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
Koscielny, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Santos
Coquelin, Frimpong, Benayoun
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh, Arshavin
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.
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, whilst Abou Diaby could be in contention to feature after missing the victory over Wigan.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- 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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