Another good start to a Thursday with the glow of a memorable victory last night warming my cockles (?).
For twenty minutes the home side made a battle of it and stuck to their pre-game promise to try and take the contest to us. They created a couple of half chances during the period but failed to hit the target or test Cech. With no top, top striker they were not equipped last night to hurt. How very different from the Bavarians.
Commendable performance from Mr Rizzoli who faced down the intimidating atmosphere from the first whistle, as well as spotting a bit of work in the finest traditions of Greek theatre from Fortounis. If ever a yellow card was justly deserved for diving that was it. It set a good marker down for what the official would, and would not, tolerate. The possible high point of Olympiakos assault was the yellow picked up by Aaron which set off the jitters with more than 70 minutes to go at that stage. I was tense, I admit.
By the 20th minute we began go roll forward, retain possession, pick out accurate passes. The Flamster rattled the bar, defying his legion of critics who curse him crossing the half way line. Then Mesut got out his protractors and set square, railed the ball through to the Welshman, on to Olivier’s sharp head and the group was burst wide open. I see a lot of criticism of the keeper Roberto in the media this morning and that Giroud’s effort was a poor header to let in ? Looked all right to me.
And another goal in or around the 29th minute ! Have you see how many goals we score recently at or around that stage of the football match ? There is some physical/psychological dynamic at work there – it will take wiser minds than I to discern it.
We negotiated the deadly 10 minute pre half time period when we have a weekly wobble with no ill effects. We roared out in the second half, and by 49 minutes, with lovely work from Campbell the contest was tilted in our direction, the Olympiakos boat on the point of capsize. Just one smart save required from Cech around the hour mark and that was about that. After the somewhat harsh penalty award the home side played out the tie, as deflated as the crowd. An evening that started with such promise for them turned to ashes. They kept their discipline though to the final whistle and will be a tricky opponent for any English/Spanish/German club in the Thursday night Cup.
No Man of the Match last night, super team performance, from the back to the front. Professional, efficient and with flashes of excellence and art. As Olivier picked up his first hat-trick, the first of many in an Arsenal shirt I am sure, he earns the opening picture today.
Finally a little excerpt for your delectation that I picked up and retained from the mainstream media on Tuesday;
Asked this week for their predictions concerning the final round of CL group games the football experts of the responded thus;
Times writers predict which English sides will be knocked out this week.
Oliver Kay One. Arsenal.
Matt Hughes One. Arsenal.
Matt Dickinson One. Arsenal.
James Ducker Two. Arsenal and Manchester United.
Rory Smith One. Arsenal.
Tony Cascarino Two. Arsenal and Manchester United
Don’t give up the day job lads.
Enjoy your Thursday.