With Arsenal already through Arsène Wenger saw it best to rest most of his best players and give some playing time to players like Arshavin and Chamakh who have not been able to get into the side. Wenger also gave the chance to his up-and-coming youth players to impress him on a bigger stage, with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Frimpong and Coquelin starting, but those players didn’t didn’t take full advantage of it and a motivated Olympiacos showed them up.
Olympiacos deserved their win, but Arsenal definitely handed them the chances to score with poor passing and poor decision making. The inexperience of the young players was evident but they need games like that to learn from it, and honestly didn’t do terribly. Oxlade-Chamberlain probably had the best games out of them, and his talent warranted him being doubled up on if not sometimes having three players around him, but he still managed to keep the ball and deliver some good crosses.
Frimpong and Coquelin gave a good showing, but not as good as they did against Manchester City in the League Cup but Frimpong understand that it is not always about the result saying on the Arsenal Website “If the likes of me, Francis [Coquelin] and Alex [Oxlade-Chamberlain] can show we can play here, we can plan anywhere. I know we lost the game but we have to take positives from it”
Arsenal defence even with experienced Vermaelen, Squillaci, Djourou and Andre Santos always looked shaky with Djourou showing that his form is just as inconsistent at Right-Back as it is at Centre-Back. Andre Santos went off injured and Igansi Miguel came on and gave a good showing of himself and could well start the next game with Gibbs still out injured and Santos looking to be out for a little while also, Miguel gave a good showing of himself it the League Cup also and impressed it the game last night and he will be looking to stake a claim for more playing time but was happy to have made his Champions League debut telling the Arsenal Website ““It was amazing, it was a great atmosphere, I never expected it to be like this and making my debut in the Champions League is great for me. Unfortunately we lost but it was my next step for me. I just need to get here more often now”
Chelsea needing a win went out and played as if their lives depended on it and Drogba put in a performance that reminded fans why they love him so much. His hold up play, strength, control on the ball but more importantly the goals he scores. Drogba opened the scoring with only 3 minutes gone in the game with Juan Mata doing well to set him up but Drogba did brilliantly to score as his touch and drag back fooled the defender and opened up the space for him to score. That was just what Chelsea needed, an early goal to steady the ship and give a strong base to build on. Valencia had their chances to equalize with Alba hitting the post and Cech making some great saves. A change of tactics saw Chelsea defending deeper, ditching the high line that Arsenal made a mockery of. With a solid defence left to defend that meant that the rest of the attacking players could focus on just that attacking.
Drogba set up the second goal, albeit with a poor through ball, his hold up play was much better. Ramires ran onto it, but the Valencia defender, Victor Ruiz, and knocked it home. I’m sure Valencia manager, Unai Emery, will not be pleased with the defender of goalkeeper Diego Alves. Throughout the game Cech had made some great saves because if Valencia had scored it would have changed the dynamics of the game. If Valencia had drawn 2-2 that would have seen Valencia through and Chelsea out but Cech’s clean sheet was just as important as Drogba’s goals. Drogba’s second of the game and Chelsea’s third came when Juan Mata slid in the through ball for Drogba to run onto and then calmly score passed the goalkeeper with the outside of his right-foot.
Drogba praised the team on how well they played as a unit saying “We needed to be compact because they scored seven goals [in their previous Champions League match against Genk] and were in good form, and I was impressed with the way we defended.”
John Terry had high praise for Drogba when he was talking on the result saying “I think we’re all obviously delighted. We left it late in the group but we did the job and Didier was fantastic for us,’ said Terry, who today celebrates his 31st birthday. ‘We knew it was going to be difficult, which it was, and we needed a big man to hold it up and give us time to get up which he did.”
In that game Drogba showed the fans and the Chelsea hierarchy what they could miss if he decided to leave as his answer to whether or not he will be staying or going in January was very noncommittal “My future is not that important I think the most important at the moment is the team, we need to come back to the position we want to be and that is top of the league, the place we are at the moment we are not happy with it so we are working on this so my future is not important” Now my reading between the lines with that was that he was not going in January but will be leaving at the end of his contract and what to go out with Chelsea as Champions.