Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finally the dawn is upon us

Arsenal 2-1 Olympiacos 

Olympiacos is supposedly the weakest team in our Champions League group and before the game it was a popular notion that we will comfortably get past them. With raft of changes across the team, it was always going to be difficult for us to find rhythm in our passing. Song partnered BFG (Big Friendly German via Mr. Blogs) in our defence with the potato boy, Santos and Sagna on the side. Our new Brazilian had a game to forget against Blackburn and once again I was not particularly impressed with his defensive skills last night.

We started the game trying to find our footing but were easily broken down when tried to burst into the Greek side's defense. The first touch on the ball from Olympiacos resulted in a move from the left where we were lucky to not concede. It was not a pretty game in the first half much to the chagrin of Rosicky who looked completely out of sorts in the midfield. He was slow on the ball and made clumsy challenges all over the pitch. Arshavin was nowhere to be seen in the first half and most of the movement came via Oxman. His direct approach to the game is a whiff of fresh air for us fans who are frustrated with the overworked approach of Rosickys and Chamakhs to create or score goals. A peach of a pass from forward/midfielder/defender Song was deftly controlled by the youngster to lash past the goalkeeper for a fine finish and a European debut goal for Arsenal.

Olympiacos tried to open up the game immediately but were further punished in a counterattacking move when Chamakh was unable to put his boot at the end of a rolling Santos cross. Santos was on hand for the spillover and finished from a tight angle at the near post. It was the high point of the game for him as he misplaced his passes and was found short many a times for the remainder of the game. He looks more like a Brazilian winger currently deployed as a left back. Hope with time he can fine tune his radar and deliver on his defensive duties. Chamakh provided good link up play up front but was found wanting when he could have shot past the goalkeeper to make the scoreline 3-0.

We were made to pay for our naive defending when a short corner caught our defense flatfooted and Fuster was able to head the ball in from almost at the edge of the box. It was yet again an example of the lack of defensive understanding in the team. None of the player tried to prevent a short corner and Arshavin onlooked when Fuster was running in front of him to head the ball.

We were fortunate enough to not concede any more goals mainly due to our last ditch defending when Arteta cleared the ball off the line or due to Olympiacos' bad luck when Torosidis long range curling effort was denied by the woodwork. We looked short in our performance in the second half and barring a 10 minute renaissance period of Arshavin, we didn't have much to offer. The passing game didn't click yesterday which was understandable given the number of changes but few signs of complacency were visible. Sagna surprisingly looked off color and I'm worried about him for the upcoming game at WHL. He looked like a man desperately in need of rest. I hope he spends more time in the oxygen bubble until our trip to shiteland. It was a tricky game which didn't tell us anything new although it did showcase the attacking talent of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Song once again had a massive game playing out of position and now I begin to wonder how he would fare when played as a striker. I'm sure Songinho will fare well in that position too.

Our performance lacked solidity and discipline which will be required against an outfit much better than we have faced over the last three matches since Blackburn. The game on Sunday will feature Arsene on the touchline and hopefully he will be able to cajole our players to put in a good defensive shift. With Robin in flying form, we will be able to score goals against the Yids but it's our defense which still gives me nightmares. But until Sunday, I can enjoy our third win on the trot. I can see the sun rising on the horizon and it's about time for a bright Arsenal morning.

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