After a disappointing loss to Chelsea last Saturday, Arsenal bounced back nicely against Olympiacos in a rainy Champions League Wednesday night matchup.
The 3-1 home win wasn't exactly pretty, and the Gunners had to overcome moments of lethargy to see off the Greek Super League leaders. Olympiacos' lone goal came at the end of the first half when the hosts were obviously waiting to hear the whistle for the end of the half. A complete lack of urgency and giving way too much space in the final third resulted in a fine goal headed in by Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou.
That, of course, left Gooners upset and head coach Arsene Wenger, who was sitting in the stands due to a suspension by UEFA, with even more pronounced forehead lines than usual. The defensive lapse essentially canceled out Gervinho's opening goal and threw away the lead.
The second half was a much different story. Gervinho kept being oddly fantastic as he assisted Lukas Podolski's goal. And just as icing on the cake, Aaron Ramsey flicked the ball over the goalkeeper in the closing moments of the game for Arsenal's third goal.
Speaking of Gervinho, this was probably his best performance of the year. His decision making was surprising, considering he usually takes on multiple defenders by himself which results in him losing the ball. But today, he made all the correct passes inside the box to set up his teammates. His touch was exceptional as well. The most noticeable difference from last year is his swagger, which was missing to an extent. This year he knows what he's capable of. To put it simply, Olympiacos had no answer for him.
Santi Cazorla was his usual self, the duo of Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs was spectacular in defense, and Vito Mannone looked confident protecting the goal. Almost everyone who played, played well. Team captain Thomas Vermaelen and Francis Coquelin were the only two who had a game to forget.
Vermaelen was frequently out of position and made some questionable tackles which gave away free kicks in undesirable areas. One possible explanation for his performance was the fact that he played next to Laurent Koscielny again. It's becoming increasingly clearer that those two do not make an ideal combination, and that Per Mertesacker needs to be on the pitch with either one of those two to truly have an effective partnership in the center-back position.
As for Coquelin, it almost looked like the game was moving too fast for him. His passes were inaccurate and possession was lost because of him several times. But, he's young so he has plenty of time to improve.
The win puts Arsenal in a dominant position at the top of Group B with six points. Its next group encounter will be in three weeks when Schalke 04 pays a visit to Emirates Stadium.