Olympiacos 1-3 Arsenal – Déjà vu scares but Arsenal get convincing 1st leg advantage

Arsenal meet Olympiacos in Greece for the 2nd time in consecutive years.

That nightmare finish at the Emirates where Arsenal got knocked out late on won’t want to be remembered.

Arsenal will look to turn things right and get their ‘own back’ on the Greek giants.

Olympiacos are without their best defender, Semedo. Sokratis who was signed from the Gunners will more than likely play.

Olympiacos will seek to sit in a deep block and thrive off set pieces/ countering actions, with star man El Arabi on 20 goals this season – the main threat.

It is imperative Arsenal get a good few away goals and a big lead to set them perfectly to ideally rest players for the home leg.

Team News:

Willian keeps his place in the XI over Pepe, Smith Rowe isn’t quite fit enough to start which means Øddgaard plays again.

Bellerin & Gabriel come in for Cedric, Mari for squad rotation. Xhaka & Partey start again in a strong team.

Olympiacos have Ba partnering Sokratis, new signing Lala starting with veteran Valbuena on the wing.

El Arabi will be the main danger man, after his form as of recent and the danger he is.

The game will be an interesting one where you expect Arsenal to show their class.

Score prediction: 1-3 Arsenal.

2 minutes in, a great cross from Tierney is played into Ødegaard who missed the target.

Great chance.

A few minutes later Bellerin gets down the right-hand side, plays a great ball in for Aubameyang who’s header is deflected and saved brilliantly onto the bar by Sa.

Great start, where it’s important we make the most of these opportunities as we do often don’t.

Arsenal continued to be dominant, as Bellerin & Tierney were particularly effective getting in behind but no goal yet.

Keeping the ball was no issue, as Arsenal pressed brilliantly, very compact out of possession.

Self-inflicted damage as always however as Arsenal lost the ball in troublesome areas a few times, but thankfully mounted to nothing.

Just after the half hour mark, Ødegaard takes it into his own hands and slams it from range, high into the net.

A powerful strike where the keeper should do better, but a well-deserved lead and a debut goal, nonetheless. Great time to get it!

5 minutes before the break, Luiz gives the ball away in his own box but Olympiacos can’t capitalise. So sloppy once again and so fortunate.

Nearly self-destruct from the Gunners.

Another dominant half from the gunners, who should be 2 or 3 up. Arsenal really ought to put this tie away second half.

Deja vu as a stupid pass from Leno has Ceballos turns into danger, El Arabi receives the ball and puts it in the corner of the net brilliantly.

Absolute shambles from Leno & Ceballos.

Arsenal didn’t start the 2nd half very well and that continued. After taking off Partey, Arsenal had lost control.

El Arabi had a great chance for a brace but a great block from Bellerin prevented that.

That equaliser has enabled the Greek side to sit very much in a deep block. So hard to bypass for any side.

After looking far from convincing, Willian delivers a cross, which Gabriel meets emphatically!

A truly sublime header, which is absolutely warranted despite the appeals of M’villa.

A minute later, Pepe is involved instantly. Bellerin who’s been brilliant puts it right across the face of goal, but no one can turn it home.

The so called ‘Europa League Pirlo’ Elneny takes a few touches before slamming in off the post from range.

A sensational goal which is so important with the complexion of the tie.

3-1 it ends, a comprehensive result which could’ve ended badly after the poor mistakes.

Gabriel’s header was crucial – and dug us out after a sloppy 2nd half showing.

A sense of control was lost after Partey came off and Ceballos nearly cost us again.

Arteta’s in game changes were slow and problematic, but thankfully it wasn’t costly.

A good lead with many away goals which sets Arsenal up perfectly for the return tie.

Man of the match:

The 2 main contenders for me must be Gabriel & Bellerin.

Bellerin has come off a lot of stick, but overlapped brilliantly and put in some really dangerous balls in.

His positioning was good, he got in behind a lot and was a huge attacking threat who was very effective.

His block to stop El Arabi was crucial as well, to keep the game in the balance.

Gabriel was great as well. Very confident and defended very well, not allowing Olympiacos any clear-cut open chances for the most part, which isn’t self-inflicted.

The Brazilians header was top class, Ramos esc towering above the defender superbly.

His header was incredibly clutch and changed the whole complexion of the game.

For me Bellerin gets the edge. He was very influential in attacking phases and was unlucky to not get an assist. Either deserve it however – they were both superb.

Hopefully he can kick on with some really tough fixtures coming up.

Player Ratings:

Leno – 5

Bellerin – 8 (MOTM)

Gabriel – 8

Luiz – 6.5

Tierney – 7

Xhaka – 7

Partey – 6.5

Willian – 7

Ødegaard – 7

Saka – 6.5

Aubameyang – 7

Subs:

Elneny – 10

Ceballos – 5

Smith Rowe – N/A

Pepe – N/A

Lacazette – N/A

What next for Arsenal?

Arsenal face fierce North London rivals Spurs.

With Bale, Kane hitting peak form before facing the Gunners it’s bound to be a very tough game.

You can find more on this game in my previous article, but it’s too big a game not to mention again.

With the mistakes Arsenal make so often, it’s worrying – as mistakes won’t go unpunished against some of the best attackers around.

A huge game on Sunday, where there’s so much at stake for both sides as they attempt to get into the European spots.

A 2-1 win for the Gunners or a draw would be my guess, as I can’t see Spurs doing the double over us but am unsure if we can get the 3 points.

Thanks for reading as always, hopefully you enjoy my articles and any feedback is always appreciated.