(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal have taken the advantage in their Europa League round of 16 tie, defeating the Greek side 3-1 at the Karaiskakis Stadium. A result that, whilst on the outside looks impressive, was not particularly reflective of the game. As far as I see it, we played poorly. But, three away goals and a two goal advantage to take back for the second leg is very palatable. Here’s a look at my player ratings for the game.
Leno – 5 : Shouldn’t have played the ball to Ceballos for the Olympiacos goal. Needs to learn to not just follow his instructions, but use his own decision making at times. Should have just kicked long.
Bellerin – 6 : Thought his work rate and engine throughout the game was impressive. Worked himself into good attacking positions but let down on the final ball at times. Not a bad display.
Luiz – 5 : Pretty standard performance. Wasn’t particularly tested but had a few worrying moments. Nothing more to say, really.
Gabriel – 8 (MOTM) : From a defensive perspective he was physically strong. Very secure. But when you score a goal like that at a time like that, you cannot give the player less than an 8. A glorious leap, and an amazing header. Clutch.
Tierney – 7 : Mr. Consistent was once again one of our best players. Worked relentlessly up his flank (much like Bellerin), but created several chances also. Has been robbed of something like 10 assists this season due to poor finishing. Good performance.
Xhaka – 7 : Not a bad display, and was one of the better players. Made a few mistakes on the ball but didn’t lead to any significant change in the game. Reacted well to last game’s mistake.
Partey – 6 : I don’t think this was the best version of Thomas Partey on display tonight, but he was solid. Can play a lot better, but overall did not have a day display. Was the first substitute off, and we could notice the difference without his security on the pitch.
Saka – 6 : Not too impactful today but a steady performance from the teenager. Did what he had to do, dribbled with the ball well and linked up nicely. Was once again the target of rotational fouling from the opposition.
Ødegaard – 6 : Here me out on this one… Yes he scored an excellent goal, but other than that one moment I thought he was very average today. Pleased to see him on the score sheet, but hope he can have a greater impact in overall play moving forward.
Willian – 7 : Was one of the few players who looked secure throughout. Worked hard on and off the ball, and got his reward with another assist- for Gabriel’s towering header. Another one to add to the string of good performances Willian has put together recently.
Aubameyang – 5 : Wasn’t involved at all today, unfortunately. Didn’t get much service in fairness, but he didn’t try to impose himself either. Should we have not won today, I imagine he’d have been subject to a fair bit of criticism.
Ceballos – 3: He wasn’t helped by Leno’s pass, but he was too at fault for the Olympiacos goal just after he came on. I always feel slightly nervous when Dani is on the ball.
Elneny– 10 : Need I say anything? Came on, scored a stunner and made the result a whole lot better. The Europa League Pirlo had his shooting boots on tonight!
Pepe, Smith Rowe and Lacazette – N/A : Can be bunched together as they didn’t have enough time to gain a rating. The former two played the last eight minutes, whilst the latter came on for the last two.
Not our best performance, but a very solid result. A good lead to take into the home leg. We move on to the North London Derby!