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Arsenal vs Olympiacos: Is Arteta’s Team Taking Shape Already?

Valentine Chinyem

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Thursday night UEFA Europa League produced some of the best performances by teams, but it was a resilient Arsenal side playing away from home, against a determined Olympiacos side, that won the show.

In a match which saw Mikel Arteta making some changes and giving his first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno his first Europa League start of the season as well as using David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi in defence, showed the gunners were in to get a point from the encounter, come what may.

It was the German goalee, Leno, who produced some fine saves and gave an impressive performance when he saved Youssef El-Arabi’s strike, and made another solid save to keep Mathieu Valbuena’s free-kick out.

The Gunners getting a goal in game was proving elusive, as the team seemed to be playing individually.

It was in fact Olympiacos who were showing more character and like a team in need of goals.

Arteta’s choice of center-backs were also seen to have improved to a larger extent, as as they showed a promising partnership between them.

Mesut Ozil was not included in the team, making it more difficult for the attackers to exploit the Olympiacos defence, as there was no player dishing out killer passes.

Young prodigy Bukayo Saka who played as a left back, kept trying to get the ball across without much success.

However, in the 81st minute, after the much needed space, Saka finally point where he was sending the ball, only for Alexandre Lacazette to grab the winner for Arsenal.

Lacazette had gone nine games without a goal, before scoring against Newcastle on Sunday, breaking his long-term goal draught.

After the UEFA Europa League tie, Arteta described Lacazette’s performance as a confidence boost from him and his team.

“That confidence and support came from me and his team-mates,” adding that, “The way they reacted when he scored, that was a lift,” he said.

He added that, “That’s not just a coincidence. It’s something that happens because the energy of the team is putting energy into him as well.”

He pointed out some defensive errors, which almost cost them, but expressed hope of improvement.

“We should have started better than we did in the first half,” he said.

“Defensively we made one or two mistakes positionally that could cost us in difficult situations, and then with the ball we gave a lot of simple balls away.”

More so, young Saka took to his Twitter profile to congratulate himself and team mate on surviving a tough game.

”Tough game but happy we got the win in the end ! Also happy to get another assist???? Enjoy Gunners !❤️

The Gunners will face Olympiacos in the return fixture which will take place on Thursday 27 February at the Emirates Stadium.

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