Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gunners Edge Greeks, Arsenal 2-1

The Professor was in the stands for the second time this campaign.  Coming off the draw in Dortmund, Arsenal needed a strong performance at home to solidify their position in the group.  The "Ox" got the nod, and the stage was set for an important battle.

Plenty of Greek Londoners were in attendance and soon made their presence known.  The game begin quickly and as many were still finding their seats, in the 8th minute Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain had already found the net!  The Ox became the youngest Arsenal Englishman to score in the competition!  He seemed to surprise himself with the effort and no doubt delighted the sellout crowd.  Arsenal were looking dangerous, controlling the game with Mikel Arteta to thank for it.  With twenty minutes gone, Santos was released from the back and went ripping down the left flank.  In moments, the Brazilian had slipped a ball in from a very difficult angle to score his first goal in red and white.  The visitors had conceded but not capitulated.  Seven minutes later, the visitors had halved the deficit and were intent on overtaking it.  Scoring from a corner, the Greek champions displayed tenacity as they battled for the upset.  At the break, Arsenal had the lead but were not controlling the game.  Olypiacos had left the pitch as the more dominant side.  
'The Ox' leads the charge
The second half was more nervy than the first and the Greek champions nearly leveled at the restart.  Arsenal defended their slender lead but the play soon became end to end football, a little too reminiscent of the Dortmund game...The Gunners backline looked as comfortable on the field as Arsene Wenger did in the stands.  After an alarming close-call that left the crossbar trembling, Wenger's stand in, Pat Rice knew it was time to make changes.  Robin Van Persie replaced Chamak who had played an impressive game up front.  Aaron Ramsey came in for a tired Oxlaide-Chamberlain.  Finally Gibbs relieved Arshavin, joining Song who was filling in on defense.  It was a tense game to be sure, but the Gunners withstood the pressure and won the match.  

Santos' first goal for Arsenal!
Although we got the right result, it was a little disappointing to see the Gunners on the back foot against what should have been our easiest competition in the group.  Also, our next two Champs League games are against Marseille who trounced Dortmund 3-0 in matchday two.  The outcome of those two fixtures will have a tremendous effect on result of Group F.  Arsenal may not have played with full conviction today but we still hold second place with four points against Marseille's six.  However, the margin for error is becoming smaller and smaller as the tournement progresses.

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