Welcome to Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture, our MatchDay Show guest and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.
Arsenal took on Olympiacos in the Champions League on Tuesday and our Talking Heads for this game were former Gunner Adrian Clarke and Lee from LadyArse.
ADRIAN CLARKE, CO-COMMENTATOR
Until the hour mark I thought Arsenal’s revamped line-up produced a relatively controlled performance, but the side undoubtedly ran out of steam in the final 30 minutes and that’s when Olympiakos overran the Gunners. It’s never easy coming into a match of this magnitude without recent first-team action and full match fitness, so this was to be expected I guess.
I enjoyed seeing glimpses of the finesse Tomas Rosicky is capable of on his return, and he took his goal beautifully too. Francis Coquelin also impressed me with his first-half display. As the game wore on the Greeks got stronger, while Arsenal’s threat faded, so on reflection 2-1 is probably a fair result. Let’s hope we get lucky with the draw!
There’s a strange feeling around this match because the result won’t greatly affect either side. Olympiacos have nothing but pride to play for, which could lower their intensity a little, while Arsenal aren’t sure if finishing as group winners or runners up will assist their prospects of progressing in the knockout stages.
With a lot of fresh faces in the starting XI, I expect to see players trying to impress the manager, and I hope that helps to produce a committed performance. On the flip side, with so many changes it can often be hard to find a rhythm. The Gunners are in need of a morale-boosting victory, and they’re more than capable of producing it, but this won’t be easy at all, no match in Greece ever is.
As long as the players give their all and work their socks off for the travelling fans, I don’t think Arsène Wenger will be too worried about the result.
Although losing is never something to be proud of, playing Olympiakos without the majority of our first team was always going to make this an uphill struggle and with Schalke only managing to get a draw against Montpellier the group was there for Arsenal to win. That said, the quality of teams finishing in second place in the Champions League this season means that the benefit of finishing in first place was somewhat diminished.
Arsenal put in a spirited display and positives can be taken from an impressive performance at left back from Jernade Meade, in whom Arsenal seem to have found yet another talented and pacy full back. There was also a great 45 minutes from Tomas Rosicky to savour as he continues his return from his long injury lay-off. Added to that, the majority of the senior team will be well rested as Arsenal now go on to face West Brom in the Premier League. The decision to play a much weakened team still seems like a good one in the morning light - despite the result.
With qualification to the knockout phase already assured and top spot not necessarily guaranteeing an easy draw this year in the Champions League, Arsenal are heading into their final group game with a mixture of youth and fringe players which not only allows the senior players a much-needed rest but also eases the expectations of fans as well.
Olympiakos is always a tough place to go and Arsenal have struggled there on recent trips usually due to similar circumstances as those we face tonight - qualification secured and players being protected from fatigue. While a win would do much to lift the morale of the fans, many are approaching this game aware that the main test for Arsenal will come at the weekend in the Premier League. As a result they are treating it more like a League Cup tie and a great chance to watch some exciting young players.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd
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