Robin van Persie highlights ‘bad sign’ for Arsenal despite win over Olympiakos

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Robin van Persie says it was a “bad sign” goalkeeper Bernd Leno was Arsenal’s best player during the clash with Olympiakos on Thursday. Arsenal beat Olympiakos 1-0 in Greece in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie. Striker Alexandre Lacazette came up with the vital away goal with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Olympiakos had their fair share of chances though, especially in the first half in Athens.

Leno was forced into a number of good saves to deny Pedro Martins’ side.

And Van Persie says that was a negative on an otherwise successful night for his old club.

The Dutchman said on BT Sport: “Well tonight I think in the first 80 minutes the goalkeeper was their best player, which is always a bad sign. Leno was making a lot of good saves.

“I think at that point Arsenal would have [settled] for the 0-0, knowing that Olympiakos and teams like that are less good away from home.

“But the last 15 minutes suddenly Arsenal came alive and the goal they scored was a beautiful goal, a beautiful goal.”

Arsenal easily could have added more goals late on, with Lacazette coming close again and Sokratis hitting the bar with a header.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown says substitutions from head coach Mikel Arteta were key to Arsenal finishing the game strongly.

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Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe were introduced in place of Gabriel Martinelli and Joe Willock.

Keown says a slight change in formation helped and said Ceballos was key when he came on.

“[The substitutions] certainly did [change the game],” Keown said.

“I think Arteta what he’s learnt, apart from the United game, he hasn’t seen a complete 90 minutes from Arsenal.

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“The last 15-20 minutes when he made that change, Aubameyang going out to the left with Pepe on the right.

“We know [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang is not that great on the right but on the left he’s much better.

“I thought they couldn’t control midfield until Ceballos came in and Guendouzi went to sit deep.

“They changed the shape, were much more creative and they got the goal, they then deserved and could have maybe have got another one.

“It was a good professional performance tonight and Arteta will be pleased certainly with the last 20 minutes.”

Olympiakos will visit the Emirates next Thursday looking to overturn the 1-0 deficit.

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