"So here is a quick check list for Arsène and the players
1) Win convincingly
2) Entertain me
3) Allow Walcott to continue scoring
4) Get Ramsey on the scoresheet
5) No Injuries
6) Go to number 5)
I hope that is not asking for too much, if it is then I'll take 1 and 5 from that list."
That was what I wrote in yesterdays preview but not only that no, I also wrote this
"During our second half of the season run in which we were the form team of the division, there wasn't much in the way of panic when the Columbian played, mainly because he did not do a great deal wrong but now that we have upgraded (fair to call it that) we panic when he comes back into the team"
And for the hat trick this is what I wrote on the confirmed line up article
"It is a similar team to the one fielded against Monaco at home, this time the team will have to be far more switched on offensively"
So that's it, pre match stuff are now canceled on this site for good.
On a serious note though, how emotionally draining has this season been already? And it is only the end of September. The highs of beating Chelsea in pre season to the lows of West Ham, then the improved showing at Crystal Palace and Stoke only to flop away at Zagreb etc etc. It has been like this all season really, and I thought after our good victory at Leicester we would go from strength to strength. But last night was just not good enough which is pretty much what Per Mertesacker said post match
A lot of the post match talking points have been about Arsène's decision to play David Ospina ahead of Petr Cech, a lot of people deciding not to take Arsène's word for it that Cech has been dealing with injury. I am not sure what that is based on. Arsène has never rotated keepers between the league and the Champions League before in his entire time at Arsenal. Especially with his established keepers. I find it difficult to believe he was giving David Ospina a go in such an important game just because he his desperate for him to play. I don't buy it. If that is the case and Petr Cech doesn't have any injury concerns whatsoever then he would deserve the finger being pointed in his direction.
As I mentioned in that Confirmed Line Up piece, I thought the selection was similar to the changes we made before Monaco. Two wide attackers instead of one alongside a wider central player. Two attacking full backs rather than a more conservative full back on one side. It looked great on paper and I saw plenty of Arsenal fans on Twitter rub their hands when the line up was released.
The truth is we did not look the same team going forward or defensively and were punished accordingly. If you look at the goals again, two of the three of the errors come from the areas of which changes were made. The first Olympiacos goal was a deflection off Oxlade-Chamberlain. In fact in similar fashion to the first goal scored by Monaco last season, we should have known the writing was on the wall from that point onwards. But unlike the Monaco performance, we struggled to create a great deal of clear cut chances until Alexis who was by far our best player on the night, beat his man and slipped a pass into Walcott who made a good run into space and thanks to the keeper his shot found it's way into the net somewhat fortuitously.
Then came the Ospina error, not dealing with an inswinging cross and dropping it behind his goal line. While I am not a fan of keepers punching simple catches, I wish he'd have punched it away in hindsight. It was pretty routine and one that he should have dealt with.
I wonder if the second goal was a result of Koscielny having to come off with injury. It meant a partnership of Mertesacker and Gabriel, both have spent more time playing with Koscielny who is the left sided centre back and as you can see in this graphic, both players are drawn to the right, leaving Gibbs with two men. A simple dink over the top leaves the wide player to cross the ball without any pressure.
For some reason both Gabriel and Mertesacker are not goal side of the striker which is switching off of the highest order and we were punished.
It was even more frustrating given the fact that we had just scored to make it 2-2 and a great chance to dominate the game and find a winner, but instead we shot ourselves in the foot with poor defending.
So we are looking at the Europa league in the face unless we pull our socks up drastically and even then we will need certain results to go in our favour. Not a good night at the office and we will need to iron all that out before Manchester United come to visit on Sunday.