Fun night all around. First off the high definition broadcast is simply amazing. Up till now, I’ve only seen Chelsea or some other team in HD, and crap in HD is still crap, though in HD you get to see what they had for dinner last night.
Second, I had company as Phil the mechanic came over and helped me re-assemble the rear rotor and tire on my motorcycle. I had already spun through the first half of the recording when he showed up and after I served him some dinner we fired up the second. For him, a novice football fan, to see those two Arsenal goals must have been a bit, erm, odd.
The first goal was as “Arsenal” a goal as I have ever seen. The move starts with Song winning the ball, and his subsequent mispass falling to Eboue who quickly lobbed forward, where Robin van Persie had dropped deep to claim the ball off his chest with what Wenger hails as amazing touch, and it was. Robin drops the ball for Cesc and starts his attacking run. Cesc carries the ball forward, and picks out Eduardo who had timed his run off the shoulder perfectly and who expertly controls the ball, dribbles to the end-line and puts the ball in just about the only place where the keeper couldn’t get to it and there’s Robin van Persie who simply puts in a rare left-legged goal.
It’s funny too, because when the goal came I had just been complaining to Phil about how Olympiacos literally had 10 men in their own half for the first 70 minutes. I think when Sky showed the possession stats at 58 to 42 in favor of Arsenal I scoffed that Olympiacos couldn’t possibly have had 42% of the ball. In fact, the Telegraph shows 66% in favor of Arsenal, which I think is still generous for Olympiacos. Maybe they saw 34% of the ball when their keeper was picking it out of the net.
Irregardless the stats, it was great to see the club break down a stalwart opposition who clearly came to the Emirates and parked the bus. Last year, getting a result against a team like that wasn’t a guarantee. This year, I honestly never felt like the result was in doubt.
ESPNSoccernet: Arsene Wenger continued the quest for the one thing missing from his Arsenal CV as the Gunners maintained their 100% record in Champions League Group H with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos at Emirates Stadium.
Telegraph: Arsène Wenger has mocked those urging him to spend the club’s latest profits, pointing out that the transfer window is closed and “you don’t buy players at Waitrose’’. If you could, Arsenal’s manager would be the one peering over the Continental produce counter, hunting more bargains like Robin van Persie, who cost only £2.75 million.
The Arsenalist has the highlights today!
Man of the Match
A bit tough here as I can see arguments for Arshavin, Cesc, van Persie, and Song. After the match, the boss pointed to Arshavin’s close quarter skills as a decisive factor against a team that tries to shut up shop. Robin van Persie in the goal that broke the game open showed his hard work, control, and importance to this team overall. And Song was easily our most mature and calm player on the pitch, holding the ball in their half, and for much of the second half playing as one of only two midfielders as we switched to a 4-2-4. Hell, I could even see an argument for Eduardo who simply came on to the pitch, with a muscle injury, and immediately changed the game.
But, because he was involved in every attack, just missed a goal for himself by the slimmest of crossbars, had a hand in both goals, and because he looked like his old self, I’m giving Man of the Match to Cesc. Here’s hoping he can keep this form through the weekend.
Arsenal have now won 5 matches in a row and have kept 4 consecutive clean sheets. Moreover, this same team last year was incapable of breaking down teams who played for the draw, but last night I never felt like the result was in danger.
As I’ve already pointed out, Song looked very assured in the midfield, Arshavin looked predatory, Cesc was on his game, Eboue looked great as right back and reminded me of why he was a fan favorite 3 years ago, van Persie worked his ass off, and Eduardo came on and simply changed the game. Wenger says that the team has matured and if last night’s performance is any indication I agree wholeheartedly.
I also want to give a shout out to the crowd who were awesome for 85 minutes. Yes, they went home after Arshavin scored the second, but who can blame them? It’s late on a Tuesday and who wants to be sitting on a train platform for an hour after the match?
Bad quote of the day:
The only thing I was slightly disappointed with was Arsenal’s continued inability to put in a good ball off a set play. Yesterday they tried everything, even Arshavin had a crack at a dead ball, yet it didn’t matter who took the free kick, they can’t seem to get the ball over the first defender. FRUSTRATING.
Anyway, it’s a minor thing, and is completely overshadowed by this mind-bogglingly stupid quote:
It was not just us sitting back and not playing. We went forward, but could not get any passing going and suffered from Arsenal’s way of playing. — Olympiacos manager Zico
Uhhh, lobbing the ball out of your end for our defenders to collect is not “going forward.”
Ugly sentence of the day
The Telegraph serves this gem up:
Clad in funereal black, the Greeks performed as if auditioning for one of Sophocles’ tragedies and their complete lack of joie de vivre was a contrast to Arsenal’s effervescence, not to mention the playing days of their coach, Zico.
Only the English language can take a Germanic structure, toss in a smidgen of Greek, French, and Latin and output this turd of a sentence. Oh and yes, it’s pronounced few-ner-e-al which rhymes with venereal.
Arsenal are now on maximum points in our Champions League group and in complete control of our own destiny. Winning this group was considered a given after the draw and seeing our form over our first two opponents — coming back from 2-0 down against Liege and opening up a doggedly defensive Olympiacos — you’d have to think we are clear favorites.
Arsenal now have 5 days to recover before they face Blackburn on Sunday. It’s another home game so that means no traveling and maximum rest for the squad after two big games.
After last night’s determined performance, they’ll probably relish the rest.