Europa progress only positive for Arsenal amid Aubameyang frustration


n Sunday, against Tottenham, it was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was late. This time, against Olympiacos, it felt like the whole Arsenal team didn’t turn up for nearly an hour.

In the end, they progressed through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League – but my word they made hard work of it.

Youssef El-Arabi scored the only goal of the game – his third in a row against Arsenal – and in the end the Gunners were grateful for their 3-1 cushion from the first leg in Athens.

This should have been a straight-forward night for Arsenal, but as we have seen in the past they struggled to manage the tie.

The first-half was a passive affair, sometimes played at walking pace, and the only moments of note were a chance for either side. El-Arabi’s was brilliant saved by Bernd Leno, while Aubameyang spooned his over the bar.

That, in many ways, summed up Aubameyang’s night. He would have had visions of being the hero after being dropped for Sunday’s north London derby, but in the end he was left frustrated.

The Arsenal captain missed a great chance in the second-half, dinking it wide, and late on he was frustrated too as Olympiacos goalkeeper Jose Sa made himself big to deny him.

Aubameyang was not alone in having an off-night, though, and in truth the whole Arsenal side weren’t at the races.

Their poor first-half carried over into the second and Olympiacos deserved to take the lead after 51 minutes.

After that, they pushed for the two goals they needed and the game became frantic and stretched.

You suspect that was the last thing Mikel Arteta wanted and the only positive that can be taken from this disappointing defeat is that Arsenal are still in the Europa League – and have a chance to learn from their lessons.

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