Arsenal 2-1 Olympiacos: Chamberlain & Santos secure hard fought win
A hard fought win secures a third straight victory for this patched up Arsenal team, and how welcome it is to be able to say that. Indivudually one vs one the defence perfomed admirably but collectively the defending was at the opposite end of the spectrum with the Gunners far too slow both in finding their defensive shape and closing the opposition down - facets time and familairity may mitigate. Arsenal-Land members provide their player by player take of the performance. Darren Bowser
Szczesny: by [Tubzinho]
Despite some shaky moments in front of him, Szczesny had a relatively straight forward evening. Nothing he could do about the goal and a couple of good stops first half was pretty much it. One aspect of his game tonight that was particularly pleasing was his distribution with his feet, something he has been criticised massively for recently. He was placed under some pressure a few times (particularly by Song) but he didn’t panic and dealt with the situation with ease. Another solid 90 minutes for one of the top young goalkeepers in world football. 6/10
Andre Santos: by [uv]
Santos improved as the game progressed. He started poorly in the first half and on a couple of occasions his lack of presence, due to his slowness in retracting, led to chances for Olympiakos on their right side. But in general, he was available as an attack outlet. Be it a quick one-two or a ball over the top, his attacking prowess was there to be seen. A pull back with a deft touch and the composure to slide it past the keeper gave him his first goal for Arsenal. The only question marks were over his defensive abilities and his fitness. 7/10
Alex Song: by [Bobross]
Tidy is one way to describe Song’s performance in defence. For a midfielder increasingly showing ability to make a difference at the other end of the pitch he slotted in to defence with ease. He showed good positional sense and understanding to play alongside Mertesacker. Effective at mopping up when called upon although guilty on a couple of occasions of allowing the opposition too much time and space in the box. The only real talking point of his performance was a sublime pass to set up Oxlaide-Chamberlain for the opener. 7/10
Per Mertesacker: by [adampembrey]
The big German had quite a solid game overall. We were cut open a fair few times but that tended to be on the wings. The fact that Szczesny wasn't troubled too much other than the goal and the strike that hit the bar shows that the centre of our defence was quite solid. The only minor criticism you could level at him is that as an established international perhaps he could have calmed the side down a little when we were under the cosh, but he's still a new player and will grow into that role soon I'm sure.
Bacary Sagna: by [adampembrey]
One of his more disappointing performances to be honest, especially in the first half, he was more solid in the second. I think one problem was that he was left a little bit exposed by Chamberlain at times. He did a lot of good things too, looked to support the attacks well and created space for Chamberlain by overlapping intelligently, however this performance won't make his 'best of' list by a long way.
Mikel Arteta: by [Albo]
A solid performance from the Spaniard. The most composed of our midfield trio and probably edged out Frimpong as the most industrious too. Always available for the pass from defence, Arteta knitted things together well in what looks like a team trying hard to find itself. Not easy that but he is fitting in nicely and assuming some responsibility too. His block on the line in the first half was heroic stuff as he spotted the danger when he was nearer to the far post. Ramsey and he linked up nicely later on which bodes well. 8/10
Emmanuel Frimpong: by [adampembrey]
Not his best game but he was ok. His energy and tenacity is a great asset and something we sometimes lack, however he needs to balance it up with a bit more control and composure. I think there are also possible question marks over his positioning, too often last night Olympiacos players found themselves in acres of space in the centre of the park where he should have been. Still he's very young and inexperienced and all this will come with experience.
Tomas Rosicky: by [Prolific]
Showing glimpses of good vision the inevitable happens with Rosicky not being able to step up a level. Having him as captain tonight was a joke to say the least. Injury woes have well and truly killed his career which indeed is a shame but sympathy doesn't go a long way in the competitive world. The bar Rosicky holds up is knee high which in turn sums it all up. Lacking pace and sharpness he should have gone off mid second half but management feel he deserves more game time than others showing more promise. 5/10
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: by [-jk-]
A bright and enthusiastic European debut for the young Englishman was capped with a terrific goal that set us on the way to victory. He started brilliantly, not afraid of picking up the ball inside or outside and linked up well with Sagna down the right, not only running straight at the opposing full back but cutting inside and playing nice little one two's. His goal was taken expertly too, neatly taken down on his chest and he had the vision to spot the space, run into it and cooly finish into the bottom corner. His performance was slightly shadowed however when after his goal the blood seemed to reach his head a little and his performance levels dropped. At times he began to give away possession and struggled to get back defensively. However that should not take away from what was a very promising performance. I was impressed with the way he uses his strength and body to keep hold of the ball rather than showing too much of it to the defender, like Theo is often criticised of doing. 7/10
Andrey Arshavin: by [adampembrey]
Quite a typical Arshavin performance really. Looked good going forward and created some opportunities, and tested the keeper with a good low shot at one point. However he also gave the ball away cheaply and didn't protect his full back enough. Like I say to summarise his performance last night you could pretty much just copy and paste what was written about him in most games over the last 9 months or so.
Marouane Chamakh: by [Tubzinho]
A mixed bag from Chamakh again. Seems a lot more alive up front and tried to play the "Van Persie" role as well as he could but he lacks the technical ability of the Dutchman, highlighted by how we held the ball better up front when he was substituted for him. Two positives of the game were a world class defence splitting pass second half to send Oxlade-Chamberlain clear and also I think he played with more purpose in his game to get on the end of things and play the role up front, something that was lacking the last 9 months or so. A lot of room for improvement but not the worst performance. 5.5/10