Arsenal v Olympiacos: Champions League Preview
Arsenal take on Olympiacos in Matchday 2 of the Champions League at the Emirates Stadium tonight.
Both sides were beaten in Matchday 1. The Gunners were beaten 2-1 away to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia in their opening Group F Champions League fixture two weeks ago.
Whilst Olympiacos were beaten 3-0 at home by Group F favourites Bayern Munich.
Arsenal got back to winning ways in the Premier League with a 5-2 victory over Leicester City on Saturday, following the 2-1 midweek win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup.
Olympiacos have made a perfect start in Greek championship winning all five of their matches so far. The latest victory was a 5-1 home victory over PAS Giannina at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on Saturday.
The clubs are in the same group for the fourth time in seven seasons, having also been drawn together in 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2012/13. Each of the six preceding games has been won by the home team.
In 2012/13, the Gunners won 3-1 London. Gervinho gave the home side the lead just before the interval, with Kostas Mitroglou equalising in added time. Second-half goals from Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey secured the points.
The lineups in north London on 3 October 2012 were:
Arsenal: Mannone, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott 71), Coquelin, Arteta, Podolski (Ramsey 80), Gervinho (Giroud 80), Santi Cazorla.
Olympiacos: Megyeri, Diakité (Ibagaza 73), Manolas, Contreras, Holebas, David Fuster, Maniatis, Siovas, Greco (Abdoun 67), Paulo Machado (Pantelić 81), Mitroglou.
Arsène Wenger’s men prevailed 2-1 at home in 2011/12, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring on his UEFA Champions League debut, and 2-0 in 2009/10.
Arsenal will be without the suspended Olivier Giroud after he was sent off in the loss to Dinamo Zagreb.
Arsene Wenger is likely to start David Ospina in-goal rather Petr Cech.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting in place of Aaron Ramsey in midfield.
Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs could the start at full back in place of Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.
Olympiakos, meanwhile, will not be able to call on the services of Luka Milivojevis, who will serve the second of his two-game ban after he was sent off in Olympiacos’s Europa League round of 32 tie against Dnipro last season.
But coach Marco Silva will be hoping that he can recall Alejandro Dominguez to his line-up after he suffered a thigh strain against Bayern.
Asked about the importance of tonight’s match following Arsenal’s defeat in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb, Wenger said.
“Yes, you sum it up well. You have to win your home games if you want to qualify from the group stage, it is simple as that.
“We have an opponent… we cannot afford to drop points now against anyone at home.”
“We are prepared to get the best result we can. We know it will be a difficult game, how big a team Arsenal are and respect them, but we believe in our own strengths and are ready for a strong game,’ said the former Sporting Lisbon coach, who took charge in Athens over the summer.
If you asked people who would be the first two in the group, people would say it is Bayern and Arsenal, but football is not like this – there are no rules to say the favourites must win all of the games,’ said Silva.
‘We did not manage to win against Bayern, and yes the Dinamo win over Arsenal has made it more difficult for us, but we have our own ambitions and there are no limits to them. You have to go for it and we hope that we can change the situation in the group.’
Alexis Sanchez scored his first goals of the season in the Gunners 5-2 win at Leicester City on Saturday and will now want to go a run of goalscoring.
Kostas Fortounis scored twice in Olympiacos’s 5-1 win in the Greek championship at the weekend and like Sanchez will want to continue in a similar vein tonight.
Arsenal have won all three of the previous home Champions League matches with Olympiacos. Expect that run to continue tonight with a 3-1 victory.