Olympiakos were right to feel hard done by in their Europa league first leg against Arsenal. The weather was as poor as the actual game and the gunners were worse in their finishing. They were saved by some kitchen sink defending and it’s fair to say that a 1-0 away win must have left Mikel Arteta appreciative of a slender advantage rather than the slim pickings he had to digest as entertainment. However, tonight’s Arsenal vs Olympiakos game won’t be the same and the gunners need to put in a spirited performance to keep their Europa League hopes alive.
Since that game, Arsenal have shown more team spirit than we saw under Unai Emery and at Everton, the goals finally came. They were once again defensively naive and sometimes desperate but they came through and perhaps, if Arsenal are to continue on their European road trip, the Spanish coach will need more of the same.
The side will no doubt be fairly strong with few surprises and it’s just a toss up between Aubameyang, Lacazette or Martinelli. No room for Nketiah on this occasion because Arsenal need to turn the screws on their opponents.
The defence almost picks itself with Mustafi and Luiz enjoying a good spell of form, Saka and Bellerin should also feature, which only leaves the question as to who will partner Xhaka in the defensive midfield role. I expect Torreira to put in a shift, because with the delicate nature of the Arsenal vs Olympiakos tie, Arteta may want extra protection.
Arsenal can’t afford to sit back, they need to extend their advantage even though Olympiakos have only managed to navigate through the knockout phase once in 12 attempts. They are still the Greek champions and are unbeaten, so it’s not a foregone conclusion, Arsenal need to concentrate and make it happen.
Fortune favours the gunners in the Arsenal vs Olympiakos, who have won 3 out of 4 home fixtures against the Greek outfit but they surprisingly lost 3-2 in 2015/16 in a Champions league group match.
The main threat to the Arsenal goal is likely to come from Youssef El Arabi (if available) with 17 goals to his name, he will punish any mistakes and if Arsenal are as cavalier at the back as they were against Everton, the unbeaten Greek super league leaders may make it an awkward evening.
Preferred Side Against Olympiakos :-
Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka; Torreira. Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Score:- 2-1 Arsenal win.
Key Men:- Pepe/Saka