by Bulldog Drummond
Mesut Ozil and Lucas Torreira were both missing from the travelling party on Wednesday; Ozil’s wife is due to give birth while the Uruguayan has been struggling with illness.
Again set to start at left-back however is teenage starlet Bukayo Saka.
Arsenal chiefs are hoping to tie him down to a new five-year deal soon.
The England youth international, just 18, has 18 months left on his deal, worth £3,000 a week, and his potential availability has alerted other top-flight clubs.
Alexandre Lacazette, who broke his goalscoring duck against the Magpies, is set to lead the attack.
Arsenal predicted XI from the Daily Mirror
Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka;
Xhaka, Willock, Ceballos;
Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli
The Independent on the other hand gives us
Bellerín, David Luiz, Sokratis, Saka;
Aubameyang, Ceballos, Martinelli;
They add that Alexandre Lacazette will now have his confidence back having scored at the weekend, and they perceive a new unity in the squad. But “the Greek side have a strong home record after beating Red Star, giving Spurs a scare in a 2-2 draw and pushing Bayern in a 3-2 loss. We’ll opt for a 2-2 draw in Athens.”
Interestingly, Saka has been involved in six Europa League goals this season (two goals, four assists), which is more than any other Arsenal player.
Even more surprising is the fact that only three players in the competition have been involved in more goals than Saka this season.
The BBC have focussed on Matteo Guendouzi who didn’t play in the 4-0 win over Newcastle. Their take is that Guendouzi and Arteta had a row in Dubai, but could come back to the squad because of Torreira’s illness. Although Arsenal have said there has been a “significant improvement” in Torreira’s condition and he might still make it.
The BBC also say that Arteta says he will see if his younger players can handle the intimidating atmosphere of the sold-out Karaiskakis Stadium commenting, “You don’t know until you expose them. They can have the best intention but they need to go to a stadium like here and when they make a mistake or a bad decision, have the courage to try again and play again.
“And I want to see that in my players, whether they are 17 or 35. That’s what I expect from them. If they keep trying, they have my full support. If they hide after that, I don’t like it. But what I’ve seen up to now, every time they play on that field they are responding really, really well. That’s what I am hoping and I am sure they will do it tomorrow.”
Here are the past matches between us and them…
|29 Sep 2009||Arsenal v Olympiakos||W||2-0||UEFA Champions League|
|09 Dec 2009||Olympiakos v Arsenal||L||1-0||UEFA Champions League|
|28 Sep 2011||Arsenal v Olympiakos||W||2-1||UEFA Champions League|
|06 Dec 2011||Olympiakos v Arsenal||L||3-1||UEFA Champions League|
|03 Oct 2012||Arsenal v Olympiakos||W||3-1||UEFA Champions League|
|04 Dec 2012||Olympiakos v Arsenal||L||2-1||UEFA Champions League|
|29 Sep 2015||Arsenal v Olympiakos||L||2-3||UEFA Champions League|
|09 Dec 2015||Olympiakos v Arsenal||W||0-3||UEFA Champions League|
But Olympiakos have only won one of their last 11 knockout stage games, drawing four and losing six. Against this Arsenal have gone through from 11 of the last 12 two-legged ties in the UEFA Cup/Europa League. The only failure was in the 2017/18 semi-final.
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