By Tony Attwood
Olympiakos are top of the Greek league. They have played 13 and won 13. Their owner and president is accused of being involved in and directing a criminal organization, aiding and abetting blackmailing, aiding and abetting the creating of explosions, aiding and abetting bribery and fraud. He is currently out on bail of 200,000 euros and has to report to the police station every 15 days.
25 senior football people including club owners and refs are accused of various crimes in Greece, but meanwhile football goes on. Here’s the league table – you may draw your own conclusions.
On June 30, UEFA’s General secretary Gianni Infantino stated that Olympiakos could keep their place in the Champions League for the time being, but how long that time being is, has not been resolved. Infantino’s deputy Theodore Theodoridis is the son of the vice-president of Olympiakos. Olympiakos have won the title in 17 of the past 19 seasons.
A fair match with no question of anything amiss?
Olympiakos apart from having a reputation of being in the mire when it comes to corruption, have a reputation for being able to soak up pressure. So the tactics tonight could be interesting. We saw Arsenal do it in the FA cup away to Man U, defend, defend, defend, score a couple. Thus to counter this we need the counter-counter attack approach. Maybe no one will touch the ball at all. Maybe no one will even kick off.
For years we have been told by the press that Arsène Wenger’s record of being in the second phase for 15 years is of no consequence. Winning is all that matters. Today the Telegraph suggests that it would be a major blow to his position if Arsenal don’t go through. The club would still have the second consecutive longest run in the Champs League in history – second by one year only to Real Madrid. Above Barcelona. Above Bayern. And Wenger’s position will be damaged!
Back to the match. In such circumstances it makes sense to think about leaving Theo on the bench until the hour, in order to let his speed attack an ever defending team when they are a trifle tired. But on the other hand he could be used on the wing to create mayhem. Also given that they never lose they will be a bit surprised to be playing a team that actually hasn’t decided to lie down and die – although of course we don’t know if they have got at the ref.
Meanwhile the Independent paper says, “In a season dominated by an injury list currently growing faster the Greece’s national debt…” and really one might as well give up there. Arsenal are not even top of the injury list (see my last article) so what is the excuse for such gibberish? “Well, it’s Arsenal,” I was told. “We always knock Arsenal”.
I read on. “Failure will send the club hurtling into a Europa League draw alongside the European flotsam and jetsam of Molde, Sion and Krasnodar.” So no bias in the writing there then. “We always knock Arsenal.” How true.
Oympiakos have no injuries at all. Not one. Not a single solitary one. No opposition player ever dares touch them. And how do you explain that? I leave you to imagine what Greek Super League games are like. (A lot of those people now on trial are referees). Here’s our team.
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal;
Campbell, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain;
So any weak spots? Well, maybe the ref. Maybe the Olympiakos goalkeeper will be a bit off, as he seemed to be against Bayern Munich.
Esteban Cambiasso might try and decapitate Mesut Ozil and be sent off in the first minute.
“We plan to fight for this point we need in order to qualify. We have the advantage of playing home where we have the support of our fans,” said the Olympiakos manager.
Arsenal to win 3-0.
Some more anniversaries
- 9 December 2000: Arsenal 5 Newcastle 0; A Parlour hattrick helped Arsenal maintain second place but they were still six points behind the leaders, Man U.
- 9 December 2001: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2. League match 15 of the third Double season. After going four games without a win Arsenal had now won three in a row, three points behind the leaders, Liverpool. Wiltord scored the first and Henry got the other two.
Meanderings from the History Society….
- Arsenal in the 70s part 1: the re-birth of the club. 1969/70
- Arsenal in the 70s part 2: preparing for the impossible. (July to December 1970)
- Arsenal in the 70s part 3: The Golden Treble
- Arsenal in the 70s part 4: What went so right in 1971, and why did it go so wrong?
- Arsenal in the 70s part 5: After the double, double doubts.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 6: The winter of blossoming hope. Nov 71 to Jan 72.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 7: Revival and defeat. Feb 72 to June 72.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 8: The lessons learned and the lessons ignored 1967-73
- Arsenal in the 70s part 9: July to Dec 1972. The time of indiscipline and invasions.