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Mellberg cool under young Gunners' fire

Published: Thursday 10 December 2009, 17.06CET
Olof Mellberg was glad Olympiacos FC managed "to be patient and not get frustrated" after a single goal in Piraeus was enough to subdue a youthful Arsenal FC and reach the first knockout round.
by Graham Wood
from Athens
Mellberg cool under young Gunners' fire
Olof Mellberg (right) challenges Arsenal's Fran Mérida ©Getty Images

Match statistics

OlympiacosArsenal

Goals scored1
 
0
Attempts on target5
 
4
Attempts off target7
 
5
Corners4
 
5
Offsides2
 
1
Fouls committed14
 
16
Yellow cards1
 
1
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

Last updated: 03/10/2013 16:21 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Thursday 10 December 2009, 17.06CET

Mellberg cool under young Gunners' fire

Olof Mellberg was glad Olympiacos FC managed "to be patient and not get frustrated" after a single goal in Piraeus was enough to subdue a youthful Arsenal FC and reach the first knockout round.

Defender Olof Mellberg said patience was the key for Olympiacos FC after they overcame the challenge of a youthful Arsenal FC team to join the Gunners in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round.

Big win
Leonardo's second-half strike proved enough for Zico's men to claim victory at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, on a night when Arsène Wenger fielded a starting XI of average age just 21. Mellberg, on one of his busier shifts in the red and white of the Piraeus club, contributed to keeping out the likes of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Carlos Vela as Olympiacos finished runners-up in Group H.

Limited chances
"It feels good to qualify," the Swedish international told uefa.com. "It was a young, quick and very technically gifted Arsenal team and we had to be very good defensively. We managed to create a couple of chances and score from one of them, so it is definitely a big win for us. The important thing in a match like this was to be patient and not get frustrated, and I think we did that. We did struggle a bit without the ball at times, but the important thing was that we limited them to a few opportunities."

'Nothing to lose'
Arsenal began brightly and had the hosts chasing shadows at times as they moved the ball around confidently, with Vela, Wilshere and Walcott causing the Greek titleholders no end of headaches. "The pace of the game in the Premier League is probably the quickest in the world," continued Mellberg. "It was also difficult because we were playing against a team with nothing to lose. They had a lot of youngsters in their lineup who don't play many games, and they are hungry, they run a lot and are very skilful."

Home strength
By the final whistle, however, Olympiacos had won all three home matches in the group stage and, backed by their vociferous supporters, they are a tough prospect for any opponent. Traditionally, though, they struggle away from Greece and Mellberg knows an improvement will be needed to safeguard their future among Europe's élite. "Our home form is good but the away games are also important," the 32-year-old said. "To do well in this competition from now on, you have to do well over two games. Obviously we have to work on picking something up away from home while continuing to be strong here in Athens."

'Great experience'

Walcott, meanwhile, was not too disappointed by the outcome on the night, preferring to focus on the value of giving Arsenal's next generation a run-out. "There are good signs," said the 20-year-old England attacker. "It's a great experience for the younger players to come in and play at this level. It's a good test for them to see what they can do in these games. I'm pleased for the whole team because we gave a good account of ourselves. The more matches we play at this level obviously the better we'll get."

Last updated: 10/12/09 18.10CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000028/match=2000450/postmatch/quotes/index.html#mellberg+cool+under+young+gunners+fire

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