Gervinho’s form ensures picking contract rebel Theo Walcott as a striker isn’t going to happen soon.
The Ivorian scored a great goal on 42 minutes; collecting a loose ball offered up by the tenacity of Mikel Arteta charging forward to the box and hitting an eighteen yard snap-shot which evaded the Olympiakos goalie. That is now five goals for this season and he looks well on his way to getting double figures. Walcott must be slightly concerned that any trial he may have at centre-forward could well be consigned to Capital One Cup games or ‘dead-rubber matches’ in the Champions League. Gervinho’s electric run down the right wing early in the second half set up Lukas Podolski for his fourth goal in an impressive start to his Arsenal career (his performance against Chelsea his one negative mark thus far).
Arsenal are still far too casual after taking the lead.
Arsenal’s recently exposed soft centre conceded their first non-set piece goal of the season. Francis Coquelin and Carl Jenkinson did not challenge for the ball on the left and a beautifully whipped in cross from Italian wing-back Leandro Greco found the head of burly Greek hit man Konstantinios Mitroglou, and with Thomas Vermaelen ‘offering’ a nothing challenge, Mitroglou used the sheer power of the crossed ball to re-direct it into the far corner. Olympiakos are notoriously poor travellers in the UEFA Champions League and will have been amazed how easily that goal came for them. Would Per Mertesacker, Arsenal fan’s beloved ‘BFG’ defender, dropped in the last two games (or is he being rested?), have allowed that header to have gone unchallenged?
Koscielny's shaky displays so far this season have left his many fans concerned about just how badly his form has deteriorated
Laurent Koscielny looks a shadow of his former self
Koscielny could easily have been sent off for a hapless, reckless and dangerous challenge on the halfway line, which crunched Paulo Machado into a heap midway through the first half. My initial thought was ‘he’s going to be sent off here’ and he should count himself very fortunate that only a yellow was shown. His annual own goal has already been scored this season (it was his defensive mistake against Birmingham City that cost Arsenal the chance of a penalty shootout in the Carling Cup final in 2011), and with the exception of a priceless equaliser at The Etihad Stadium, his shaky displays so far this season have left his many fans concerned about just how badly his form has deteriorated.
Kieran Gibbs is the best thing to come out of Wimbledon since The Wombles.
Gibbs tore up and down the left flank all game, showing speed, enterprise and heaps of effort. He is surely England’s left-back for the next two World Cups if he can keep himself fit and his future as a potential Arsenal great is starting to take shape. He is a very exciting player and his defensive game is improving. Gibbs has started this season in a fashion that could easily see him being nominated for, and winning, awards come next May. Likewise, on the opposite flank, Carl Jenkinson has emerged as a defender who should be giving Glen Johnson some very sleepless nights as a realistic challenger to be England’s next first-choice right-back, should he be prised away from Finland’s grasp...
We can start planning for the knockout stages
Regardless of how well Arsenal have played against the French and Greek champions, they have six precious points and two lots of the prize money each will have generated. With Jack Wilshere’s return imminent, Bacary Sagna’s push to challenge Jenkinson’s strong claim for the starting right-back spot - as he comes back from a broken leg - and Tomas Rosicky now getting ready for some game time at last, Arsenal’s first team squad looks to be getting some strength in depth for the first time in recent seasons. These two victories in this season’s competition should set The Gunners up nicely for qualification into the knock-out stages; unless Schalke 04 shock Arsenal in the forthcoming double-headers against the Westphalians and they capitulate in the return games against Montpellier and Olympiacos. Schalke’s 2-2 draw against Montpellier is a delightful bonus for Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey’s late third should also give the Welsh Dragon some much needed confidence.
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