The Gunners avoided blues against the team that knocked them out of the Europa League last season as they beat Olympiakos in the first leg of their round of 16 tie in Piraeus, Greece.
The English club eased to a comfortable victory over the Greek champions in Athens, Piraeus. Martin Odegaard gave the north London side the lead after 34 minutes, which was enough to secure the lead going into the break.
The home team, however, found an equaliser in the 58th minute as a poor Bernd Leno pass to Dani Ceballos saw the Spaniard getting caught out as Moroccan striker Youssef El-Arabi pounced on the opportunity and comfortably put the ball past German Leno in Arsenal’s goal.
This was not the first moment in the game where Arsenal gave the ball away cheaply and in a dangerous area. Earlier on, David Luiz and Martin Odegaard were both very lax in their passing but the Greek side failed to capitalise on those previous occasions.
Mikel Arteta was pleased with the result but was extremely disappointed with the mistakes as they failed to keep a clean sheet.
“We have to be very clear and honest with ourselves. We gave three chances to the opponent, they took one and at that level they are going to punish you,” Arteta said.
“If we want to go to the next level we have to stop that and be more ruthless and when we are that dominant, kill the games off.”
“The goals and chances we have conceded are coming from ourselves,” Arteta added.
“That’s positive because when we stop it, we will be stronger. The reality is that we have to stop it immediately. It’s my responsibility. I make them play the way we want to play. It is just understanding the risk and reward.”
Arsenal were patient after Olympiakos got the equaliser as they knew they already had the away goal advantage and a win would be a bonus going into the second leg at the Emirates Stadium in England.
The pressure did pay eventually as Arsenal defender Gabriel met Willian’s corner kick perfectly to head home in the 79th minute.
Egyptian footballer Mohamed Elneny made it 3-1 for the Gunners with 5 minutes left to secure 3 away goals and a good win for the side heading into the second leg.
Mikel Arteta’s side are in a strong position to go through now after their showing at the Karaiskakis Stadium and look like they will overcome last season’s upset.
Arsenal manager Arteta went on to say, “We started the game really well, really dominant and creating a lot of chances.
“We gave them a goal trying to play out from the back but then we reacted well to score two more goals. Overall a really positive result but we have to stop making the errors that are costing goals because we cannot sustain that.
“This is half-time and anything can happen. Full focus and we start 0-0 again in the second leg and try to win the game.”