LONDON -- Arsenal booked their passage to the last eight of the Europa League in underwhelming fashion as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Olympiacos on Thursday. Holding a 3-1 lead from the first leg this ought to have been comfortable for Arsenal even though the Gunners had had their warning in the first half when Bernd Leno was called on to save with his feet from Youssef El-Arabi, although it should be noted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe also went close for the hosts in the first half.
Arsenal did nothing to quell Olympiacos' belief and for a time it seemed this tie might go to the wire when El-Arabai's strike deflected off Gabriel and into the net. The Gunners defended their lead in a skittish fashion but their visitors struggled to manufacture further chances as Aubameyang spurned another good opportunity.
Ultimately Ousseynou Ba's red card for dissent in the 83rd minute quelled any momentum for the Greek side, who were unable to stop Arsenal booking their place in the quarterfinals. Here is how the Gunners players rated in the game.
Arsenal player ratings
He saved superbly with his right boot to deny Youssef El-Arabi in 20 minutes, quelling the first real attack of the match from Olympiacos in decisive fashion. Leno could do nothing about the goal that deflected off Gabriel.
Though there were promising moments from both individually there is little sign of a partnership building between Bellerin and Pepe further up the pitch. Unfortunately for him this was a game where nothing quite clicked across the pitch.
Luiz was all too easily brushed off the ball by El-Arabi early in the second half, typifying a game where he lacked the same intensity and assertiveness he had shown against Spurs. Does it take the biggest games to bring out the best Luiz?
It's up for debate whether El Arabi's chance was down to Gabriel dropping too deep - it rather seemed instead that Luiz had switched off and allowed the Olympiacos striker to dart through a gap - as it is whether he should have turned his back for the shot that deflected off him past Leno. Aside from that the Brazilian performed effectively, sweeping up in behind and winning his headers.
Frankly, Tierney looked tired; there were moments in the second half when it looked like he would not make it back in time. When he did he defended effectively for the most part.
Without the ball there was plenty to like from Elneny. By halftime he had recovered possession for Arsenal nine times, three more than anyone else on the pitch. It's just what happened when he had the ball that was a problem. His passing is never more than unambitious. You can see value for him on nights where silly mistakes could change the course of a tie but his limitations are clear.
These games are increasingly few and far between but this evening Xhaka seemed lead-footed, too often caught up the pitch with no ability to get back in time. In the game's latter stages he began to show somewhat more composure but there was still a degree more composure from him than others in red tonight.
There were signs of real energy and aggression to Pepe's pressing whilst his drives inside the full-back looked to be Arsenal's clearest path to a goal. He was one of the few who might feel they enhanced their standing tonight.
Given a chance as the number 10, Ceballos wasted it emphatically. There were moments of quality, not least teeing up Aubameyang in the first half, and he pressed well but too often he was slow in possession and lacked strength off the ball, culminating in Olympiacos picking his pocket for the game's opener.
Emile Smith Rowe
It seemed rather cruel that Smith Rowe's most memorable contribution to this game was to see the ball twice smash into his head, first when his shot deflected up off former teammate Sokratis and then when he inadvertently deflected Pepe's shot over the bar. He pressed and passed well without really stamping himself on the game.
Simply put it was one of those nights for Aubameyang. The captain spurned Arsenal's best chance of the half when he scooped the ball over from near the penalty spot and did the same in the second, clipping over Jose Sa but wide of the far post. That he is getting in these positions is encouraging but he should have scored at least once.
Thomas Partey (sub, Elneny, 57')
Hardly brought the composure his manager would have demanded after his introduction, twice trying to run through the Olympiacos press when under pressure although eventually he calmed down.
Martin Odegaard (sub, Ceballos, 57')
Odegaard offered quality on the ball just when Arsenal needed it. Unlike others he seemed to play the reality of the game, not the pressure that was building. If he had to go backward to keep possession for his team that is what he did.
Manager - Mikel Arteta
There are questions to be answered as to why his team continually fails to keep its cool when the pressure is on and where their game intelligence is, even if for the most part he made the right substitutes at the right time.