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UEFA Champions League

  • 6 December 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki, Pireás (Piraeus)
  • Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
  • • Attendance: 30816

Olympiakos - Arsenal Preview: Greek giants gunning for victory to join Arsene Wenger's side in knockout phase

With the Gunners safely through to the second round, their manager is likely to rest a host of key players, whilst the Piraeus need a win and a favour from Borussia Dortmund



Maniatis, Mellberg, Papadopoulos, Torosidis Potouridis, Holebas, Orbaiz, Abdoun
Pantelic, Djebbour


Djourou, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Santos
 Coquelin, Frimpong, Benayoun
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh, Arshavin

Olympiakos are without Argentine playmaker Ariel Ibagaza for the crucial clash. The former Real Mallorca man has wrestled with a thigh injury since early November, and will sit out the match on Tuesday night along with Ljubomir Fejsa and David Fuster.

Although they opted for a 4-5-1 system for the surprise win over Marseille last time out, Olympiakos are expected to go 4-4-2 for the visit of Arsenal, with Rafik Zoheir Djebbour and Marko Pantelic likely to lead the line. Both players netted in the weekend victory over Panaitolikos, and the Greek side will be looking to them to carry the team through to the knockout phase of the competition.

Arsene Wenger, with his side already confirmed as group winners, will look to give some much-needed game-time to a selection of fringe players.

Francis Coquelin is likely to anchor the midfield in place of Alex Song, while Marouane Chamakh is expected to replace goal machine Robin van Persie as Arsenal’s target man, who is rested for the tie, along with Theo Walcott, Gervinho, Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny.

One or two Gunners are hoping to get a run-out as they recover from injury. Tomas Rosicky could be set for a return after picking up a thigh injury against West Brom, however Abou Diaby has failed to make the squad.

  • Olympiakos have won only three of nine matches at home to English opposition – including against Liverpool in 2004/2005 Champions League, and in a Uefa Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur in 1972.
  • The Greek side are bidding to reach the knockout phase for the third time in three successive Champions League campaigns, although they need a favour from Borussia Dortmund, who play Marseille, if they are to climb above the French team into second place.
  • Ernesto Valverde’s men have suffered only one loss in the league all season – a 2-0 defeat against Asteras Tripolis in late November.
  • They have also enjoyed formidable home form this season: a 2-2 draw with OFI Crete ended a run of 17 consecutive victories on home turf.
  • Arsenal have won in only two of their last six visits to Greece – both of those came against Panathinaikos.
  • Whilst their opponents’ fate hangs in the balance, Arsenal have already confirmed progression to the next round as group winners. It’s the eighth time in the last 12 seasons they have qualified at the top of their group table.
  • The Gunners have won 11 of their last 13 matches, including a 4-0 demolition of Wigan at the weekend.
  • Robin van Persie netted his 22 goal in 24 matches for club and country, taking his tally for 2011 to 32 goals in 31 Premier League outings.
  • Arsenal won the reverse fixture 2-1 on September 28, with Alex Oxlade-Chaberlain netting a goal on his Champions League debut at Emirates Stadium.
  • The last time the two sides met was back in the group stages in 2009, when Olympiakos secured a 1-0 win courtesy of a second-half goal from Leonardo.
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Players to watch

R. Djebbour

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Djebbour has netted seven times in his last nine appearances for Olympiakos, including in their weekend win over Panatolaikos. With the Piraeus needing nothing but a victory to stand a chance of joining Arsenal in the knockout round, the Algerian could be crucial to unlocking a sometimes-shaky Arsenal rearguard, particularly if Wenger chooses to rest any first-team regulars.

Djebbour has an impressive combination of speed and strength, which could be enough to unsettle the heart of the Gunners’ defence. He could be made to work off scraps from his teammates, however, with playmaker Ariel Ibagaza ruled out after aggravating an injury at the weekend.

A. Oxlade-Chamberlain

Position: Midfielder

Games: 7

  • 1
  • 1
  • 0
With star trio Van Persie, Theo Walcott and Gervinho likely to be rested, there could be another chance for young Oxlade-Chamberlain to prove his worth at European level. The youngster grabbed a goal on his debut in the competition in the reverse fixture back in September, and he will be hoping to give his manager a timely reminder of his talents with the fixture list continuing to pile up.

The hosts will be pressing for goals at the other end, and the former Southampton man could punish his opponents on the break with his pace and skill on the ball.

Editor's Prediction

With Arsenal likely to rest key players and Olympiakos desperate for goals, this could be a lively and entertaining fixture, with plenty of attacking play in the offing – particularly from the hosts, who have everything to play for.

Even with the Gunners at half-strength, expect Wenger’s men to prove a match for the Greek side, particularly with many players hoping to prove a point to their manager.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Olympiakos Piraeus



Betting & Predictions

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