As the second half of Arsenal’s Europa League Round of 32 match against Olympiacos ticked on, it felt as if the home side were going to find a goal. The Gunners had defended valiantly but the back line was bending towards the breaking point. Olympiacos subsitute Kostas Fortounis was giving Arsenal fits through the midfield, and the Greek side were piling up the corners and free kicks.
And then very much against the run of play, Arsenal struck. Bukayo Saka made a long run down the left, combined nicely with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and found space to put in a cross. Alexandre Lacazette did well to slip off the back shoulder of his mark and get in behind him. Saka picked him out, and Lacazette banged home.
The Gunners probably should have put the tie away a few minutes later but shoddy passing more or less neutered a 5-on-2. Lacazette still got a shot away and forced a save, but it was a low-quality opportunity for such a lopsided break. A 2-0 away would have had things done and dusted, I think. Oh well.
Overall, it wasn’t the best played match from either side. Players were misplacing passes, having loose touches, and giving the ball away frequently on the wet pitch. But Arsenal overcame the sloppiness, took care of business, and got the critical away win.
Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz had strong games (again), and the defense kept its third straight clean sheet. Matteo Guendouzi responded well to being left out at the weekend; the young midfielder put in a good shift. Mikel Arteta seems to be pressing the right buttons with the side. And don’t look now, but he might have fixed the defense (knocking on wood). The Gunners have conceded just 5 times in their last 9 matches.
Arsenal are next in action on Sunday against Everton. The return leg against Olympiacos is next Thursday.