Patient Arsenal pass their way to late victory
Goals from Robin van Persie & Andrei Arshavin against Greek side Olympiakos maintain the Gunners’ 100 per cent record in Europe
Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 0. The merits of patient football were clear for all to see last night at the Emirates stadium as Arsene Wenger's Arsenal won for the fourth consecutive game in this season's Champions League despite a staunch rearguard action from the Greek champions Olympiakos.
All the virtues that Wenger espouses were on display as the Londoners played perfect possession football, stroking the ball all over the pitch and making the hapless Greeks, who had only won two of their previous 35 away games in the Champions League, chase the game.
Andrei Arshavin, after a lukewarm display against Fulham in the Premier League at the weekend, was the outstanding player on show, regularly turning his man and playing the quick, intelligent football so beloved of his manager. Twice in the first half the Russian drew sharp saves from the Olympiakos goalkeeper, and fashioned further chances for Cesc Fabregas.
Indeed, but for their heroic keeper Antonis Nikopolidis, the Greeks should have been smarting long before Robin van Persie broke the deadlock with just 12 minutes to go. Club captain Fabregas saw one shot hit the crossbar and another effort stifled by Nikopolidis. Diaby also missed a gilt-edged chance, towering unchalleneged above the Olympiakos defence only to miss a header from van Persie's corner.
Wenger introduced Eduardo with twenty minutes left on the clock, and the Croatian helped create the opener for van Persie, threading a pass through for van Persie to finish from up close. Arshavin’s outrageously offside backheel put a veneer on the result that Arsenal deserved through their outstanding play.
"We dominated this team from the first to the last minute, but they were well organised and disciplined," Wenger, who celebrates his 13th year in charge at Arsenal on Thursday. "We kept our composure and kept going. We played with a desire to keep the discipline in the team. We did not do anything crazy. I always felt we could score. But I'm encouraged as well because to dominate the game like we did at that level is something outstanding." ·
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