May 10, 2021

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Arsenal 0-1 Olympiacos: We lost, but we passed …


Match reportPlayers’ ratingsBy the numbersVideo

As a starting point for today’s blog, I think it’s important to lay down some facts:

  • Arsenal qualified to the European League quarter-finals.
  • Sp * rs is not.
  • We played badly but still had more than enough chances to win comfortably.
  • Sp * rs lost by his coach team in prison.
  • We’re through.
  • They are not and Jose Mourinho is “more than sad”.

From there, we can understand all of this. From our perspective, I thought it was interesting that Mikel Arteta’s comments after the match focused on our decision-making with the ball, rather than the opportunities we lost. I have a tricky feeling that he was especially thinking about the moment Danny Ceballos wanted so many touches when we had a great opportunity to cause them problems, and instead we lost possession.

From there, Olympiacos moved forward quickly, our defense was not great and Al Arabi scored his traditional goal against us, deviating from Gabriel’s hip. It was just minutes after the start of the second half, and this was his concern, as the coach immediately pushed back his countryman and Mohamed Elnni to place Thomas Party and Martin Odegaard. I don’t think you can classify losing the ball at this high of the court as the same kind of mistake he did against Benfica, for example, but there is a kind of Midas backlash that happens with Ceballos where he gets involved in a lot of things that turns into poo.

To be fair with him, he got our best chance in the first half, as Pierre Emeric founded Aubameyang to see the goal he had dreamed of before the match. The ball got stuck under his feet a little but it was still a bad mistake by the captain. It came just a minute or two after Bernd Leno was rescued from the Arab after a long kick from their keeper had been completely undone – something that shouldn’t happen so easily – the house could really have hammered an important nail in Greece. Side coffin.

There was a performance improvement when Odegaard and Barty played, and the Norwegian player in particular was impressive, even if he, too, was guilty of another chance rejected later in the half. However, there is a big difference between him and Ceballos in this role. He moves a lot faster, his feet are light and airy like a fluffy sponge and not sticky toffee pudding and the more I see it, the more I want to be a part of this team’s future on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, Barty didn’t have the same effect, and I think he was also guilty of making some bad decisions about the ball that didn’t give us the kind of momentum we wanted after falling behind. Despite this, and despite our poor gameplay in general, we could have scored a full hat (depending on the hat size). The most threatening moment for Pepe was a shot from inside the box but unfortunately Emil Smith Roe fired it and veered off.

Aubameyang made another weak effort, cutting his left foot short after he was sent clean by good work by Xhaka and then Odegaard. The captain was then dismissed with an awesome save when substitute Gabriel Martinelli roasted Sokratis like an old marshmallow, and the running attempt from Aubameyang was really good …. Feel the heft of the weekend and missed the derby? Only he can answer that, and while I think the positive thing is that he was around for those opportunities in the first place, this is the second time in the past few weeks that shooting shoes have abandoned him completely, so maybe there’s cause for concern. Hope he’s out on West Ham on Sunday.

It was nice to see Martinelli though, his drive and energy contagious, and in a short while he was touching. He took that opportunity you mentioned, and his live turn on got him to make mistakes and knock Ousseynou Ba off somewhat cruelly. Please don’t think that means I felt sorry for him though, I didn’t, I’m just glad someone else was on the receiving end of the questionable red.

In the end, we might have deserved to lose one goal because of the chances we had lost and the extent of our play at times, but not more than that. We never felt like we were clinging to our fingertips or anything else, and round the legs, we were rewarded for our performance in Athens, with three goals away from home proved enough for us to qualify for the draw later today.

After that, Mikel Arteta said:

We were not stable on the ball. We put in a lot of easy balls and had transition moments. It’s impossible when you give the ball away that you have any structure and discipline in your shape. It is true that we have missed many opportunities. We missed one chance, I think with the long ball from the goalkeeper in the first half. We created enough chances to win the game but we weren’t even close to the level we should be.

correction. Set it up for Sunday, and then we have time over Interlull to set the record straight.

Meanwhile, in Zagreb, with a 2-0 lead from the first leg, the Sp * rs conceded, then conceded again, went into extra time, scored again, and knocked out. If you can track the most important features of BT Sport, I highly recommend it. From the impressive hat-trick by Mislav Ursic to the brilliant goalkeeper from Dominik Livakovic; From the thorny look on Mourinho’s face on the sidelines, to the apparent pain in Jermaine Jenas’s voice in the joint commentary; From former Arsenal player Robbie Burton on the bench in Zagreb to Harry Kane, who missed a great opportunity near the end; It’s all there to light up your morning.

I mean, we weren’t great last night, and we’re able to do some pretty silly things, but no matter how hard we try, we can’t beat the soccer equivalent of Keystone Cops crossed over with the Three Stooges with someone going down. Face in the failed army video. Amazing stuff.

It was impossible not to talk about that in the brand new Arsecast that was recorded last night after our game, so you can get some of that in your ears, along with all of the Arsenal discussions as well. All the links you need to listen / subscribe are below. We’ll have the Europa League charting things on Arseblog News later, and previewing the West Ham podcast on Patreon later this afternoon.

For now, take it easy and remember to laugh – this is good for you.