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UEFA Champions League

  • 28 September 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
  • • Attendance: 59676
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Arsenal - Olympiakos Preview: Arsene Wenger's side look to continue upturn in form against Greek team

The Gunners look to have shaken off their poor start to the Premier League season and will host a team who are notoriously poor travellers in European competition


PROBABLE LINEUPS

ARSENAL

Szczesny
Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
Arteta, Ramsey, Song
Arshavin, Van Persie, Gervinho

OLYMPIAKOS

Costanzo
Torosidis, Mellberg, Papadopolous, Holebas Abdoun, Fejsa, Fuster, Modesto, Yeste
Mirallas

Arsenal’s well-documented nightmare start to the season seems to have settled down after back-to-back victories over Shrewsbury and Bolton.

Kieran Gibbs scored his first goal for the Gunners against Shrewsbury and may well be picked over fellow left-back Andre Santos, who hasn’t enjoyed the quickest of starts.

It has been reported that Theo Walcott has been ruled out with a knee problem, and Andrey Arshavin is likely to come in if that is the case.

Olympiakos favoured a 4-5-1 formation in their first Champions League tie of the season and given the pedigree of their opponents and the location of the game, it is likely they will do the same again.

Striker Kevin Mirallas is the only forward to start each of the Greek side’s three games so far this season and so is most likely to lead the line.

Defender Olof Mellberg will be familiar to Premier League fans having spent seven years of his career at Aston Villa.

DID YOU KNOW?
  • These two sides met in the group stage of the Champions League in 2009, each winning their home tie.
  • Neither of these clubs has ever lifted the Champions League in its new or old format. Arsenal were beaten finalists in 2006 and Olympiakos furthest progression was to the quarter-finals.
  • Olympiakos have never gained a single point playing in England and have scored only one goal.
  • That goal was scored by Brazilian Rivaldo at Anfield in 2004/05 but sparked the comeback which eventually led to a famous Liverpool victory in the competition.
  • Arsene Wenger (right) celebrates 15 years as the Gunners’ manager this week. His counterpart Ernesto Valverde has been at Olympiakos just over a year.
  • Both managers have suffered the dubious honour of finishing runner-up in a European final. Wenger in the 2006 Champions League final and Valverde in the 2007 Uefa Cup final with Espanyol.
  • Arsenal captain Robin van Persie’s second goal against Bolton was his 100th for the club.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Wojciech SzczesnyGoalkeeper
3Bacary SagnaDefender
4Per MertesackerDefender
27Andre SantosDefender
7Tomas RosickyMidfielder
8Mikel ArtetaMidfielder
17Alex SongMidfielder
35Emmanuel FrimpongMidfielder
10Andrey ArshavinMidfielder
15Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainStriker
29Marouane ChamakhStriker
21Lukasz FabianskiGoalkeeper
25Carl Jenkinson Defender
28Kieran GibbsDefender
16Aaron RamseyMidfielder
35Francis CoquelinMidfielder
10Chu-Young ParkStriker
20Robin van PersieStriker
-Franco CostanzoGoalkeeper
-Olof MellbergDefender
20Jose HolebasDefender
25MarcanoDefender
35Vasilis TorosidisDefender
7Ariel Miguel IbagazaMidfielder
5Ljubomir FejsaMidfielder
19David FusterMidfielder
-OrbaizMidfielder
-Rafik Zoheir DjebbourStriker
11Kevin MirallasStriker
42Balasz MegyeriGoalkeeper
-François ModestoDefender
21Avraam PapadopoulosDefender
92Giannis PotouridisDefender
17Jean II MakounMidfielder
22Djamel AbdounMidfielder
9Marko PantelicStriker
Players to Watch
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 20
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
After bagging his 100th goal, the new captain will hope to continue his form and skipper his side to another Champions League victory.

His biggest aim this season will be to avoid injuries as there is no doubt that when on a run of games such as he is enjoying currently, he is one of the world’s deadliest forwards.
Olof Mellberg
Olof Mellberg
Position: Defender
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Swedish centre-half has plenty of experience of playing against Premier League sides and will have to produce a heroic performance to gain even a point for his side.

He will have to use all of his nous gained over a long career to prevent Arsenal’s free-flowing attacking triumvirate from getting behind the Olympiakos defence.
Prediction
Given Arsenal’s improving form and Olympiakos’ appalling European away record, it would seem there is only one way for this tie to go.

Van Persie should continue to provide the goals given the impressive service of Gervinho and Walcott and the defensive solidarity supplied by a returning Song should provide enough cover.

It would be a small miracle for the Greek side to pull off a victory here but given the experience in their defence, a draw might not be unthinkable.

That said, all things remaining equal, Arsenal should have too much on the night.
Editor's Prediction

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