Well, this is it. 90 minutes of match time and while there...
Arsenal v Olympiacos; Champion’s League Match Preview
It’s the match I gather few people care about at this point, but it’s a match nonetheless. With their 13th consecutive trip to the knockout stages secured, this bumper match with Olympiacos is a mere formality.
The most noticeable part of this match up will be solely on those players who are not travelling with the club. Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud are all comfortably in London resting their wear legs.
Interesting that Captain Thomas Vermaelen and Gervinho made the trip. However, word is that Wenger placed the blame for Saturday on them and Carl Jenkinson – so their travelling with the team looks to be some sort of punishment maybe? Any way, it’s a chance to see some players who haven’t featured regularly for the club.
Of particular interest to me is the possibility that Jernade Meade a highly promising youngster will get the nod to start as the left back. Also, Andrei Arshavin looks to feature as his time at Arsenal comes to a close. If there was ever a case to come out and make your manager think twice about you- it was tonight for Andrei.
The lack of many of the stars is a chance for the fringe players to try and shine. Given the form of many of those first teamers maybe, just maybe it is possible for a few of these players to make a case that they should be given more consideration in league matches.
The match seems meaningless and the lackof interest is both indiciative of the current frame of mind and the fact is that the outcome is only mildly of interest. If Arsenal do win at Olympiacos and Schalke lose or draw, Arsenal can finish on top of the group. Finish second, well it opens the likelihood of a date with some of the powerhouses of the tournament right now.
That’s a pretty poor statement to make isn’t it. It used to be that Arsenal were considered a powerhouse of this tournament. However, much like our league form we are one of those middle of the pack teams. On our day we might win, but more than not, we are likely to have difficulties and end up on the negative side.
The team and the fan base need something, anything to hold on to. Even a reserve team win in Greece might be just what we need.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Andrei Arshavin. The Russian is likely on his way out. However, he may yet be able show a glimpse of why he was signed those years ago. With most of the senior players at home, this is his game to shine.
Olympiacos: Roy Carroll. He was the goal keeper in between the sticks for Manchester United when they ended the Invincible run.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Meade, Ramsey, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Gervinho, Arshavin
Olympiacos: Carroll; Torossidis, Manolas, Siovas, Holebas; Maniatis, Modesto, Ibagaza; Fuster, Mitroglou, Abdoun.
Arsenal Injuries and Suspensions:
Arteta (ankle – late fitness test), Diaby (thigh), Szczesny (ankle), Fabianski (shoulder), Sagna (match fitness), Wilshere (match fitness), Rosicky (shin)
Leading Scorers (UCL):
Arsenal: Podolski 3
Olympiacos: Mitroglu 3
Domestic Form (last 5)
Head to Head Tournament Stats:
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Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)
Assistant referees: Roberto Díaz Pérez del Palomar (ESP), Jesús Calvo Guadamuro (ESP)
Additional assistant referees: Fernando Teixeira (ESP), Javier Estrada Fernandez (ESP)
Fourth official: Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (ESP
US: Fox Soccer Channel 7:00 PM EST (rebroadcast)/Fox Soccer.TV 2:45 PM
UK: ITV1 1945 GMT
From the Managers:
This game comes at a good time. We have less pressure, as we are already through to the last 16 and we want to finish well and top of our group. It also gives us the opportunity to see players who have had less time on the pitch.
The only pressure I feel right now is the one I always feel: to win the next game, for the team to play the football I love. The rest doesn’t affect me at all.
I will tell my players not to be surprised by the commitment of Olympiacos. They are a historic club with huge pride. The match against us is their opportunity to show their quality. They have had a good campaign and I believe they were unlucky against us in London and against Schalke a fortnight ago. They came close to qualifying.
Our first goal is to win and get in the pool of strong teams in the Europa League. The mere fact that we are playing a Champions League match is incentive enough.
I don’t want to compare our team with last season’s squad as the players have changed, but we would like to repeat last year’s result against Arsenal. I’m happy that we are creating scoring opportunities and we must continue doing that. Eventually we will become more effective at converting them. I would be more concerned if we weren’t creating opportunities.
The Europa League has a lot of strong teams, including the ones that didn’t make it into the Champions League knockout phase. We want to get through the next two rounds of the Europa League and compete with the teams that are favourites to win the trophy.
- Arsène Wenger takes charge of his 150th UEFA Champions League fixture on matchday six.
- In the 2-2 draw at FC Schalke 04 on matchday four, Arsenal surrendered a two-goal lead in the UEFA Champions League for only the second time.
- The 2-0 loss to Schalke on matchday three was Arsenal’s first in the group stage at home since September 2003
- In their 14th UEFA Champions League campaign, Olympiacos have failed to match their feats of both 2009/10 and
- 2007/08 when they reached the round of 16.
- Arsenal, involved in the group stage for the 15th campaign in a row, have qualified for the last 16 for the 13th timein succession and are now aiming for a ninth group victory in that time. In 2011/12 Wenger’s side departed in the round of 16 for the second season running.
- The matchday one win at Montpellier was only Arsenal’s third in their last 14 away matches in the competition proper, a run that includes eight defeats