Report: Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal

80

Result: Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 20 February 2020
Venue: Karaiskakis Stadium

Arsenal: Leno, Sokratis, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Willock, Martinelli, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Subs: Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Pepe, Nketiah



Alex Lacazette’s late goal was enough for Arsenal to overcome Olympiacos in a scrappy encounter in Athens. The Frenchman tapped home Bukayo Saka’s low cross with nine minutes remaining to put us in pole position to qualify for the Europa League last-16. 
The win also stretches our unbeaten run to nine games in 2020. 

Pre-game

Mikel Arteta’s first European game as a coach saw him make five changes to the team that started against Newcastle. With his wife expecting a baby, Mesut Ozil stayed in London. As did, Lucas Torreira who was ill. That made room for Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi to start in midfield. Sokratis came in for Hector Bellerin at right-back, while Lacazette and Martinelli replaced Nketiah and Pepe respectively. The latter pair took up a place on the bench. Interestingly, the boss opted not to field Emi Martinez in goal. That Bernd Leno retained his place suggests an end to the cup competition keeper rotation favoured by Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery.

First half

With the home fans baying for blood from the stands an hour before kick-off, the hosts were always going to go hell for leather from the off. We were immediately on the back foot and lucky not to concede twice in the first five minutes. 

Leno made a great stop down low to his left to parry Valbuena’s volley away from danger and a header at close range from Masouras went just over. 

The opening stages were played at a frenetic pace but bit by bit we gradually started to exert our game. Aubameyang playing on the right of attack played a teasing cross that was just out of reach of Lacazette. Soon after, a deft backheel by Martinelli came close to freeing Auba. But not quite. 

When a shot did come, Lacazette should have done better. The Frenchman had tried to play in Martinelli initially only to overhit his pass. The Brazilian was forced to spin on a sixpence, rolled the ball back to Laca and the net should have bulged. His effort flashed wide. 

Leno did well to prevent a Luiz own goal when the centre-back slid to cut out a cross but that was a rare foray forward by the Greeks as we controlled things in the midfield. 

Saka was a nice outlet on the left even though he grew frustrated by his own lack of end product. Lacazette shared a few words of encouragement with the youngster. Joe Willock was also a lively presence, often wriggling away from challenges to kick-start a push forward. 

While we controlled things, further clear cut chances were not forthcoming. A Xhaka free-kick, won by Willock, briefly panicked keeper Sa when it took a nick off Martinelli and. just before the break, Lacazette had a speculative effort deflected over at close quarters.

Second half

Sloppiness was prevalent from both sides as the second half desperately tried to splutter into life. Early on, Lacazette went over in the box looking for a penalty when he should have shot and Luiz fired a free-kick wide that never looked like troubling the keeper. 

At the other end, Mustafi put us in trouble with a lax played out from the back. Luckily the Greeks squandered the opportunity to do something meaningful with our defence at sixes and sevens. 

Just before the hour mark, Arteta decided to mix things up. Martinelli, who had been pretty quiet, made way for Ceballos and he took up the number 10 position with Willock moving to the left.

Lacazette’s underwhelming evening continued. A header from a Xhaka cross went wide, even when an Olympiacos arm diverted it closer to goal, and he failed to pick out Aubameyang having been played in behind the defence. 

An offside flag would have denied Ba a goal had his header on 72 minutes made it pass Leno. The German didn’t know that though and made a great save. He was called into action four minutes later to stop a long-range free-kick that skipped off the turf just in front of him.

With 15 minutes remaining Pepe replaced Willock. The Ivorian went to the right, Auba came left. Not much changed. If anything we got worse. We really struggled to keep the ball and in response, the Greeks pushed forward and the noise grew louder. Leno was composed between the sticks, punching clear whenever the opportunity arose. 

Out of nothing, we bagged a precious away goal. Aubameyang did brilliantly to collect a long diagonal ball on the left flank and with Saka making an overlapping run, he quickly played in the 18-year-old. Unlike in the first half, the left-back kept his head to play a fine ball across the box for Lacazette to tap home. Two in two for the Frenchman who up to that point had endured a very frustrating evening. (1-0)

We really should have buried the tie after that. Keeper Sa denied Lacazette a second, Sokratis hit the bar with a thumping header and Mustafi couldn’t get the rebound on target. Still, a clean sheet and win on the road aren’t to be sniffed at. The Greeks visit the Emirates in a week’s time. Before that we face Everton on Sunday.

guest
80 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
backsakacrack

Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. That was a shit lineup from Arteta.

PGunner

Behave. We won. Be happy.

backsakacrack

Don’t kid yourself, we got very lucky there. Starting only 4-5 players in their natural position was stupid and it showed.

PGunner

Not kidding myself. Just happy we won, kept a clean sheet and should progress to the next round. I like a great all round performance as much as the next gooner but we haven’t had one of them in a while so I’ll take the 1-0 and sleep beautifully tonight.

tanned arse

‘Very lucky’ is quite overstayed. An uninspiring game where we created a tap in and they created nothing nearly as clear cut. 1-0 is about right and a professional job well done

WENGERBALL

We are only the second team this season to win at Olympiacos, after Bayern Munich, who got a difficult 3-2 victory there and we just got a clean sheet at one of the most difficult away grounds in the world and really killed their flow. How is this bad?

Drewkernster

I agree that was a terrible line up. Especially with Auba on the right? Willock needs to go on loan next season he still plays like he’s playing U23 footy he needs to learn quickly at the top level you don’t get 5 chances to twist and turn twist and turn before you release a pass like thats semi pro stuff. He had a shocker today. Also Sokratis at RB? When AMN is fit? Why? Very questionable line up and wasn’t balanced. Also the substitutions were poor. Martinelli coming off was a bad decision, willock should’ve been off first. Lots… Read more »

GoonerJust

Yeay, Laca brooke his away goal drought…..hope it continues to away PL matches!

Henkamp

Leno? Loved that he started.

Sokratis? Deserved a start and did well.

So, who would you have put in considering that Torriera and Ozil were unavailable?

Anonymarse

It was so boring I turned it off

Good result tho

Randy

Poor comment. Really even if you are a half Arsenal fan and you put it off at half time. I live a long way away and would love to see every game. 90 minutes regardless. I just always think of this site as one for real Arsenal fans is all…

Anonymarse

It was just so slow …

ScotchEggsRule

Fairweather….

Matthinc

Agree. Auba on the right was criminal. And Sokratis at RB behind him when AMN is available? It just didn’t compute for me.

Saka though. Wow we’ve got a player there. I LOVE him.

Storm

Had anything good ever happened with this starting lineup? How many times does Arteta need to try this lineup? We were toothless and watching this lineup is very frustrating like just praying for the spectacular or miracle goal to happen but in reality it’s the opposite. Agaisnt a better side we would have been cleanly punished.

G-Man

Defensively solid under Arteta. Once the transition from midfield to attack becomes silky, we will start to be feared. I really like what I see and I’m proud of the resilience. COYG!!

Sean

You’re right about the transition from midfield to attack, and on tonight’s basis that’s more related to team selection than anything else. There are parts of Willock’s game I really like, but my word, he can be frustrating in that no10 role. If Ozil was silk on Sunday then Willock was pretty much the opposite this evening. Hoping he’ll learn in time.

Swifty

Win!

Evang. Simon

We did it in Greece guys!

Now unto Everton next….

Arteta is the real G.O.A.T

Jack

Give Saka whatever number it takes to sign a 5 year deal. The kid is UNREAL

G-Man

I’ve been trying really hard not to get too excited, too early but my goodness this boy can play!

goonero

He’s got everything to be the best attacking left back of his generation, he reminds of young Alaba or maybe Lahm, tireless and decisive in attack and defence. Tierney will have to move mountains to get him out of there.

goonerrah

He is nothing like Alaba, who was good but overrated. Lahm is one of the best RB in the last few decades but he is a RB by trade.

Saka is a LM or a LW naturally. He plays LB because he’s that good. Gareth Bale played LB but he didn’t stay there because he was too good.

Reality check

Arteta doesn’t really play Saka like a conventional LB, he’s essentially playing like a LM to his strengths. Xhaka covers LB so he doesn’t have to run up and down the flank all game and cover the defense.

Litejk

Mustafi man of the match. Never thought I would write this. 🙌 In Mikel we trust.🙌 In two years we are top 3.

Rufusstan

He still did another ‘Mustafi’, which automatically disqualifies him from being man of the match. the fact that we got away with it this time says more about the rest of the team than him

Henkamp

Luiz Mustafi producing clean sheets? That was simply unthinkable months ago.

Curious as to whether Arteta will ever play Auba up top, though.

Flash

The long ball before our goal was also delivered by Mustafi

ScotchEggsRule

That was a cracking pass.

gooner

considering he’s been playing on the wing most of his career and scored lots from out wide. Don’t be fooled by the number 9 role in the Bundesliga. It’s always end to end counter attacking football and almost no need for hold up play or holding off strong challenges from central defenders.

His best position is out left.

Mentalista

Bundeswhat? Auba played up front in many games under Wenger and Emery and delivered every time.

Santori

He’s better out left…but he scores from most positions.

The problem with him up top is he isn’t a physical bully…he prefers to run into the ball.

Many teams we face basically constrict space in the box which will and has limited his chances before.

He is better cutting in off a main striker who can manufacture space.

Tony Hall

Glad we won and kept a clean sheet. We need to stop playing our best centre forward on the right or left wing though because I bet Auba would have out away a couple of the chances Laca missed.

Flash

I don’t know why are we forcing Willock in the No. 10 role…

goongot

because ceballos did fck all when he played there and we are yet to resign santi.

BrazilianGooner

I dont think Ceballos did bad as a #10. I was hoping to see him play there since Ozil was out

Drewkernster

EXACTLY I’ve been saying this. Willock is not a natural CAM he’s a box to box midfielder more like an 8…he doesn’t have the vision, passing or dribbling to play 10 I would’ve played guendouzi as 10 he’s got great vision for a final pass. Remember his first game for us against Chelsea? He was literally utting through their midfield and defense with splitting passes it was as if he was Ozil and he was playing from deep. His passing and visionnare that good. Willock needs to go on loan next season.

NMArsenal

Guendouzi and vision? He does play a great pass every 5th match or so at best.

Sadly Arsenal doesn’t have good technical AMF like Ozil and they used to.

Drewkernster

Arsenal had one his name was iwobi remember we we sold him to everton. What a bad bad decision. He could’ve been playing in his preferred 10 CAM role by now and who knows he may actually be killing it right now under Arteta. Such a shame. Now we have to go buy a CAM in the summer that’ll cost us no less than 40m for a decent CAM

Nicholas Hattersley

Third clean sheet in a row. Not always convincing but we ground it out against a tough side.

Up North

Not a game for the history books, but away win and clean sheet are precious. Solid in defence, scrappy in midfield, the Guendouzi/ Xhaka partnership slow down our play considerably

Gunner 55

Frustratingly slow, my goodness!!

Venga Bus

They’re all working their arses off

Rich

We got away with one.

Neither Aubameyang or Martinelli are suited to playing on the right, and Sokratis obviously isn’t a right back.

Xhaka had one of those days, and Guendouzi did nothing but get kicked, we really struggled to exert any type of control.

The young players have been all that’s got me in my seat this season, if we don’t renew Saka’s contract? Then I’m giving up my ticket and taking up golf.

Man Manny

Not a bad result all things considered.
But 1-0s could be dicey in Europe.
This game is by no means over, but I am confident the boys will be up for it.

AussieGooner

I did pick up on some anti-Mustafism in this report, mentioned just twice and both times negative.

Yes there was one moment of a poor clearance, but by focussing on that and ignoring the poor clearances and bad passes by everyone else it does betray some bias there.

I thought he played another positive game, with some good work to contribute to an away clean sheet against some aggressive opposition.

Can we stop focussing on people’s faults? It just sounds so negative.

A decent result and okay performance in what was a tricky fixture. Happy with this.

Diaminedave

I’m with you on that. Made 6 defensive headers. Only key pass in game! Most passes by anyone on the pitch

Website

Exactly.

ScotchEggsRule

Well said mate. He could morph into the next Baresi and still get slammed by Arseblog.
He played a blinder yesterday, my vote for MOTM.

Laca New Signing

He also played the long ping ball to Auba that created the goal. Kill Mustafi when you have to but for fuck sake give him credit when due. Mustafi was our motm in Greece.

Pakgooner

With whatever variety of players starting in the first XI, Arteta is slowly embedding a style of playing, like the kind we saw when we scored and in the end and when we were still raring to go knowing their players are tired. That is something I’ve seen City doing when they beat us 3-0 at the Emirates in December and were still threatening after the lead. That is what Arteta said about us being “ruthless”, but it will be a slow process

ankit raghav

Arsenal should sign Carlos Bacca, play Saka further forward and convince both Kaká and Steve McManaman to come out of retirement, in order to form a magnificent Kaká-Xhaka-Macca-Saka-Laca-Bacca front six

Kostas

So you propose football philosophy of tiki t…

Ollie1Roddy

Willock isn’t at the level. Good lad, but lacks a bit too much quality to be a part of this team. Lets sell him somewhere he will get minutes.

Kostas

He has good engine. He could be a power sub in the mid if we are winning

Reality check

Power is not what you associate with Joe at this point in time. He’s really light on his feet, easily pushed away. He’s still developing physically so it’s not something to worry about.

JeremyDG

stupid.

Ollie1roddy

He is another one of many soso attacking midfield players we’ve had come from the academy recently that run alot, we all say “they are very good for a 20 year old” and then are doing the same stuff when they are 23/24, we grow bored and want them sold.

He will go to an Aston Villa in 2 years for 20M, we will wish him well and that will be that. I hope for more but there is just nothing shining in his game.

Ozilian

I don’t know the joy arteta gets From playing players out position…
Pls enough of auba playing wide… It’s nonsense.. I will rather have Nelson or martinelli there … We need only one center forward in a game… except 4 4 2..
He might offer alot in training but in the matches which I watch theres nothing special in willock..
He’s frustrating to watch… Like Ramsey wen Emery tried to play him as a 10..
Pls our Frontline must be pepe martinelli or Nelson on the flanks then one striker

Espen

Artetaaa 😀 just wine and call it shit you poor ahole fans. I don’t care, we finally won 1-0 in a right match were we usually loose.

GraeB

I seem to remember many on this site saying they’d love to see some scrappy 1-0s with clean sheets on which to progress. You’ve got them so cut the boring comments and enjoy being the only Premier League team unbeaten in 2020.

Ealing

Exactly

Smile mate

What is Martín Keown’s problem?
Can he crack a smile at anytime,2 wins,and he’s still slating Arteta.

Teryima Adi

Keep unleashing Saka at the opposition. We’ve got our own Gareth Bale.

GunRag

Was a decent performance tonight.
Seems like we do not have a left winger at the club other than Pepe at the moment.

chepetin

Funny

GunRag

Oh man…I got that wrong.I meant right wing. Pepe is the only one who plays effectively there at the moment.Martinelli, Auba weren’t able to affect the game too well when they played there.

Laca New Signing

What are Saka and Martinelli then?

GunRag

From the last few times I have seen Martinelli play, he seems to be more effective from the left and the centre.
And Saka, yea I suppose he would be able to do a good job from the right too, considering he is doing a fantastic job down the left and seems to be exceptionally talented. It’s so cool when the game seems to slow down when he has the ball.

Kostas

MA apparently stop the nose diving.
Lacazette still sluggish, hopefully not for long.
Saka. Oh. My. god.

The Arsenal

Good result. only Bayern have won here this season. I think we need 2 or even 3 centre mids. People have to face reality with the guys we have. I like them and they are good players. But none of them are great players and they all have massive weaknesses in their game. You can see it in our play. Its not a matter of effort and fight anymore. We are where we are in the league because we have the poorest midfield in terms of what is required nowadays. The comparison between Ozil and debruyne for example.

NMArsenal

Laca as CF just doesn’t work. Laca does some CF work good but he is so bad with the hold up play. Anytime he gets pass in MF with his back on goal he barely does anything with the ball. He can’t pass well his off the ball isn’t great either. He doesn’t create space for others

samu

he can’t beat a man either

nocaps

player of the season last year because of what then?

Laca New Signing

STFU! He scored one and created one at the weekend and last night but still “doesn’t work as CF”? WTF! Did you see his hold up and turn for the assist to Özil vs Newcastle? My friend you’re either hating on him or just looking for some controversy. Laca is a proper traditional number 9 – a rare species nowadays.

Santori

Very tetchy affair. We seem hesitant again to commit too much. Arteta signaled caution with selection of Sokratis at Rback. Frankly I would have gone for AMN. Also our front players again careless with ball or could not find decent touches to keep the ball albeit they did do well hunting it back down. In the end another clean sheet with Luiz-Mustafi even if we had many heart stopping moments albeit neither centre backs did anything too wrong today. Midfield IMO still an issue as we don’t have someone who can bully or keep the ball, run through the middle… Read more »

Man Manny

Did you see the few minutes AMN was on the field? He kept tracking back and allowing players into our box.
I cringe at the thought of what would be if he started.
MA studied the Oly team all week; I am sure Sokratis, in his mind, was the best to check the threat from their left. I think it worked.

xjert02

Good result, I did not like the performance going forward. Jerky, rought, without ideas, no playmaker raised up, low intensity. And I definitely dont like the way we always slow down the play, when we can be dangerous in transition and penetrate. Penetration makes the teams danger nowadays. Compare Champions League football to Europa League one and you can see the difference. Intensity, first touch, dribling, smaller spaces between lines etc. Still lots of work to do.

Liam Bergkamp

So now that in the same team we often have XhakaLacaSaka we need to get Kaka out of retirement to play for us!
We could always add Paka Bonner (although he might be a bit nacka-rd now!), Jacka Wilshere, Steve Maca (McNamananananananan) and then before games they could all the do the Haka in Dhaka before they revert to playing tika taka!
And if you know your music you might even remember Was Not Was – Boom boom aka laka laka boom!

Liam Bergkamp

Damn, just seen someone in the earlier comments had almost the same thoughts!