• Gervinho, Podolski and Ramsey score as Arsenal recover from sluggish start
Full-time: Arsenal were given a decent test by a good Olympiakos side. They were skittish in the first half and the Greeks fully deserved to go in level but Arsenal improved in the second period and played with greater dynamism and creativity.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-1 Olympiakos (Ramsey 90+3') Perfect simplicity! Mannone booted one long, Giroud flicked it on smartly, and Ramsey raced through to clip it daintily over the keeper.
90+2 min: Ouch! That looks serious for Coquelin, who slid in to win a tackle well but then, as he got up, appeared to pull something in his calf and collapsed back to the ground.
90 min: Montpellier have equalised in the last minute at Schalke, meaning Arsenal will have a nice gap at the top of the group provided they don't slip up at the death here.
89 min: Superb play by Arsenal, with Cazorla and Ramsey combining brilliantly on the left before Cazorla pulls the ball into the box and Giroud smashes it goalward .. only to be denied by Siovas, who made a saving block.
88 min: Jenkison has had a fine game and he's trying to underline that with an assist: he's sent in three tempting crosses from the right in the last couple of minutes, all dealt with smartly by the defence.
87 min: Arsenal hogging possession now as they seek to see this one out. "I'm convinced Gervinho is actually a twin, and they subtly switch with each other over the course of the game," blarts Harry Crane. "One minute he'll be brilliant, the next he'll be dire, if he could sort out his first touch and find some consistency he could be a real top player and pivotal in an Arsenal title challenge." I hear you. Although in addition to his touch, he could do with sharpening his decision-making too.
85 min: Walcott hurtles down the right and pings in a delightful cross that Giroud does well to meet at the near post ahead of his marker. Good save by the keeper.
84 min: Abdoun races down the left behind Jenkinson. His spanks in a decent cross but Mannone, who has been jittery on several occasions tonight, intercepts well.
81 min: Arsenal substitutions: To a tremendous ovation Gervinho leaves the pitch, as does Podolski. Giroud and Ramsey enter the fray.
80 min: Chants of "Theo, Theo, Theo" go up as popular TV personality Theo Paphitis arrives to distribute toffee and beetroot in the crowd. Either that, or because Theo Walcott has just scorched down the right and put in a testing cross.
78 min: Cute ball by Vermaelen ... followed by a preposterously awful touch by Gervinho, who wellies it out of play whilst attempting to trap it.
77 min: Arsenal relieve the pressure that had been mounting with a brilliant counterattack. After a lovely zippy move, Walcott was set free down the right and he fired a low cross into the six-yard box, where Megyeri pounced just as the in-rushing Vermaelen seemed set to convert!
75 min: Olympiakos change: Diakité off, Ibagaza on. Another attacking switch. They know they can get something from this game.
74 min: Machado wafts a shot way wide from the edge of the box. But the threat from Olympiakos is growing. Arsenal could do with a third goal here ...
73 min: Arsenal change: Oxlade-Chamberlain off, Walcott on.
71 min: Fuster swivels to make space for a shot, then tonks a low one at Mannone from 25 yards. Comfortably held by the keeper.
69 min: Olympiakos change Abdoun on, Greco off. Abdoun is a much more attacking wideman than the departed Greco.
67 min: Mannone inexplicably allows the ball to roll out for a corner of his legs. Arsenal then let the Greeks take the corner quickly and are fortunate that no serious chance results.
65 min: Excellent defending by Holebas to recover and thwart Oxladce-Chamblerain after the winger had dashed past him down the right to latch on to a beautiful pass from the increasingly influential Cazorla. Meanwhile, the other match in this group, between Schalke are beating Montpellier 2-1.
63 min: Contreras rightly booked for clattering into Oxlade-Chamberlain after the youngster had outwitted him down the right. Arteta hoists in the freekick ... and Koscielny nods over from six yards! That's a wretched miss!
61 min: Cunning interplay between Machado and Metroglou down the right before the latter curls a reasonable effort wide from the corner of the box.
58 min: Unlike in the first half, Arsenal are showing no signs of dozing off after their goal. Gervinho, who is suddenly excellent, again pulls strings cleverly at the edge of the box before playing in Cazorla, who is dispossessed at the last by Contreras.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Olympiakos (Podolski 56') Nice goal! And Gervinho's role in its creation was crucial. He swapped cutting passes with Cazrola and then, when the ball came back to him after his initial cross was blocked, he showed astuteness to pull it back for Podolski, whose low shot from 10 yards found its way past the keeper!
53 min: Olympiakos take a quick freekick and work a shooting opportunity for Metroglou, who lets fly from 25 yards. Well struck but wide.
50 min: Chance for Arsenal! Gibbs did well again down the left before feeding Podolski, who didn't do so well. But Arsenal regained possession and supplied Gervinho, who showed uncharacteristically fine decision-making acumen by wrong-footing a defender before calmly laying the ball into the path of Carzola ... but from 10 yards t he Spaniard sidefoots way wide!
48 min: Olympiakos continue to press and pester Arsenal, who still can't find fluency. "Arsenal are pants," bellow William Marzouk. "I'm taking the half time break to write an email to a potential employer, trying to come up with new and interesting ways to kiss ass without letting them know I'm kissing ass. Kind of like Tom Vermaelen's defending today." If anyone would like to help William out by suggesting 'new and interesting ways of kissing ass', please feel free.
46 min: Here we go again. No personnel changes but let's see if there will at least be a new mindset from Arsenal.
Half-time: Arsenal have been lax and the visitors fully deserve to be level at least. The pressing and diligence of the Greeks have forced constant errors from this leaderless Arsenal team, whose only regular threats have come from the two full-backs. Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain have flickered and, of course, Gervinho scored to remind us that he was on the pitch but other than that, Arsenal have been poor going forward and slack all round. Changes needed. I'd chuck on Walcott for Podolski and Giroud for Gervinho.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Olympiakos (Mitroglou 45') That's fully deserved by Olympiakos and rightful comeuppance for Arsenal! The home team's sloppiness persisted as Greco was allowed to size up a cross from the right and he delivered a delicious ball, which Mitroglou met near the penalty spot to glance a perfect header into the far corner!
44 min: The goal has not cured Arsenal's sloppiness: Vermaelen gives the ball away in his own half with an unforgivably careless pass. Mitroglou's 25-yard shot is saved by Mannone.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Olympiakos (Gervinho 42') There endeth the Greek diligence! Cazorla showed some twinkly skills down the left but everything was too easy for them after that, including the woolly atttempted tackle on Arteta at the edge of the area and the sluggish dive of goalkeeper Megyeri, who allowed Gervinho's rather tame effort from 20 yards to find the net.
40 min: Arsenal are looking increasingly clueless, Olympiakos increasingly composed and even threatening ...
38 min: Siovas is having splendid game in the middle for Olympiakos, being the main destroyer of Arsenal's scheming. His latest intervention, at the expense of Coquelin, led to another promising Olympiakos attack which was curtailed by another Koscileny foul. Machado takes the freekick but it's straight at Mannone.
35 min: That's the best move of the game, the best chance, and a bad miss by Machado! Maniatis and Diakité combined nicely down the right before the former clipped in a wicked cross. Machado surged from deep to meet it but slashed over from close range. Lucky Arsenal!
33 min: It's tight and wet at the Emirates. Elsewhere, Schalke have equalised at home to Montpellier.
31 min: Another Arsenal corner, another comfortable clearance.
28 min: Koscielny escapes with a yellow card for a wild two-footed tackle. And from the resultant freekick on mid-way, Olympiakos surge forward and Mitroglou sends in a fine low swirling shot that Mannone saves with difficulty.
27 min: Cazorla summons the sort of subtlety that Arsenal have lacked so far, slipping a dainty ball through to Gibbs, who had made a smart run behind the full-back. His cross was decent but Gervinho, not being a natural striker, was nowhere to be seen and the defence clear it comfortably.
26 min: Sloppiness is creeping into Arsenal's play as their frustration at not being able to pierce the diligent Greeks grows.
23 min: Arsenal win their fourth corner of the game and, as on each of the previous occasion, do not look like posing any threat from it.
21 min: Groans from the crowd as, for the second time in a minute, Coquelin tries an over-ambitious pass and hits it straight to an opponent. Cazrola rushes in to win the ball back off Greco, who takes that as his cue to fall down. And stay there for a couple of minutes. That's the third time in the match so far that one of the visiting players has done that. It'll be interesting to see how much time the ref adds on at the end of this half. They almost always seem to plump for one at the end of the first and three after 90 minutes.
19 min: The Greeks' vigilance and Arsenal lack of ideas has made this pedestrian fare so far. Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain have hinted at ingenuity and Gibbs and Jenkinson are bombing forward regularly down the wings but other than that, not much. Podolski and Gervinho have been largley irrelevant.
15 min: With little of interest happening on the pitch, the cameras pans to Olympiakos manager Leonardo Jardim, who is clad in a large red bubble jacket. "He looks a cool customer," says an approving Niall Quinn on Sky, no doubt thinking of a neat bubble jacket/disco pants ensemble.
13 min: Olympiakos are enjoying a bout of possession but it ends when Diakité sends a humdrum cross into the box that Vermaelen deals with easily. Meanwhile, in the other match in this group, Schalke are losing 0-1 to Montpellier.
11 min: Gibbs embarks on a blazing run down the left, winning a freekick at the edge of the box. The angle seemed too acute for a shot but Cazorla went for it anyway and his fierce effort brought a decent save from Megyeri. Corner to Arsenal.
8 min: Olympiakos appear to have identified Cazorla as the main threat, as they rush to close him down in numbers every time he gets the ball. They've succeeded in stifling him so far, particularly Siovas who seems to be his main marker. But Arsenal are looking dangerous down the flanks, particularly on OXlade-Chamberlain's side.
6 min: Excellent work by Oxlade-Chamberlain, who's ignited the crowd's passion by chasing down opponents and winning the ball twice in a minute. And he produced a sumptuous cross afterwards, too, though the Greeks defended those better.
5 min: It's lashing at the Emirates, with the rain hammering the grass in some kind of Samuel Kuffour tribute. But that's no excuse for the shoddy pass just perpetrated by Mannone. His waywardness gave Olympiakos a chance but Vermaelen tidied up at the expense of a corner.
3 min: Arsenal have dominated possession so far but they've yet to get behind or through the visitors.
1 min: Off we go, the depleted Greeks getting two early touches thanks to winning the toss. Arsenal quickly take the ball off them thereafter.
Here come the teams. Seems to be a good crowd at the Emirates. In terms of numbers, at least.
Welcome to Arsenal's raison d'etre. In recent years Arsene Wenger has made qualification for the Champions League group stages the standard for success. And that has tended to mean annual engagements with Olympiakos, who usually prove obliging opponents. It's not very exciting but, hey, just look at that Gunners' balance sheet! Having said that, tonight's game should be worth watching (or, indeed, following on a friendly mbm), since Arsenal are still finetuning after another summer of transition and there are a few selection and formation questions that remain to be resolved. We should get clues tonight.
Arsenal: Mannone; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Coquelin; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Podolski
Subs: Shea, Santos, Giroud, Walcott, Ramsey, Djourou, Arshavin
Olympiacos: Megyeri; Diakité, Mancolas, Contrearas, Holebas; Greco, Siovas, Fuster, Maniatis, Machado; Miroglou
Subs: Carroll, Modesto, Ibagaza, Pantelic, Lykogiannis, Diogo, Abdoun
Ref: S Moen (Nor)
Deeply subjective team notes:
- This lark of deploying Gervinho as a false nine can't last. He is a false striker alright, but not in any sense that can bring Arsenal fans enduring joy.
- Ramsey deserves to have been dropped. The Wales captain has generally been frustratingly passive so far this season. Lad needs to be more assertive with his passing and running if he wants to keep a regular place in Arsenal's midfield.
- Wither Giroud, Mertesacker and Diaby all not starting, this is quite a small Arsenal side. Set-piece fun ahoy!
Paul will be here from 7pm. Well, there or thereabouts. Meanwhile, slake your thirst for Arsenal news with Kevin McCarra's match preview:
Arsenal have made a strong start to their Champions League campaign but the club still have vexations and the unavailability of Abou Diaby is a particular cause of annoyance. The midfielder could take no part for France at Euro 2012 and his proneness to injury means that he must be handled with care. A thigh strain will stop him facing Olympiakos at the Emirates in the Champions League.
"It is really frustrating," said the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, of the player's vulnerability and the taxing schedule for Diaby in World Cup qualifiers. "You think you are there but then it happens again. If France want him in Spain they should not take him for Finland and Belarus. The guy has been out for a year and then played four or five games. Give him a breather for two weeks to recover completely even if he is with the squad. It was a mistake to play him with the French national team."
The value of Diaby is all too fresh in Arsenal minds after the defeat by Chelsea at the Emirates. The player had to be substituted and the visitors capitalised. "When he moved out," said Wenger, "[Alex-Oxlade] Chamberlain takes his position and immediately we lost a goal. This was a ball that Diaby would have won easily. And he also gives us power in midfield."