by Darren Walsh
Quite a choice for TV viewers following English teams tonight; a team trying to take top spot in the group or another trying to reach the Europa League. Though I think the top two are set in all the groups tonight, so we can’t expect too much drama from anywhere. I imagine it will be like this quite a lot if we end up with 64 teams in the competition.
On the plus side, matches without the pressure to win often end up being goal filled, so we might have a 3-3 thriller on our hands tonight.
For all their Premier League problems, things haven’t been that bad for Arsenal in the Champion’s League. They’re officially through to the knock out stages, and have a chance of finishing top of the group.
Of course finishing top might not be a good thing when teams like Real Madrid are second in their own group for example. The line-up that Arsene Wenger has picked suggests he doesn’t think it’s that important either.
Big dissection of Arsenal’s problems to start with on ITV; general opinion seems to be that there’s no one to educate the young players about the club. To illustrate the point, we see the team from when they last won a trophy in 2005 and there’s no one left, while Man Utd and Chelsea have quite a few from seven years ago. Wait a minute, Paulo Ferreira is still at Chelsea?
Speaking of 2005, Man Utd old boy Roy Carroll is in nets for the Greek side. How do I remember when he played for Utd? Trust me, if you’re a Spurs fan YOU KNOW he was the goalkeeper for them in 2005.
While that purple Arsenal kit could look ok, the red lettering on the back completely destroys it.
Clive Tyldesley muses on whether many of these Arsenal reserves who are playing will move in January. Not unless there’s some mugs out there willing to pay them 50,000 a week they won’t.
Miskick by Aaron Ramsey in front of goal; that won’t help to get the fans onside.
Meade and Gervinho both leave a decent through ball to each other and it rolls out of play.
Abdoun is quite a player for Olympiacos, but he’d be even better if his teammates were on the same wavelength.
With just a bit more care and cunning, Arsenal could score here. But they either pass too early, too late, or not at all.
Ah they get it right this time, with Gervinho taking care to find Rosicky running into the area, and he coolly steers the ball into the corner.
Lee Dixon says it might not be that important to finish top anyway; way to keep the viewers tuned in, Lee.
Don’t know what’s happened to Clive over half time; as the second half starts he sounds like he’s talking from inside a cupboard. The pitch of the sound changes quickly though so he must have fought his way out of whatever makeshift prison that Andy had bundled him into (probably).
Arshavin is on for Arsenal as Rosicky goes off with an injury; bet Arsenal fans never saw that one coming. We then get a camera shot of the Russian a minute and a half into the half and he already looks to be out of breath.
Clive tries to work out how Arsenal have changed things around after that substitution and gets confused. Best to leave it to the pros like Andy Tow…oh.
Due to the lack of drama about qualification tonight, a few people are talking about a straight knockout European Cup like the old days. It will never come back; where’s the profit certainty in something like that?
Free header for Machado that Szczesny seems to tip around the post for a corner. He disputes touching it but the decision is made, and the equaliser comes from it. The ball is cleared but when it comes back in, Ramsey can’t deal with it and Maniatis finishes in off the post.
Should be another for Olympiacos, but Djebbour heads wide at the back post.
Mitroglou comes on for Olympiacos, and just a few minutes later finds the bottom corner with a long range strike. The game has turned around. Arsenal played pretty well in the first half, but haven’t appeared since the break.
No real response either after the goal. The game peters out and Arsenal will finish in second place. Will that be a problem? Well we’ll know a little more after tomorrow’s action, but really it is difficult to know until the draw. If Barcelona are paired with the Gunners, this result will be much lamented.