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.
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.
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:
Sagna vermaelen Gallas Clichy
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.
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!
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