The Gunners finally got their season properly underway after a convincing 3-nil win at home against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and a Carling Cup win last week. They will be looking to continue their winning ways against Greek side Olympiakos Thrylos on Wednesday, in their second match of the Champions League group stage. The Gunners are currently tied for second place with Dortmund after their 1-1 draw in Germany two weeks ago, while Olympiakos are last after their 1-nil loss to Marseille.
With a much needed clean sheet win against Bolton over the weekend, the Gunners have to continue their unbeaten run in the Champions League this season and are big favourites to win this round. With Walcott and Gervinho deemed unfit, it seems likely that Arshavin and Rosicky will occupy the wings with captain Robin Van Persie spearheading the attack. Arsenal’s defence has been weak at times, however a convincing display against Dortmund two weeks ago, and a decent performance against Bolton should provide Gunners fans with some comfort that their abysmal start to the season is behind them.
Although Olympiakos are coming off a Greek Super League title, the Greek Leagues generally lower level of competition and the later start will not have helped their chances in these earlier Champions League matches. Luckily for Arsenal, Olympiakos are deemed to be the weakest of their group, and if the Gunners can provide a solid defensive performance then they shouldn’t have much trouble disposing of their Greek opponents, however it’s difficult to predict a high scoring win after Arsenal’s inability to kill off a game this season. Olympiakos have never actually gained a single point playing in England and have scored only one goal, so it is highly unlikely that there will be an upset.
Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 0
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(Champions League in red)
On latest team news:
Koscielny is not fit. He has an ankle problem which is a consequence of the tackle by [Bolton’s] Nigel Reo Coker, which was a fair tackle but a bit late. Gervinho is not fit, he has a minor muscular problem that is very, very mild. Walcott is not fit, he has a minor knee problem. He got a kick, but there is no damage in the knee.
on whether they could face Tottenham:
All three have a chance for the weekend. I would say Theo has a more than 50-50 chance.
on Jack Wilshere being fit for the Euros:
Yes, I don’t have any worries for that. He will be 12 weeks in a boot and after that it is rehab. That 12 weeks brings us to around Christmas. If all goes well, you would think he will be fit again to play in half the time you are in the boot – six weeks. Count 10 to be closer to the truth, so it’s 22 weeks to be capable to play football again.
On the match ahead:
‘We are a train that started a bit late in the station, so we cannot afford to drop our consistency. You never win easy in the Champions League – when you give absolutely everything, you have a chance to win. If you do not prepare properly, then you have no chance. After 14 consecutive years in the Champions League, if we have not learned that, then we are really stupid.
Arsenal – Robin Van Persie – The dangerous Dutchman netted his 99th and 100th goals for Arsenal on Saturday and will spearhead Arsenal’s attack once more at the Emirates. He is finding his form once again, and will be a handful for Olympiackos.
Olympiakos – Kevin Mirallas – The Belgian is the catalyst of Olympiakos’ offence. Mirallas scored a respectable 14 goals last season and will threaten the Arsenal defence that has come under fire in recent weeks.
Sagna Song Mertesacker Santos
Arshavin Van Persie (c) Rosicky
With Gervinho, Walcott and Koscielny deemed unfit to play, there will be a much changed side that played against Bolton, with Frimpong, Rosicky and Arshavin likely to return to the lineup. Djourou is believed to still not have recovered from his hamstring injury, so Song will probably go back to centreback with Frimpong coming in to fill his void.
Santos could get his second start in Arsenal colours with Wenger likely to want to rest Gibbs ahead of the crucial derby with Spurs looming this weekend.
more to follow on matchday…