Glimpses of the old and shades of the new as Arsenal make Olympiakos suffer

I don’t know why but I kept feeling there was some joy in the air at the Emirates and it was coming straight into my living room from the TV set. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But I haven’t felt so happy seeing an Arsenal performance for a long time. Even when we were not scoring, there was something really positive in the body language of the players and the tempo at which they were playing. The goals had to come.

The runs into the box by Fabregas and Rosicky in particular reminded me of the way Pires and Ljunberg used to dart in. It was almost like watching the invincibles. Rosicky has something about his game that no one else in the team has. I can’t really pin point what it is. To be honest I don’t know what it is. But every time he is on the field he seems to find the right position without even trying. We have missed the midfield runs for a long time now and it’s fascinating to see an integral part of our attack coming back to life.

Yesterday was also the first time when we saw Arshavin and Van Persie link up so well. In the earlier games it always seemed to me that they were not exactly on the same wavelength but some of the one touch passing last night was breathtaking. It was interesting to listen to RvP’s post match comments, especially his assessment of how the team is playing

Quite well. We have played eight or nine games and lost two, and every other game we won, so it’s not too bad. We’re still not there yet, but we are on our way.

When you know that the players realize they are playing well but there is room for improvement it tells you two things; the confidence in the squad should be high and more importantly they know there is room for improvement that means they are constantly working on it. There is no complacency.

Olympiakos came into this game with a fantastic defensive record having conceded only two goals in the season so far. They also came on the back of five wins and clean sheets in the Champions League qualifying rounds and the first game against AZ. The way we opened up such an organized team and left them looking out of place and demoralized should eliminate any doubts about our ability to open up defensive minded teams.

Two wins out of two should also help us in securing the qualification for the knockout stages with a couple of games to spare. As I had observed after the champions league draw, our last two group matches precede a visit from Chelsea and a trip to Anfield. It will be very helpful if we have our second round pass secured before those games. The draw between AZ and Liege should also help in that. Even if we get four points against AZ we should be through.

Amongst all the positives from the game there was one worrying aspect. After we scored the first goal our game became sloppy. Too many players switched off. It’s very surprising but it happens so often. After dominating the game for so long how can we suddenly stop getting the passes right, how can we lose the ball so cheaply, why do we make the lives of our defenders and goalkeeper so miserable in the last few minutes. This is exactly the reason why we fail to defend a lead against the big teams. Olympiakos didn’t have the class in the final third but a lot of top teams make us pay. A lucky off side goal from Arshavin helped us last night but we really have to sort this issue out. The whole team has to learn to focus till the final whistle blows.

Anyway I don’t want to dwell too much on the negative after such a delightful performance. Our winning streak has started gathering some steam and with the likes of Blackburn and Birmingham lined up we should continue our forward momentum.


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