch the winner. Of course that left us exposed, especially as we had lost Koscielny to injury, and Coquelin was subbed earlier – for Ramsey as it happens, so if you are looking for a scapegoat???

    Now if we come back to why the team did not succeed, I come back to my earlier point. I think they played exceptionally well in that first 20 minutes and should have been rewarded with a goal or two? That would have changed the complexion of the game completely. For a start the Greek team would have been very wary of committing too many bodies forward if they were going to get picked of on the counter? We could have paced our attacks to be able to repeat those strikes throughout the game. So why didn’t we score? Are we going back to the big ‘Transfer Window’ stuff again – Why didn’t we get a ‘world class’ striker? Why didn’t we get another DM to back up Coquelin?

    I am sorry ab, but I accepted the reality post TW, and realised that we will struggle this season. Not because we have poor players, or even a poor team. But the demands are such, and the margins are so fine, that every scoring opportunity has to be taken, and a lowly 6% return out of all the chances created simply proves my point. Even I thought we might get through this stage of the CL because of the teams we were drawn against, but no chance of winning the competition. The stats don’t lie v Olympiacos; 18 shots taken, only 9 on target, and only 2 goals.
    I said before the game if we cannot see off Olympiacos with the players we have, then we do not deserve to go any further in the competition. So I think Arsene made the right choices with what was available, as he can judge better than I if Kamara would made a difference, and right to put the Man U game ahead of a competition that we are not capable of competing well enough in.

    It comes back to my final statement yesterday, that JK took a slightly different meaning. When I say ‘Keep the faith’, I mean it in the sense of believing the team will do well in every game that they play, but not in the expectation they will win them all. But if not this one, the next one will be better.
    We have no divine right to win games. It is not about praying for results to go our way. It is about sticking with the team we support, and the next game is every bit as important as the last one, IRRESPECTIVE of the result. That is keeping the faith?

  45. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning guys 🙂

    Rare comment by Steve (F11ngers) above.

  46. njk84sg says:

    Gerry,

    Well, i know that keeping the faith means they must do well in every game. However to alot of Arsenal fans who are reading on the sidelines its time for the lads to get a kick up the a** and start performing better in our remaining games.

    Yes we have no right to win all, but lets not make stupid mistakes? At least staying compact and play well translates to at least a point. The league is now in a situation where all the teams have lost at least once and that means every point counts.

    So, keep the faith for a good Arsenal game played the Arsenal way 🙂

    Cheers,
    Jk

  47. Gerry says:

    Oh Stevie, how did I miss your post yesterday? I am guessing that when I whizzed to the last message I saw, and what I expected to see, That of TA’s.

    Interesting angle you put on things, but don’t play the ‘dumbo’ card eh, you can describe any moment of play as well as some well paid commentators. What you do do though, is be very selective in moments you choose to highlight.

    Okay, by all means dissect the first two goals, which you do very well, btw. I am not sure why it was left to Ozil to close down the spare man from the corner though? However, you seem to conveniently overlook the first twenty minutes where our counter attacking was right up your street (and mine as it happens), as it involved blistering pace, and our guy’s outnumbering their defence 5-3? Not once, but three times, although the last chance was not so clear cut. Could it be because it involved the guys you love to hate? My argument that I have given to ab above is, had we been successful in the TW re a clinical striker, then we would have been 2 – nil up and the game would have been ours to control. We didn’t, so for the time being we need to lower our expectations in terms of goals scored to chances created. It may have also passed you by, or you chose to ignore it? – this is me trying to encourage you back for further discussion, btw, – but both Ozil and Cazorla have the most number of chances created in the whole PL???

    But from your point of view, blinkered as it is, let’s just concentrate on the last hour or so of the game against Olympiacos. Leicester didn’t happen, when 4 of the 5 goals we scored were begun with balls from either Ozil or Santi, or both. So don’t let me ruin your fantasy that every thing in the garden will be rosy when JW gets back into action.

    Tempted for a reply?

    Cheers Steve, I miss your ‘would be perfect team layouts’ if only we played teams on paper? 😀

  48. NjkSG says:

    Guys,

    Especially Gerry, and to F11ngers, I miss you here. I say get your head and brain on and talk footy.

    I believe the other teams play in this manner: Cut out both Ozil and Cazorla and there our passing lifeline is gone. It has became too predictable. The reason why we are able to score more than 2 goals at Leicester was the reason that they wanted to score too, that was why they went all out and left their defense open.

    Against Manu**, we will see something more defensively tight and attack on the counter. Thus, we should not go with only Ozil and Cazorla. We should play Rambo on the Central area, meaning 2 AMs covering in DM position.

    The result: Play still goes on if one of the DM gets shackled. The ball will get passed to the next DM, and off he goes to test the defense. Alexis is in the form of his life, so we should use him in the central forward, putting Ozil just behind him. And seeing Alexis leaping like he is as tall as Giroud makes me feel that he is the one we really need.

    We should play Joel Campbell in this weekend’s game.

    What say you guys?

    Cheers,
    JK

  49. F11ngers says:

    Gerry lol you need to read my comment again i think bud (forth sentence especially), i was saying how nice it was to see pace and how i actually enjoyed the game (it was like times of old, and right up my street) – i don’t know what you read from it but i think we’ve obviously got our wires crossed here lol.
    So again i loved the match mate, simply let down by two insanely freakish goals.
    And that bit about Ozil was me actually defending the guy for once lol, in play back on the TV it highlighted he was the closest person to the guy who took the shot from outside the box and the commentators were saying he could have done more to close him down, but in all honesty mate he was fecking miles away and couldn’t have done anything about it.
    his (and Cazorla’s) passing for much of the match is a whole nother story though 🙂

    I just hope Wenger doesn’t see this as any great failing on the part of his pace up top approach and throw donkey back in for the Man U game. It was so nice to see runners in behind old style Arsenal as opposed to the hold up play and then play in runners from midfield approach that i have seen stagnate in recent seasons – i mean how many goals did Ozil, Ramsey and Cazorla score from open play last season? surely its better to have the main reliance for goals coming from strikers up top rather than low scoring midfielders running from deep?

    A front three of Campbell——–Sanchez———Walcott with Coq as the DM and take your pick of the remaining creative attacking midfielders to fill the two remaining slots in midfield.
    job done (until a better option for Campbell comes along lol)

    Hi JK,
    Good to hear from you bud, i hope all is well out there. I’m in the process of building a new pc so any comments will be few and far between atm but i hope that bit of footy talk is acceptable 🙂
    btw with you all the way on the Sanchez up front shout mate, he can jump as high as Giroud, finish better than everyone we have, has very quick pace, holds the ball up well (much better than Theo) and closes down well – what more do you want 🙂 Plus his passing hasn’t been too great this season so maybe concentrate on the finishing part of his game rather than his passing from midfield – from midfield to striker 100% 🙂

    Toodle loos

  50. TotalArsenal says:

    new post new post 😉

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