Arsenal: Rating the Gunners Players Against Olympiacos

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IIDecember 5, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium on December 1, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Well, at least the result didn't really matter for Arsenal.

For the second year in a row, the Gunners lost to Olympiacos in Greece during the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League Group Stage. And for the second year in a row, the loss does not really have any significance.

Though it would have been lovely for Arsenal to build some positive momentum and increase morale ahead of their crucial Premier League game at West Bromwich Albion this weekend.

Even if the Gunners had won, they would have needed a margin of victory of more than one goal to give them the top spot in their group. And with teams like AC Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid finishing second in their groups, perhaps following suit is not such a bad thing.

Nevertheless, a threadbare Arsenal squad continued the team's extended barren run.

Tomas Rosicky scored in the 38th minute on his return to starting action, but things quickly went downhill for Arsenal in the second half.

After constantly putting pressure on Wojciech Szczesny's goal, Giannis Maniatis netted from a corner that Szczesny thought never should have been given. His mini meltdown earned him a yellow card, and Arsenal's end would not come much later.

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Kostas Mitroglou, who has been a thorn in Arsenal's side whenever they play Olympiacos, came off the bench to curl a decent strike past Szczesny, who did not have a clear view of the shot.

With a paucity of options on the bench and little resolve to win a meaningless game, the scoreline remained 2-1.

While this result is not a cause for self-flagellation, it will worry Arsenal fans that the team's last win came against Montpellier two weeks ago.

Let's look with circumspection, if we can, at each Arsenal player's performance against Olympiacos.

Wojciech Szczesny: 6.5

There was very little that Szczesny could have done about Olympiacos' first goal, after which he got a yellow card for dissent, but he was found a little bit wanting on the second.

He was unsighted a bit, but had his positioning been a little better, he might have had a chance at keeping out a savable strike.

Other than that one gripe, the Pole held his own, making some routine saves and generally cutting a reassuring figure between the posts.

Carl Jenkinson: 6.5

Jenkinson generally played well, but the attacking side of his game was far better than the defensive.

He used his pace effectively, picking his moments to race along the touchline and support the forwards. While his presence was welcome, there was very little end product, which was desperately needed.

Unfortunately, Jenkinson's most memorable moment of the match was ball-watching to allow Rafik Djebbour a free-header from inside five yards. Incredibly, Djebbour missed. But that underscores the fact that the right-back needs further polish.

Sebastien Squillaci: 6

The pessimists among us might have expected a total meltdown from a player whose time at Arsenal is clearly up as he has not played in 11 months. But Sebastien Squillaci actually turned in a remarkably decent performance.

Old flaws were certainly evident. He was not very vocal, for example, and had trouble communicating with and taking control of those around him. Perhaps he trusted those duties to captain Thomas Vermaelen, but it made him less effective.

A commendable first-half performance was followed by some missed tackles and instances of bad positioning, but it's tough to complain about Squillaci's performance on the whole.

Thomas Vermaelen: 7

If Sebastien Squillaci decided to leave the communicative duties to his captain, he made the wrong choice.

Vermaelen did not lead with the effectiveness that a captain should, conceding the equalizer off a corner kick due to the defense's poor positioning. Thereafter, Arsenal were much less composed and organized.

However, the Belgian made a number of effective, well-timed challenges, in addition to several important interceptions and blocks, mainly in the first half.

Jernade Meade: 7.5

Meade took his rare chance to shine and truly made the most of it. A manager with the keen eye of Arsene Wenger will not fail to see the youngster's impressive performance at left back.

Many young players have a tendency to try a bit too hard in their first games, but Meade kept it simple. Using his athleticism to his advantage, he tackled well, got forward to good effect and did all the basic tasks with aplomb.

Meade's rating only suffers because he was not excellent throughout the entire match, fading a little towards the end of the second half.

Francis Coquelin: 5.5

Based on this performance, Coquelin is not quite ready for regular first team action and might benefit from a bit more development on the basic aspects of his game.

Assuming Mikel Arteta's role of midfield metronome is not easy, and Coquelin did not try to pass the ball 100 times. Yet when he did, it too often missed its target.

His problem recently has been getting sufficiently involved in the game, and most of the time when he did against Olympiacos, he was giving away either the ball or a free-kick.

Aaron Ramsey: 5.5

 You will not see any vitriol directed against Aaron Ramsey in this space, as others might be inclined to do. The simple facts are that Ramsey had a poor game, is going through a rough patch and needs the fans to cut him a little slack.

That said, the Welshman's performance was very substandard. Far too many of his passes went astray, and he wasted a golden scoring opportunity from about 10 yards out in the first half.

Ramsey's work rate and determination are admirable, but the technical side of his game needs to improve.

Tomas Rosicky: 8

It was obvious during the all-too brief time during which Rosicky played that he was the best player on the pitch, even after five months out of the game.

He was only on the pitch for the first 45 minutes, but Rosicky drove Arsenal's midfield forward with his positive passing and constant desire to get forward. One gets the sense that, when fit, the Czech could help to relieve some of the Gunners' recent malaise going forward.

Gervinho: 5

Gervinho is such an infuriating player because there is obviously so much talent housed in his skinny legs, but he can never seem to coax it out.

Early on, he had a shot at goal from reasonably close range and missed the target high and wide. That defined the Ivorian's performance, which was riddled with misplaced passes, obvious passes not made and chances wasted.

Gervinho's assist was obviously a major positive contribution to the game, but it was far outnumbered by the negative ones. It is one of those statistical quirks that does not reflect a player's true quality.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 5.5

 The case of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain really is a curious one.

Conspiracy theorists and haters of international football might point to Euro 2012 as the catalyst of The Ox's precipitous decline, but there is really no telling what has dulled such a bright talent this season.

Whatever the cause, the result hurts Arsenal. Oxlade-Chamberlain struggled, as he has in recent matches, to get involved in the game, and when he did he was not nearly as sharp as we know he is capable of being.

Marouane Chamakh: 4.5

It was all too clear why the Moroccan is simply running out the clock at Arsenal and why Arsene Wenger refuses even to include him on the bench when Olivier Giroud is the only striker on the team.

Almost every aspect of Chamakh's game is dreadful.

He failed to receive the ball in favorable positions because his movement is lackluster, his elephantine first touch frustratingly gave away the ball when Arsenal needed it most and he lacks the ability to pass the ball with any crispness or consistency.

In short, he contributes more to the team by not being on it. Perhaps he could find his form again someday, but Arsene Wenger is almost certainly not going to give him that chance.


Andrey Arshavin: 6

Another frustrating display for the enigmatic little Russian. He replaced Tomas Rosicky at halftime, and while more comfortable in the center of the field, he only flashed his ability once or twice. 

On the whole, Arshavin was unsurprisingly but frustratingly ineffective.

Martin Angha

 He has a great name, but unfortunately he did not play enough during his eight-minute cameo to merit a rating.


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