Shkodran Mustafi was the sole bright spot as Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 loss to Olympiacos to be booted out of the Europa League on away goals.
The first half was a dreary affair, with chances coming few and far between, with Shkodran Mustafi key in ensuring the game was goalless heading into half-time. The game kicked into life early into the second half, as Pape Abou Cisse gave Olympiacos the lead, heading in from Mathieu Valbuena’s corner. The Gunners were subsequently unable to get a goal back till the end of regulation time.
With the game heading to extra time, Arsenal slowly grew in the game and levelled the score, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from a fantastic acrobatic effort. However, the night would end in nightmarish fashion for the hosts, as Youssef El-Arabi scored from close range to restore the lead for Olympiacos.
Aubameyang was then unable to score from point-blank range, as Olympiacos held on to their slender advantage. While the aggregate score read 2-2, Arsenal went crashing out of the Europa League due to the away goals rule. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 4/10
While Leno was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, the German goalkeeper had a role to play in Arsenal’s elimination, which has significantly brought down his rating. The Arsenal no. 1 made a couple of fine stops and was decent with the ball at his feet.
However, when he needed to hold his nerve and clear the ball, Leno bizarrely took a first touch, which was heavy and led to the corner which eventually ended with Olympiacos’ second of the night. A rare error by Leno.
Hector Bellerin: 4/10
Starting at right-back yet again, Bellerin seemed a bit jaded and it looked as if the minutes are starting to catch up. Solid to begin with, the Spaniard became loose with possession and was a suspect customer at the back. Did not enjoy the best of times against Konstantinos Tsimikas. Back to the drawing board.
Shkodran Mustafi: 8/10
Yet again, Mustafi was colossal at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Solid for pretty much his entire stay on the pitch, the German defender was crucial in ensuring Arsenal did not fall behind early on, making a couple of pivotal blocks in the first half.
Mustafi only became better as the game wore on, winning 6 aerial duels while also making three interceptions and creating a couple of chances. His absence was ultimately telling as it was an aerial ball that David Luiz was unable to deal with. The injury Mustafi picked up must be a source of concern for Arteta.
David Luiz: 3/10
A dreadful evening for Luiz, who could not manage to impose himself in the game. Always looked nervy when Olympiacos took the game to Arsenal and was not always assured with the ball at his feet. Looked better in the second half, but in the crucial moment, he made a damning error, as Youssef El-Arabi sent Olympiacos through to the next round.
Bukayo Saka: 6/10
Another solid effort by Saka, who just continues to grow in the left-back role. While Lazar Randelovic did find some joy in behind him, the youngster showed good application in the defensive phase. Going forward, Saka carried a great deal of threat and thought he had provided another assist before Alexandre Lacazette was denied by an offside call.
Dani Ceballos: 6/10
Hands down, the best midfielder on the pitch. Ceballos was not always in his elements. However, on a night when Granit Xhaka was sub-par, the Spaniard pulled the string well and worked hard off the ball as well. Made three interceptions on the night – only David Luiz effected more interceptions among Arsenal players. Another step in the right direction.
Granit Xhaka: 5/10
An off day for Xhaka, who struggled to assume control of the game in the middle of the park. Got overrun a few too many times in central areas and he needs to address that issue, considering Everton also exploited that at times last weekend. Moved the ball forward at a slow pace, which meant Arsenal struggled to build momentum. A rare blip going by his recent form.
Nicolas Pepe: 5/10
A game of hits and misses for Pepe. While he was easily Arsenal’s most threatening player, he also lost the ball too many times (32), which helped ease off some of the pressure on Olympiacos. Pepe, though, also completed 12 take-ons, the most that any player has in a Europa League game this term.
Got Arsenal’s first shot on target, with Jose Sa making a fine fingertip save to deny him. Still, Pepe could have done a whole lot more considering the sheer amount of time he enjoyed on the ball.
Mesut Ozil: 4/10
Arsenal’s chief creative exponent was off colour against Olympiacos, struggling to get up to the pace of the game for much of regulation time. Ozil did work hard off the ball and made three successful tackles. However, on the ball, there was very little substance and he found it tough to get into pockets of space. Did put the ball in that eventually led to Aubameyang’s goal, though.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
113’ – Aubameyang scores with an incredible bicycle kick to put Arsenal ahead on aggregate
119’ – Olympiakos score the decisive away goal
120+3’ – Aubameyang misses a sitter pic.twitter.com/eQBou7ZEzK
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 27, 2020
This was a game in which Aubameyang experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. For large parts of the game, the Arsenal captain could not find a way into the game, although he ran his socks off to help his team out in the defensive phase.
Scored a wondrous goal with seven minutes left, which left Arsenal with little time to hold on to a narrow aggregate lead. However, with Olympiacos scoring, Aubameyang then inexplicably missed a snapshot from close range as Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League.
Alexandre Lacazette: 4/10
The player to watch in our preview, this was a game that Lacazette could have used to force his way back into Arteta’s plans at a time when Eddie Nketiah has been making waves. However, the French striker failed to make an impression, with a horrendous headed miss from point-blank range standing out. Needs to do better.
Lucas Torreira: 5/10
On for Ceballos, Torreira helped give Arsenal a more solid base in midfield, but also did not shy from scouring for scoring opportunities in the final third. However, after a bright start to his cameo, the Uruguayan faded and could not manage to make the desired impact.
Joe Willock: 5/10
Willock replaced Bellerin and struggled to get into the game. Seemed to be lacking sharpness in the time he was on the pitch, in what was a missed opportunity for him.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 5/10
On for the injured Mustafi, Sokratis could not manage to provide a stability at the back.
Gabriel Martinelli: 7/10
Given the final 15 minutes, Martinelli made an instant impact, holding an Olympiacos defender up as Aubameyang scored the leveller. Continued posing a threat late on, but could not manage to score the game-changing goal.