Olympiacos 1-3 Arsenal: 3 things learned as Gunners get revenge

Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images) /
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Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Arsenal soared to a 3-1 victory over Pedro Martins’ Olympiacos in what was revenge for being knocked out by his team in the Europa League last season. It certainly wasn’t a perfect performance from the Gunners but the persistence, drive and organisation of Mikel Arteta’s side proved victorious.

Arsenal comfortably controlled the game and in the first half, two very early chances came for the visiting side. A cross from Kieran Tierney saw Martin Odegaard get the wrong connection on the ball and kick it wide, while a Hector Bellerin cross forced Jose Sa to force Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close-range header onto the post.

Arsenal’s recent troubles came back to haunt them when Odegaard gave the ball away in a dangerous area, but Bernd Leno was able to safely get his hands on Bruma’s attempt on target.

Odegaard was able to make it up to the team towards the end of the second half, scoring a brace from the outside of the box. The opportunity came when Bellerin put pressure on Olympiacos’ backline and they crumbled which allowed Odegaard to take his chance, making it the Norweigan’s first Arsenal goal and the first goal for Arsenal scored by a Norwegian.

Arsenal did get punished for their mistakes early on in the second half when Youssef El-Arabi capitalised on a Dani Ceballos mistake. The Spaniard could not control the short ball from Leno which allowed Olympiacos’ top goalscorer to punish the Gunners and score the equaliser.

From then on, Arsenal allowed Olympiacos to have the ball slightly more and another mistake from David Luiz almost cost the visitors to concede again, but two more goals were up Arsenal’s sleeves.

Willian whipped in a beautiful ball from a short corner for Gabriel to put the ball into the back of the net with a powerful header. A brilliant combination from the two Brazillian’s gave the Gunners the advantage with 10 minutes to go.

Arsenal’s third goal of the night came from Mohammed Elneny who Arteta had subbed on only minutes before he scored. The Egyptian, who all of his Arsenal goals have come in cup competitions, shot from outside the box in the 85th minute, to which Sa could not stop and the game ended 3-1 to Arsenal.

Plenty of talking points as per usual and some recurring aspects of the game too, here are my three talking points…

1. Odegaard: mistake to hero

Odegaard certainly stood out for both the right and wrong reasons at the Karaiskaki stadium but ended being one of the stand-out players at the end of the 90 minutes. He started the game with a few misjudged passes and obviously the mistake in the defensive third that almost cost hide to go 1-0 down.

Many Arsenal fans questioned why Arteta started Odegaard over Emile Smith-Rowe who has just returned to full fitness following an injury and was placed on the bench but having only taken part in one full training session, Arteta did the right thing in resting the youngster ahead of the North London Derby on Sunday.

After his mistake, the Norwegian really picked up and capitalised on Olympiacos’ weakness in pressuring their defence, resulting in the 22-year old scoring a powerful long-range shot and giving the Gunner’s their first goal of the night.

In the second half, Odegaard looked a lot more comfortable in controlling the midfield and really drive through the midfield with close control of the ball.

The attacking midfielder created four chances and had a pass success rate of 90%, which shows how crucial he was in the game and in Arsenal securing a very important victory. He also won six out of his seven duels and completed two successful dribbles.

The Real Madrid Loanne really grew into the game and Arsenal fans can certainly get excited to see more of him as the season continues. If he plays like he did in this Europa League tie for the rest of the season, Arsenal will be disappointed if they don’t manage to sign him permanently and will need to look at another player like him to sign in the transfer window.