Well, we’ve been quite repetitive about squandered chances and that was the case in the Arsenal v Olympiacos game, a match where a below-par Arsenal managed to scrape through on the strength of their first-leg advantage.
Was it fatigue? Who knows, but the performance was in complete contrast to the North London Derby last Sunday and as has been often the case this season, Aubameyang refused the gifts he was given. Just why the striker’s form has deteriorated so drastically is a mystery but he now looks second best to Lacazette on numerous occasions and one wonders if he would play so often if he weren’t the captain.
I’m not a fan of giving armbands to strikers because a midfielder or a defender seems to offer more clarity to the role. The Gabon hitman’s performance in the Arsenal v Olympiacos game was abject, not the sort of inspiring type that assists the team or the cause, and Arteta has a real problem with the important Premier League run-in and the Europa League still in the balance.
Arsenal claimed their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League despite defeat to Olympiacos in the second leg of their last-16 tie pic.twitter.com/68wWGvNjpR
— PA Dugout (@PAdugout) March 18, 2021
Reputations and promises rarely bring silverware, and Aubameyang has to justify his inclusion on merit. I’m not implying he’s a spent force or past his best, I’m sure this is one of those awful periods strikers suffer intermittently, but it is an unwanted headache in a rather indifferent season.
Lacazette or Martinelli would have been my preferred options, the first for current form and ability to find the net and the other because we all want it. The Brazilian hasn’t had the chance to show us what he’s got regularly and all this keeping him wrapped in cotton wool is starting to become a bore.
Against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, he was out as the most potent weapon until an injury forced him off, but Arteta has decided to go with his more experienced strike force even if it has spluttered. Okay, he finally appeared (81) in a turgid match which wasted the eyesight for 90 minutes but at least, he looked fit and raring to go but game time is a must.
Olympiacos weren’t going to win this tie unless Arsenal did something calamitous, but the Gunners offered hope on more than one occasion which is a dangerous thing to do, especially against better opposition. Ba’s red card (82) restored some sanity to the Arsenal proceedings at least, but had the chances been taken then, panic wouldn’t have been the order of the day.
Arteta would do well to put out his strongest side than to try to balance the Premier League and Europa League because he could still fail to make a dent in both. Arsenal v Olympiacos was an instantly forgettable fixture, the type that leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and had supporters been allowed in the stadium, it would have felt as if they’d been robbed of hard-earned cash.
El-Arabi was a constant thorn in the Gunners side and he finally got his reward with Arsenal becoming increasingly jittery as the Greeks tried to claw their way back into this game. There was always at least a goal for them in this contest, possibly more, if Arsenal decided to slacken their grip.
At full time, a 0-1 loss felt like a win in a match where one craved the final whistle at half time and Arteta will be aware that his next opponents will be his last in the Europa League unless they start performing to the required level, theirs in the Arsenal v Olympiacos game certainly wasn’t it.