Kieran Tierney and Martin Odegaard impressed as Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners against Olympiacos in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg.
Arsenal dominated the early exchanges, with both the full-backs putting Olympiacos under the cosh in the opening quarter of the game or so. After a few half-chances, the Gunners were deservedly ahead in the 34th minute, as Martin Odegaard scored from a thunderous long-range effort. Arsenal, though, were fortunate to not go into half-time with the game on level terms.
David Luiz inexplicably gifted the ball inside the box to Giorgos Masouras, who bizarrely missed the target from close range. The Gunners, though, did not learn from their mistakes and post the break, as a poor ball by Bernd Leno put Dani Ceballos under pressure, with the Spaniard giving the ball away for Youssef El Arabi to equalise for Olympiacos.
Arsenal, though, were not getting unnerved by the error-prone moments at the back, as late goals by Gabriel Magalhaes and Mohamed Elneny sealed all three points and handed the advantage to their side ahead of the home leg next week. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 4/10
Usually so assured when playing out from the back, it is now the second instance of poor decision-making in as many games for Leno. This time around he sold Dani Ceballos short before eventually conceding the goal to Olympiacos. Hardly tested otherwise.
Hector Bellerin: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup, this was Bellerin’s chance to impress and that is exactly what he did. Given the license to charge forward, the Spanish international camped himself in the Olympiacos half for large parts of the game and sent in some inviting crosses, all while keeping a healthy pass completion rate of 85 percent. Should have earned his place back for good.
David Luiz: 5/10
A nervy display by Luiz, who gave the ball away cheaply inside the Arsenal box in the first half but was fortunate not to be punished for it. Lost the ball 9 times, with hardly any of his long balls reaching the intended target. Did not look all too comfortable in the second half either.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 7/10
Just the kind of performance Gabriel needed to put in to give Mikel Arteta the problem of many. The Brazilian could have perhaps, done a bit better to deny Youssef El Arabi for the goal that Olympiacos scored, but he was solid otherwise, winning 5 duels while completing 3 clearances, 2 tackles, 2 blocks and 1 interception. His goal was effectively the match-winner, a superbly caressed header.
Gabriel's game by numbers for Arsenal vs. Olympiacos:
100% aerials won
90% passing accuracy
5 ball recoveries
1 foul won
0 x dribbled past
Wow. 👏 pic.twitter.com/xXwIF0hY90
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 11, 2021
Kieran Tierney: 8/10
After a sub-par performance against Burnley, Tierney was much-improved this time around, as he unleashed run after marauding run to put Olympiacos under the cosh. Should have been rewarded with an assist only for Martin Odegaard to miss the target. Top-notch work at the back as well, as he won 6/7 duels in addition to completing 3 tackles, 1 interception and 1 clearance. Such a gem.
Thomas Partey: 6/10
A bit of a downgrade on his performance on the weekend, as he did not get as involved as he usually does, with most the moves flowing through the flanks. Lasted just 55 minutes on the pitch, in a bid to preserve him for the North London derby this weekend.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
After the calamitous display against Burnley, this was a night of redemption for Xhaka, who put in a shift and helped provide Arsenal the control in the game. The former Arsenal captain also covered ground for Tierney whenever he bombed forward while being efficient in his output on the ball. Job well done.
Bukayo Saka: 7/10
Not the best of displays by Saka, who was often overcrowded by Olympiacos. However, it is the mark of a truly talented individual when he still manages to influence the proceedings. Played 1 key pass while only misplacing 5 passes all game.
Martin Odegaard: 8/10
A top-class display by Odegaard, who produced his best performance yet in an Arsenal shirt. Created as many as four chances, linking up superbly with Saka, Tierney and Bellerin. The moment of the match, though, was his driven shot that went into the roof of the net. What a way to open your account for the club!
Martin Odegaard was directly involved in four shots in the first half for Arsenal, as many as Olympiacos managed as a team.
He should shoot from distance more often. 😉 pic.twitter.com/LlE6WJ7Tx1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 11, 2021
A surprise pick by Arteta, although Willian vindicated that decision with a purposeful display. Did well to combine with Tierney and allow the Scot enough room to overlap and send in inviting balls. Played a couple of key passes while only losing the ball 7 times all game. Also put in a shift off the ball, making 2 clearances.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6.5/10
Flitted in and out of the game. Aubameyang, though, was undone by a brilliant save by Jose Sa from his headed effort. Otherwise, the Arsenal captain hardly got any opportunities to find the back of the net, with the players behind him seeing more action.
Dani Ceballos: 6/10
Yes, he gave the ball away before Olympiacos pulled back on level terms, but Leno was more culpable in that moment. Looked to push Arsenal forward, but could not up the tempo of the game as well as he would have liked.
Mohamed Elneny: 7/10
Players coming on any later than the 75th-minute mark do not usually get rated, but Elneny scored a peach of a strike that did not only put this particular game to bed but handed Arsenal a third away goal, which almost certainly should send them through to the quarter-finals, which earns him a 7.
Emile Smith Rowe: N/A
On for Odegaard, Smith Rowe got some crucial minutes under his belt to build his sharpness again but did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Nicolas Pepe: N/A
On for Saka, Pepe did not have any time to influence the game.
Alexandre Lacazette: N/A
A late introduction, Lacazette hardly had any time to make an impact.