What a win! Going into the game fans were understandably very nervous considering our injury problems, but the players delivered with one of the most efficient displays so far this season. They did not let the pressure of needing two goals get to them, and that patience finally paid off as we exploited the gaps left in the Olympiacos defence to our benefit. A 3 goal result in a tricky away game is always massive, and considering the scenario ahead of the game, this could be a major rallying point for the club.
First off, massive credit goes to Olivier Giroud. The French striker was superb on the night, netting his first ever hat-trick for the Gunners when we needed it the most. Giroud’s main flaw is his inconsistency; the striker misses far too often from good positions, and that is what keeps him from truly becoming a world-class player. But none of that was evident against the Greeks, as he showed off some clinical finishing to send us through to the group stages.
Praise must also be given to Joel Campbell as well. Most people had written him off as someone destined to leave the club in January, but the Costa Rican has been tenacious in the extreme. He put it a strong showing yesterday, particularly in the second half, and seems to be growing into the role as he gets more playing time. I am glad to say that I was wrong about Campbell’s potential – maybe we don’t need a backup for Sanchez quite so urgently after all.
The entire team showed up when required, and while this game was not quite on the level of say the Bayern game or the one against United, it certainly was a demonstration of what Arsenal can do on their day. We have sent out a strong message and I’m sure that none of the big teams would want to be drawn against us in the Round of 16 at the moment. Now the challenge is to maintain this form going forward, as we have several big Premier League games coming up and a massive opportunity to climb to the top of the League table by Christmas.
Here are our ratings for yesterday’s game:
Petr Cech – 7.5
Was solid in goal and made a couple of good saves from the Olympiacos forwards at a time when a single goal could have changed the balance of the game. It is amazing to have such a quality player in the side and the difference he has made for us this season is clear to see.
Hector Bellerin – 6.5
The Spaniard does not seem to be fully recovered from his injury yet. He struggled a bit early on, but was able to grow into the game later.
Per Mertesacker – 7.0
Had a couple of scares early on, and was targeted by the Olympiacos attack. Managed to hold on, and improved throughout the game.
Laurent Koscielny – 8.0
The Boss delivered a stunning performance yesterday, breaking down attack after attack. His vision ensured that Olympiacos struggled to really test Cech for large portions of the game. Unquestionably one of the best defenders in the Premier League right now.
Nacho Monreal – 8.0
Monreal is churning out top quality performances every single week. The Spaniard is easily one of the most reliable players in the side, and is working an attacking element into his game that will make him even more dangerous.
Mathieu Flamini – 6.5
Had a good game, and was unlucky to see an effort bounce off the bar. However, I still feel that Flamini is way too attack minded for his position. He lacks the pace to recover quickly if the opposition counterattack, yet he spends a lot of his time in their penalty area. It’s fine if we dominate the game, but we are left very vulnerable otherwise.
Aaron Ramsey – 7.5
The Welshman is really enjoying his time in central midfield. He was all over the pitch yesterday, contributing wherever required and generally being a big threat to Olympiacos. Picked up a needless yellow card but apart from that was a lively presence on the field.
Mesut Ozil – 8.5
The German is in sublime form at the moment, and his passing is a treat to watch. He was heavily involved throughout the game and provided the key pass in the build up to all of our goals. Didn’t actually get an assist, but everyone can agree that he was the true driving force of the team.
Joel Campbell – 8.0
Solid, hard-working display from Campbell yesterday. He is proving his doubters wrong in the best way possible, and his assist for Giroud’s second goal was very, very good.
Theo Walcott – 6.5
Not the best of games for Walcott, but he managed to get 90 minutes under his belt after coming back from injury, which is good news.
Olivier Giroud – 9.0
MotM. The Frenchman had a sensational game as he netted his first ever hat-trick for the Gunners. Each of his goals was extremely well taken and the variety in them was also a good sign. Giroud seems to be becoming much more consistent and reliable this season, which has always been the biggest complaint levelled against him. Hopefully, he continues in the vein of form for as long as possible.