Arsenal moved to the top of its Champions League group with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Greek champs Olympiacos, but will be weary after a turgid first-half performance.
Goals from Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and substitute Aaron Ramsey ultimately cancelled out Kostas Mitroglu’s headed equaliser but only after a stern talking to by stand-in manager Steve Bould at half-time.
Arsenal were pretty ordinary in the opening exchanges, still a bit bruised from their home loss against Chelsea last weekend. That match saw Laurent Koscielny receive a bit of a tanning in a disorganised back line, but Per Mertesacker fell ill in the lead-up to the game, meaning the Frenchman kept his place.
Santi Cazorla had a chance from a free kick, out wide on the left with players waiting, but decided to go for it himself from the tight angle, forcing the Olympiacos keeper into a sharp save.
But the rest of the half was almost uneventful, until the last 10 minutes. Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen both got their zones mixed up and missed headers from a right wing cross, which fell to Machado, only for the midfielder to scoop it over the bar from six yards out.
Moments later, Arsenal were ahead. Podolski scuttled won the left flank before sliding a pass across the edge of the box towards Gervinho, who let it bobble on to Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard stopped the ball into Gervinho’s path, who evaded three defenders to make space and fire home from outside the area.
It was a good finish from the once-upon-a-time shot-shy forward, and showed our pre-season promise to shoot a bit more from outside the box. Continue reading