Arsenal secured top spot in Champions League group B tonight after a unconvincing win against Greek champions, Olympiakos. Despite the 3-1 scoreline, Arsenal did not look at their best against the Greek side but they still have six points to show from the opening two games.
In their opening games of the Champions League, Arsenal secured three points with a win away at Montpellier, whilst Olympiakos lost their first game at home to Schalke.
Steve Bould was once again on the touchline by himself as Arsene Wenger served his second touchline ban.
The first half was a very cagey affair with no real team managing to create chances or keep hold of the ball. The first real chance actually fell to the away side, but a long-range shot was comfortably saved by Vito Mannone. Just past the half hour mark, Ricardo Paulo Machado, missed a massive chance for the away side. A lovely low ball from the winger found the midfield man un-marked five yards out from goal, but he saw his effort fly miles over the bar. A huge let-off for the poor looking Arsenal, but ten minutes later, they punished the Greek side for their poor finishing.
Five minutes before half-time a loose ball came to Gervinho who was just outside the box, he managed to turn past one defender and fire a shot into the bottom corner to beat the Olympiakos goalkeeper. This was Gervinho’s fifth goal of the season and his second in the Champions League.
The goal was soon cancelled out as the away side equalised right on the stroke of half time after Kostas Mitroglou’s header looped over Vito Mannone and found the back of the net. The sides went in level at half-time, with Olympiakos looking a lot happier with the scoreline, despite missing numerous chances.
Ten minutes after the second half, Arsenal restored their lead when Gervinho picked out Podolski who turned and drilled a left footed shot in between the legs of the goalkeeper. The 2-1 scoreline mirrored the result against Montpellier with both Gervinho and Podolski finding the net for Arsenal.
The rest of the second half created not many chances and the game was finally finished when substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud linked up and the Welshman delightfully chipped the ball over the keeper to secure all three points for the Gunners.
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen:
“The second half was better than the first. In the first half we were sloppy and we lost a lot of balls. It was not great really. [Assistant manager] Steve Bould was not angry, he said what was wrong and he said that we needed to be more cautious with the ball and not to lose it. Gervinho is scoring a lot of goals at the moment, he looks quick, and it is good to see. The most important thing is to win your home games in the Champions League, we have won one away from home too so we hope that we can continue to pick up points.”
Arsenal coach Steve Bould:
“It was tough – they made it really tough for us and defended really well. We hit it off not bad, but then looked nervous. The result from the weekend drained us a little, we lost a little bit of confidence, but overall it is a fantastic result.
“We have a look and try to correct [some things]. Overall they did not have a lot of chances but they played well. They’re a good side, technically sound and made it hard for us. We watched tapes and knew they had good technique.
“The other game [in the group] was a draw but it’s early days, we’ve still got an awful lot of work to do.”
Another mediocre Champions League performance by Arsenal will be forgotten because of the two victories away at the French champions and at home to the Greek champions. The two wins see Arsenal top their group after Schalke and Montpellier drew 2-2 in Germany.
Alex William Batt