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Arsenal v Olympiacos: the preview

Arsenal play host to Olympiacos, the Greek champions, on Tuesday evening.

The Greek outfit, who played out a 1-0 victory over the final member of Group H AZ Alkmaar, are managed by Brazilian legend Zico, who has been in the post since mid-September after spells managing in Turkey and Russia.

The previous manager was removed from the position after a handful of games in charge, but judging from their league form, they’re hardly lurching from crisis to crisis.

Recent form:

Arsenal go into the game off a backs-to-the-wall victory over London rivals Fulham, where a slightly off-colour Arsenal eleven came away with a victory largely thanks to an impressive rearguard performance from Reserve goalkeeper Vito Mannone and centrebacks Gallas and Vermaelen.

Three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, as well as five wins on the trot, give the Gunners reason to feel confident in the run up to this tie.

Olympiacos head to London full of confidence after a 2-1 away win over rivals AEK Athens. The Greek side lead the Super League by a single point, having started their campaign with four wins and a draw. Crucially for Gunners fans, they’ve taken maximum from their away games this season, including the tricky tie vs. AEK Athens.

Injuries:

Arsenal fans will definitely see Mannone between the sticks after his excellent performance at Craven Cottage, with Wenger ruling Almunia out in the post-Fulham press conference.

Walcott, according to the Sun (I know!) has declared himself fit to start the Olympiacos game, but we are more likely to see him feature from the bench. Long term absentees Fabianksi, Djourou and Nasri are all out as per, joined by Denilson.

Men to watch:

Robin van Persie, simply because of Eduardo’s injury meaning he’s got a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Bendtner can come central and perform if needed, but as it stands Robin is our main central striker. After his goal at Fulham, let’s hope he goes and finds the net on Tuesday

Arsenal fans should be familiar with former Blackburn player Matt Derbyshire who signed for the Greek side in January, initially on loan. As it stands, it is unclear if the striker, who had an incredible impact on the Greek cup final from the substitute’s bench, will be available for the game.

Arsenal predicted lineup:

Mannone

Sagna vermaelen Gallas Clichy

Song

Fabregas Rosicky

Bendtner Van Persie Arshavin

Subs: Szczesny, Silvestre, Gibbs, Eboue, Diaby, Ramsey, Vela

Almost the same team as at Craven Cottage, though there is likely to be some rotation given the proximity of the two games.

Rosicky should come in for Diaby to help us keep the ball and to improve our build-up play. I’d hope to see Vela get some minutes, with the extent of Eduardo’s injury unknown at the moment it’s important he’s primed to come in if need be.

Good strong bench: Eboue to come on to close the game out if need be, perhaps Ramsey for Fabregas/Rosicky if we’re leading with twenty minutes to go for his work rate.

Prediction:

Olympiacos are a much more intimidating prospect at home, so if we play like we can we should be capable of putting a couple past them.

I can’t see the defence suffering from overconfidence after Fulham, Wenger will almost certainly have kept them grounded, but perhaps expect the Greek’s to sneak one past Mannone given the lack of rest we’ve had since the last match. I’m going to go for a reasonably comfortable 3-1 to the Arsenal.

As ever, comments below!

Phil Gregory

16 comments to Arsenal v Olympiacos: the preview

  • Sod’s law is the moment Phil or I write a piece about the team for a forthcoming game, some bit of news breaks.

    As pointed out in correspondence a short while back, Bendtner was in a “single vehicle collision” (that’s the police’s words not mine) on monday morning and won’t play. Wenger says he will be ok by saturday.

    Eduardo is a mystery – is he injured, or was he just totally rested on saturday?

    Tony

  • reality check

    bendtner out of champions league clash cz of a car crash. i think wenger will use this as an excuse to drop him from the squad for a few games same as almunia. bendtner need to score other wise he’ll find himself warming the bench for the most part of the season as he is in competition with players like eduardo,tomas and walcot

  • OK, found a smidge of news on Arsenal’s site

    “Eduardo will be back in the squad for Olympiacos, but Walcott will not. He is available but he’s short of competitive action at the moment – he needs a game, and we’ll organise one for him. He should be back to normal again from Sunday onwards.”

    So this probably gives us the team as above but with a forward threesome of

    Eduardo Van Persie Arshavin

    with Vela coming on to replace whoever looks tired out of those three.

    Tony

  • Marc

    Denilsonout for 2 months. Looks like the Arsenal injury curse is showing no signs of getting bored.

  • JohnW

    We will see Edouardo replace Bendtner, then Rosicky on the left. Expect a lot of goals because Arsenal will play with three playmakers in RVP, Arshavin and Rosicky, so plenty of chances. We will win 3-0

  • walter

    The injuries don’t stop it seems. Denilson out for 2 months, it will be almost 4 in realty I guess. Bendtner crashed his Aston Martin…. and will not play.
    The good news is that Eduardo is fit and I think AW gave him an extra rest because we still have to be carefull with him. I really think it will take another few months before he is really fit. Just like Rosicky.
    Hope Arshavin is better then saturday but he admitted he didn’t play at his best so that alone is refreshing from a player this honesty and his knowing that he was not at his best.

    But then again we should be able to field a squad that can beat them.

  • LRV

    Bendtner is very juvenile to get himself involved in a very unnecessary accident. If it is his fault, he must be punished with no pay for a week. I am being harsh, aren’t I? Well, I am just tired of injuries left, right and centre. The Denilson injury is very extremely inconvinient at this time.

    Between Eduardo, Ashavin & Van Persie, we should be able to conjure up goals.

  • lordgunner

    another excuse to see diaby on the pitch 🙁 loosing denilson is a big blow .we have only song as first team DM now with coquelin as back up.the line up gone look like
    don vito
    sagna vermy gallas clichy
    song
    cesc rosicky(or diaby) 🙁 )
    eboue V persie eduardo
    olympiakos is good at home but away they ve always struggling so i go 3-0 for the gunner (eboue got a hat trick 😛 what!!!we can always dream)

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I have to agree with Lordgunner,Diaby has been poor in all departments-
    Eboue will be a better choice ,at least he inspires by his boundless energy.Diaby seems to be chillin’ out during games,not tracking back and poorly positioned during set plays.Although he is skillful he holds on to the ball longer than he should .

  • Armin Medic

    Its not secret, Greeks will play 10 players behind ball, and coming closer than 20 meters from their goal will be reprisal of WWI battles in Verdun.
    I tend to know a bit about Greek football, so I expect all except easy victory, away they play rough, muscular, always on edge of yellow card, without hesitating to play dirty if necessary. Even after we score, they still wont open game, and wont try to equalize, they will in a fact close even more and try to preserve defeat smaller as possible.
    I see this game as opportunity for Arshavin or Rosicky, who don’t hesitate to try luck from greater distances…

  • Paul

    True, Diaby has been out of sorts, but he’s who found the break through to set up our opening goal in our comeback against Leige. He’s frustrating but as long as Wenger’s got faith in him, let him play.

  • Ibrahim

    Kudos:prof wenger!
    i have got a problem.diaby and bentdner are my problem.diaby my number1 problem,pls,prof should critically analyse diaby series of flobs,may be atleast he will see reasons with me.

  • JediKnut

    Walcott will probably not appear on the bench for this match.

    According to the Young Guns website:
    “Theo Walcott is expected to play for an Arsenal Reserves XI tomorrow night as they take on Olympiacos’ second string side at London Colney.”

    “He will join an XI selected by Neil Banfield for a friendly against a similar aged Olympiacos team. The ‘Erythrolefki’ have a close relationship with the Gunners’ Academy and have decided to take advantage of the fixture overlap to bring a second team to London to do battle on two fronts.”

  • walter

    I really hope that Walcott gets a good game and is back real soon. I we could only ad his pace to our team I think we really are unstoppable.

  • Phil Gregory

    reality Check: Wenger isn’t going to take any excuse to drop Bendtner, who has been one of our more impressive performers this season. A few assists, the odd goal and great hold up play. Not bad for a striker playing out wide! Eduardo and RvP aren’t like for like replacements for Bendtner – Nik offfers something different, that route one aerial option. The number of knockdowns he wins for Robin is key in our counter attacking game and general approach play.

    Armin: we’re fully expecting a defensive performance, they’re away form is poor at best. With individuals like Cesc, Arshavin and Rosicky we should be able to break down even the most solid defensive performance.

  • zerojude njoku

    i must ba frank with u i don’t understand what DIABY is playing. also i don’t know why wenger always put him in his first eleven(11)