Report: Olympiacos 1-3 Arsenal (inc. goals)

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Result: Olympiacos 1-3 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 11 March 2021
Venue: Karaiskakis Stadium, Athens

Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Willian, Saka, Auba

Subs: Ryan, Hein, Holding, Cedric, Chambers, Mari, Elneny, Ceballos, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette


Goals from Martin Odegaard, Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny secured an impressive 3-1 win for Arsenal against Olympiacos as Mikel Arteta’s side survived another defensive calamity.

The Gunners deserved the lead given to them by Odegaard’s thunderous first half effort but wobbled after the break when Youssef El Arabi levelled following a defensive mix-up between Bernd Leno and Dani Ceballos.

A thumping header by Gabriel restored the lead with 10 minutes remaining before Elneny, on as a sub, hammered home a third from distance to make us favourites to qualify for the Europa League quarter-finals.

Pre-game

Mikel Arteta made two changes from the side that started against Burnley, both in defence. Hector Bellerin replaced Calum Chambers at right-back and Gabriel took over from Pablo Mari as David Luiz’s partner. Willian’s third consecutive start meant Pepe had to settle for a place on a strong bench which included Emile Smith Rowe who was back from injury.

First Half

Mikel Arteta had hinted earlier in the week that Arsenal were harbouring a grudge against Olympiacos and his side started like they wanted revenge for last season’s exit at the hands of the Greeks. In the opening 10 minutes, we barely let the home side out of their half as we pressed high and snapped into challenges. We created good chances too.

Odegaard should have put us ahead on two minutes but scuffed a shot after a tidy Tierney cutback and Aubameyang, four minutes later, was denied by a fine save keeper Jose Sa. The striker’s header, with a slight deflection off Sokratis’ shoulder, looked destined for the net before he tipped the ball onto the bar.

We couldn’t to dominate with Saka and Odegaard busy in the middle of the park, trying to keep the tempo high. Partey blazed over before David Luiz and Aubemayang both stung the keeper’s palms with free-kicks from 25-yards.

Of course, with Arsenal, you’re never too far from unnecessary drama and when Odegaard went full Xhaka with a sloppy pass across the defence, we were lucky that Bruma’s shot was straight at Leno.

The Norwegian had a short spell where he looked a bit flustered but he soon reset himself. A neat pass freed Aubameyang who tried turning his defender when an early shot might have been the better option. Two minutes later, he smashed home his first goal in Arsenal colours.

There didn’t seem much on when he received the ball from Saka 35-yards from goal, but after taking a touch to tee himself, he hammered a rocket of a left foot effort that flew into the roof of the net. Keeper Sa might have done a bit better but that shouldn’t detract from the sweetness of the strike. (1-0)

Having worked hard for our lead, it was very frustrating that we seemed to get complacent once we had it. For the umpteenth time this season, our eagerness to play out from the back caused us issues and we were lucky not to concede. David Luiz trying to make a pass to Partey inside his own box had the ball stolen off him and Georgios Masouras went face-to-face with Leno only to fluff his lines. It was a real let-off when his shot flew wide.

Having used the break to clear our heads, the Gunners seemed to have restored order. The midfield recycled lots of loose play by the Greeks and we made good headway down the wings.

Arteta seemed confident enough to switch things up on 55 minutes. We know Partey has had his injury issues so perhaps with one eye on the North London derby, he relieved the Ghanaian of his duties and sent on Ceballos.

Inside two minutes, the Greeks levelled. And yes, you guessed it. It was all our own doing.

Arsenal went all the way back, back, back to Leno, who made a terrible decision to pass to the newly introduced Spaniard who was crowded by two players. Under pressure from El Arabi, he had the ball taken off him and the man who caused us so much pain at the Emirates last season slotted past Leno who was still backtracking into his area. Given the regularity of our calamitous play, we might as well wear clown outfits at this point. It was ridiculous defending. (1-1)

Having been totally out of the game, the Greeks suddenly fancied their chances of a win. They had a real opportunity to take the lead after some lovely passing but went just wide.

At the other end, Odegaard was doing his best to wriggle out of challenges but more often than not he was met with a wall of red and white. We continued to persist with our intricate play only for cross after cross to miss their intended target. That was until the 80th minute when a short corner was played to Willian who clipped a ball to the back post where Gabriel rose high to crash home a timely header. That the Brazilian absolutely crunched Yann M’Vila in the process made it all the more enjoyable. (2-1)

A triple substitution, which was due to happen before the goal was scored, followed. Pepe, Elneny and Smith Rowe came on for Odegaard, Saka and Willian. We should have extended our lead immediately when Bellerin flashed a dangerous ball along the goal line. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for the third. Elneny got on the ball in the Olympiacos half, drove forward and unleashed an outswinging effort that found the net off the post. (3-1)

A two-goal cushion heading into the second leg puts us in a very strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals. It also sets us up nicely for this weekend’s clash with Sp*rs.

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C.B.

They were poor, should have been 3-0 but we are looking good!

Maniac

Our individual mistakes, especially when passing round the back are incredibly concerning though. Leno to Luiz, Odegaard to Leno, Leno to Ceballos, etc. At some point you’ve got to realise that the pass is just too risky and make the sensible decision to get it away from danger, even if it costs you possession.

Tcfcfc

It’s the most consistent thing about our game, we are going to fuck it up at least once a game playing it out of the back.

That being said how many of our goals stem from playing like this…. One for by the numbers

SB Still

Their equaliser, I would say it wasn’t an individual error but problem with the tactics. The pattern of play has been the same for many matches, Leno doesn’t kick it long, the CBs are split, he passes to one of them, gets the ball back, passes to the midfielder closest in or around the box, irrespective of what pressure that midfielder is under. That midfielder either passes back to Leno or ideally the RB or the LB (may well be Xhaka there, with Tierney pushed up)! Put the midfielder under pressure blocking out the two passing options, then we are… Read more »

miike

i completely agree, it’s no coincidence that olympiakos were pressing very well. They knew what the usual passing options were and closed it down, it was very clear to me that it wasn’t luck but gameplan that forced those errors.

It’s not a coincidence that their only chance creation came off of pressing. They didn’t even counter attack well.

Runcorn Gooner

Why does Leno regularly pass out central to a player with his back to the action. It’s inviting trouble and a game we should have been leading by 3 goals is all square.

Arteta has to tell him to use his brain in those situations as it’s doing my heart no good.

Anonymarse

Always need to score plenty of goals because we always gift something to the opposition

BillyKrystal

Idk what was finer, the margin by which Odegaard’s shot crept under the bar, or his baby’s breath wisp of a goatee he’s got.

SB Still

Relived with the win but the way we shoot ourselves in the arse has me worried about the 2nd leg, even with lead and away goals in hand.

Maniac

Individual quality saving us from what could have been some very costly individual mistakes.

Johnny 4 Hats

It’s starting to quickly become Mikel’s problem because Leno, Cedric, Holding, Ceballos, Luiz and Xhaka have all cost us recently. So although it’s individual errors, it’s a collective problem.

Still, can’t bemoan a 3-1 away win. Saved by the angel Gabriel. What a leap. I was glad Momo buried it too as the Greek defenders looked like they were literally praying for him to shoot.

We march on. COYG!

Timorous Me

I get what you’re saying, and I’m not opposed to Arteta coming under some scrutiny, but when you look at these errors (and others that you didn’t mention that we got away with!), I don’t see much of a pattern other than individual and often inexplicable brain farts.

Look at the Odegaard one today that we luckily got away with. That pass makes no sense, it’s just suicidal, and I can’t imagine that’s what Arteta wanted.

We really do need to get this shit out of our system–and soon!

The Arsenal

Its a system that does not suit shit players…Even city make the odd mistake with WC players and a coach who has been there for 5 years.

Man Manny

You shouldn’t be worried about the second leg: this tie has been won and lost. The Olympiakos I saw today is not capable of scoring 3 unreplied goals at the Emirates.
You should rather worry about this weekend.
Any fumblings will be brutally punished.

Jack

Elneny has Odegaard posters on his bedroom wall

John

🙂

Adrian Drum

Nah. Odegaard has MO’s poster. Don’t disrespect best MF in the world.

I thought this match was going to give us another “I’m tired Robbie” meme but thankfully it wasn’t to be. You never know what you’re going to get with this Arsenal team. Sometimes the team responds and sometimes they don’t. I wasn’t happy to have the subs made so late. Interesting to see a match with multiple long-range goals though I must say that was a bullet header from Gabi, he really is a great header of the ball. On another note, Europa League aside, the majority of our league fixtures are in London, home and away. I hope this… Read more »

Blahblah

Well we only deal out BnBs: Blinders and Blunders

Alex

One of the most frustrating wins ever.

0-0 “Wasting chances”
1-0 “Great strike Odegaard”
1-1 “FFS WHAT IS LENO DOING? AND WHY IS ARTETA MAKING THIS HAPPEN?”
2-1 “Gabriel has saved the manager from egg on his face”
3-1 “ARTETA MASTERCLASS”

evaristus asobara

What is with Arsenal and heart attack inducing defending? For once give me a boring 3-0.

Jay

Is Martinelli ever going to play for us again? If he can’t even be trusted to play when 3-1 up..

Harryshambles

I’m at a loss with what’s happened here. He looked like a complete player last season, one of the most exciting prospects in the League let alone the club and now he can’t even get a minute

afl

Arteta happened!

bob

How are you at a loss? Martinelli picked up what would be a career threatening injury 20 odd years ago. He is a genuine world class talent that Arteta has heavily relied on in the past, being eased back into action, especially considering his playstyle is very aggressive. Worst case scenario is he bajanxes himself again and loses his pace. The club have so much more analytics on player condition, so maybe give them a little benefit of the doubt. In reality, and what is probably the most sensible for the players long term prospects, is that he will be… Read more »

The Arsenal

People still dont understand why Bellerin lost his place.

Harryshambles

I’m at a loss as he’s not actually getting any game time at all currently, and Willian seems to live a charmed existence at his expense. There’s easing someone back, then there’s just not playing them at all. I feel we are in the latter category regrettably.

loose_cannon

Who? Forget it Jay, it’s Williantown.

SB Still

Arteta doesn’t seem to trust potential however promising- Martinelli, Saliba even ESR. Looks like they will have good (maybe even great) careers but not sure if it will be with us unfortunately.

He prefers experience- Willian, Luiz even Xhaka (in the sense there are no obvious young player to challenge).

A Different George

This is silly. He always plays Saka, maybe overplays him. Gabriel is a kid and clearly first choice. Smith Rowe plays when fit. None of us know what happened with Saliba. So, it’s really just Martinelli.

SB Still

Add another youngster Balogun.

With Arteta, not playing Laca that often either (Auba a yr older), wonder what plans he has for the challenge striker role next season.

Crash Fistfight

I think it’s less about age and more about playing style. He also prefers Willian to Pepe, because he’s more technically secure, but as a consequence less likely to make something happen.

He seems to be favouring a similarly-aged Odegaard over ESR as he’s more technical and “flair”, whilst ESR doesn’t do anything flashy, but moves the ball (and himself) quickly. Personally, I think Odegaard might be more talented, but ESR is more effective in that #10 role, but I don’t think that is Arteta’s MO.

jeff11

When will we ever learn . BUT V GOOD WIN

Adrian Drum

We should have statue for Elneny at Emirates asap. MO >>>> Messi. He is the best MF!!!

Harryshambles

Happy we won but Artetas insistence on certain tactics and players is a real worry. I really want him to succeed but these mistakes are not going away. Martinelli needs to play at least some minutes FFS! It’s beyond a joke now. Willian is standing in the way of both him and Pepe

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

More baffled that Pepe and Laca can’t get more game time even after they played good in previous match. No wonder they both can’t get consistensies when they get benched very often

Baichung Bhutia

I would have never imagined Elneny coming on, but somehow it worked. Also dont want Xhaka to start, but then you look at how Ceballos makes mistakes and Xhaka seems much better. Its difficult to judge Arteta until he has a decent team, hopefully after this summer.

Hank Scorpio

He’s got a better squad than a number of teams above us

Harryshambles

I get the squad arguement, but disagree as we could try to vary our play from the back and go long if a pass isn’t on. And it’s his choice to stick with Willian ahead of pretty much everyone else! I can’t help but think if there were fans in the stadiums the pressure would be building with the playing from the back issues and Willian situation

The Arsenal

Xhaxa is our best midfielder…..Thats the problem.

A Different George

I think the truth is that Xhaka had a very good game–a lot of Tienrey’s success in the first half was because of him. And after what happened today with Ceballos (by no means my favourite player), I am more willing to place the blame for the Burnley goal on Leno rather than Xhaka.

Twatsloch

Get in!

Antgoon

Annoying at times but the result is what matters.

Duno

Can’t wait for us to cut out these incessant howlers for good.

Harryshambles

18 years or so and counting

Swifty

Arsenal 1-3 Arsenal

Jean Ralphio

Great to get the win and from different goal scorers. Fantastic hit by Odegaard and El Neny.

Willian still feels useless and needs to be sold. Players are not in sync with Odegaard who doesnt pass quick at times. With ESR in that 10 position, there’s a bit more zip in the final third with his one touch play. Ceballos was poor yet again and he should have made that pass to Pepe who had half the pitch ahead of him in the 90th minute. For once, I want to destroy a team!

Kostas

I dont want to spoil the celebrations but our team is not going to win the Europa. This season will go as total waste of minutes of our young talents on behalf of old unsellable players and loanee’s.

Sorry for the negativity but I prefer saying it now rather after a bad result.

Just my opinion

afl

and you are completelly right! unpopular maybe, but very factual. one would be delusional to expect this team to win the EL with this defense and apart of that opening ten minutes we haven’t create anything from open play. Those 2 goals however beautifulthey were, they were also luck. and we’ve seen Artetas System making the same costly errors over and over again. That they are made by older or loan players is even more anoying. Our young players may habe learned something from it. There is absolutelly nothing to justify amount of game time Ceballos got and his output… Read more »

Timorous Me

One game at a time, my man. It’s a tournament format, so you never know. We won the FA Cup last year against the odds, after all. And honestly, I think this team is capable of beating anyone left in the Europa League. Some would be tough. But it’s all about how we play. Get rid of the egregious errors (seems like a lot to ask right now, but they are capable of it), get a couple guys like Partey firing again, and it could happen. I wouldn’t put money on it, but I’ll hold onto a little hope at… Read more »

Lanre

No they are not capable of beating anyone left. We were poor today. Our team play was shite, once again rescued by individual brilliance. Our luck’s gonna run out soon. I just hope by the time ot dawns on everyone Arteta isn’t the manager for Arsenal it’s not too late and we haven’t lost our promising youngsters.

askblogs

we literally just beat one of the teams ‘left’ 3-1, and it could have been more

Crash Fistfight

But beating ‘any’ of the teams means that we could beat all of the teams ‘left’, not just this terrible Olympiacos side.

It’s still possible, mind. You never know what will happen with the other teams still left in it.

Hank Scorpio

Agree to an extent. I’d happily be in this predicament with the youngsters getting plenty of game time. Instead the likes of Willian and Luizare stinking the place up

loose_cannon

“Surely not…OH YESSSSS!”

Also, Willian clearly isn’t the player we deserve. But is he the player we need right now?

Harryshambles

No

TeeCee

He is the player we need in exactly the same way as a Flymo is what you need if you wish to shave your balls.

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

I was thinking before elneny came in, Arteta seemed to be satisfied with a draw. Thankfully after that Gabriel and elneny scored their goals

Frog

Yes, i was furious at tah lack of ambition.. but what do i know haha 😂👌

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

Definitely not a masterstroke of a strategy from Arteta

Alex

This project is about to go bang

onenil

Arsenal 3 – Arsenal 1
For a while it looked like Arsenal might nick a draw after that goal by Ceballos and an excellent assist from Leno.

Please can we admit that while it worked for Man City (while Arteta was there learning his trade) Arsenal are not good enough to play out from the back on a regular basis. Almost all their chances came from us.

We could have lost this game. I am fucking relieved by the way we finished it. And credit to our players for that.

Flash

Impressive result but far from an impressive win in my opinion…

Dave

Pingerz

Fatgooner

A great night and a very good performance-but why do we insist on making it hard for ourselves?

Please please please ,Arteta, STOP THIS SHIT AT THE BACK! We are conceding stupid goals and are putting ourselves under pressure during games! We could have conceded 3 bad goals tonight instead of just one.

We will go through now but the next EL match could be lost if we don’t have a rethink about playing out from the back.

Now let’s beat Spuds

Vonnie

It’s Leno’s bad decision making, Mikel has made it clear we don’t have to play out every time. Leno is a decent shot stopper but he’s not good with his distribution, and he seems to unsettle the defence, he doesn’t command his area . I said at the time, and I still believe, we sold the wrong goalkeeper.

juicej

Fair point Leno’s decision making in the past two games has been regrettable but can we sing a different tune please. Emi was sold over 8 months ago can we get over it already, please. Fingers crossed lessons have been learnt and that nonsense stopped today.

Der32

I agree we sold the wrong goalkeeper. Leno is an excellent shot stopper, plays best with backs against the wall kind of defending. Martinez has proven now to be a classy goalkeeper that can distribute ball well, commands the penalty area, instills calm to the defense, and shotstopping ability that equals Leno. Having said this, Leno is still a great goalkeeper, and hopefully he can improve even further.

Twatsloch

Absolutely! Here’s to us smashing them on Sunday!

DPK

Only Arsenal can have a comfortable 3-1 away win in Europe and make it not feel like a comfortable 3-1 win
..

Mr. Gordon. Phillips

For God’s sake stop that stupid passing around at the back. Without that we are a good team but so many points lost and so many difficulties.

Ukesox

Passing out from the back is fine if you have a keeper that sees the right pass & is able to execute it.

Chippy Brady

Great win. If we could take the finger away from that self destruct button for a few games we could semi turn the season around. I hope Martinelli gets game time soon, we could have a genuine superstar on our hands if we don’t hamper his development

juicej

Aside from the usually gifts we keep giving away with senseless mistakes in the back, today we realized the importance of ESR, we struggled to move the ball quicker in the final third and with purpose ended up hoofing it into the box hoping Auba might get there and he didn’t get any of those crosses, he played slightly to the left leaving the central area unattended and Odegaard made no effort to get in there and be second striker, Saka also stayed wide. There was no movement at all until after the 80th min. Willian gave little to no… Read more »

SLC Gooner

There’s not really anything inherently wrong with playing out from the back. But it has a time and a place. Forcing it when you’re 1-0 up is not that time. And experienced players like Luiz and Leno need to know better. That one today was pretty much 95% on Leno. He should never have played that to Ceballos. Even assuming perfect control, he’s still got two markers right on him and is going have to pass it straight back to Leno, thus gaining nothing.
Credit to the team for the response once they settled, but we made that too hard.

UpNorth

Arsenal H vs Arsenal away 1-3. How on earth do we manage to do this play out from the back so shitty as we do?
Tactical stupid, careless and clumsy equals Arsenal. Bernd Leno is for all his other qualities a liability in our build up play.
He must be thoroughly coached before meeting the North London midgets on Sunday.

Sheldon

Should we start to get concerned about Partey’s fitness level? Alexis Sanchez seemed to never get injured, and once he finally did, he was never the same player again.

GoonerNJ

I will preface my comment by saying I was fully onboard with the sale of Emi. We needed to generate funds. His value was at an all time high. And he wanted to be somewhere where he was definitely the number 1. And we knew that there were suitors who wanted him. The sale made sense to me then and still does now given what we have been able to do in the transfer market since. Having said that, Leno should thank his lucky stars that Emi was sold. If we had a number 2 keeper in which we had… Read more »

Vonnie

That sale never made sense and we gave him away for a pittance. He was and is a better goalkeeper than Leno will ever be. The club made a huge mistake with that sale, Leno is flaky.

GoonerNJ

Under normal circumstances, I’d agree we should have gotten more. But this was a keeper who had a bit under a season of a full run as a number one and did a great job with it. And we’re trying to sell him at a time when teams are financially strapped due to the pandemic. Given all that, I think we did quite well.

And I think you’re being unfair to Leno. He’s had a rough go of it lately, but he had generally been one of our top performers since joining us.

DPK

Very unfair. A few dodgy moments lately but Leno has had an excellent season so far. So has Martinez to be fair for Villa, but a few bowlers from him as well let’s not forget

Man Manny

Journalist: Arteta, what do you think of Willian’s play tonight.
Arteta: He was phenomenal. He was the best player on the pitch. It takes a lot of experience to get the assist for the second goal, and that was the turning point in the game. He is in a very good moment.

Frog

Maybe not popular today, but i like the passing from the back (overall we gain much more i think than we lose) and having a keeper as good with his feet as Leno is a real asset. But he should improve his judgment a bit, no need to play in the most risky situations.
Whack it long now and then if needed and we will be fine

Biggles

Olympiacos weren’t quite the threat they might have been and we certainly showed determination getting two goals later on. Clearly though we haven’t lost the potential to make defensive errors which may have cost us more dearly in other circumstances. That said, it’s the result that counts and we appear to be nicely set up for the return leg and, hopefully, we’ll be able to concentrate more fully on the Spurs game as a result.

Paul Roberts

Gifted them a goal but overall we were good. It was ages until our first misplaced pass and that was a Leno poor through out. I see lots of improvements and Willian was good tonight so I will shut up about him for a bit…:-)

A Different George

Some really good things today: Bellerin looked good enough so even the people who hate him blindly will have to shut up. (He said optimistically.) We didn’t rely on Saka to save us. Odegaard, in stretches, looked really dominant, and seemed to cover as much ground as Ngolo Kante (okay, maybe not). Willian was not as good as recently but nowhere near as bad as before that (I still would like to see Pepe more often).

AusDrexler

I can see why Leno does the pass. It draws 2 defenders straight at Ceballos. If Ceballos plays it straight back one touch, Leno then has ample time and space to move the ball wide. Its a tactic we use in Field Hockey a lot trying to play out from the back. It only works though if its one touch stuff. If the midfielder has to take a 2nd touch, it can be dangerous.

DBMØ10

We’re truly the best team in the world, consistently performing against 2 teams in the same match is no small feat.
We have to first, beat Arsenal and then the opposition.

Santori

Win is a win but we made heavy going of it. Still plenty of ills not resolved and continue to be perpetuated. Particularly playing around the risky end of the field just around our goal mouth. 1) Luiz got away with it (just) with yet another suicide pass across the 6 yard box. 2) Ceballos I mentioned many times we need to pay higher in ESR or Odegaard role. This is the second time now he has been careless costing us a goal but why are we again taking inordinate risk in the central area just ahead of our goal?… Read more »

Thierrys_Tears

I see it was a solid second half. I didn’t know, as I threw a shoe through the TV when Ceballos cocked it up.

rincewind

But why did Xhaka pass that ball backwards when he could have been more positive and pushed it up and forward? it almost looked like we were racing with them towards our own goal to score Keystone Cops style.

FREDDO

I suspect that Matt Ryan will be between the sticks fairly soon. He has wonderful feet and is genuinely two-footed. That is surely why Arteta went after him (and why he was interested in coming to a technical side like Arsenal).

g kolis

i think is time to change the pattern of playing the team needs tactical formation not just making risky passes