Arsenal host Greek club Olympiakos for Matchday Two of the UEFA Champions League group stages and will want a quick and confident win to erase memories of the 1-2 defeat to Chelsea over the weekend.
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Arsenal will want to put the disappointment of the 1-2 defeat to Chelsea (the Gunners' first competitive defeat of the season) behind them as quickly as possible. In theory, this should be an easy home win for Arsene Wenger's side and the Frenchman will also want the win to consolidate their position at the top of Group B. The Emirates side will host Schalke 04, co-leaders of the group at this stage - next and will want as much of a cushion before the trips to Greece and Germany.
The Gunners won their first game in the group - away to French champions Montpellier - 2-1, thanks to goals from new signing Lukas Podolski and Ivorian international Gervinho. French striker Olivier Giroud's performance was of particular interest in that game, given he was playing against his old side and was then (as he still is) struggling to score for his new club. The 25 year old striker's first goal for Arsenal, against Coventry City in a Capital One Cup match, eased some of the pressure on him but expectations continue to outweigh results, as far as he is concerned.
Fortunately for Wenger, his other new signings - Podolski and Spain's Santi Cazorla - have stepped up to deliver the goals and performances expected of them, easing the pressure on both Giroud and Wenger. Incidentally, Wenger will not be on the touchline for this game; the Frenchman serves the second of a three-match ban, meaning assistant Steve Bould will, once again, take charge.
Meanwhile, Olympiakos have been in good form in their domestic campaign. Leonardo Jardim has led the side to five wins in the opening five games. More importantly, the defence has been miserly, conceding only five goals in all competitions this season. Jardim's side will have work to do though. Olympiakos lost the opening game of the group, at home, to Schalke.
The two sides met each other in the group stages last season as well, with Arsenal winning 2-1 at home but losing 1-3 away.
- Last Five (most recent first) - L W D W W
- Last result - Arsenal 1 - 2 Chelsea
- Last Five (most recent first) - W W L W W
- Last result - Atromitos 0 - 1 Olympiakos
Arsenal: The Gunners may be without Spain's Mikel Arteta for this game. The former Everton man will face a late fitness test for an ankle injury. French international Abou Diaby is definitely ruled out though, for up to three weeks, after a thigh strain during the Chelsea game. In addition, Czech Republic's Tomas Rosicky and Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will all be unavailable. France's Bacary Sagna has begun training again, after a broken leg in May, but has yet to be chosen for the first team and will be unlikely to start this game. He may, however, receive a run-out at some point.
The big boost for Wenger, though, is that England midfielder Jack Wilshire played for about an hour in an U21 match against West Brom. The 20 year old has had bad luck with injuries in recent months and has not played for the seniors for over a year now.
"He came through it all right," Wenger explained afterwards, "There was no reaction. We are pleased but it is now down to taking the right time to ease him slowly back."
Youngster Carl Jenkinson has been in fine form of late and will retain his place on the flank, alongside Kieran Gibbs, Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny in front of Vito Mannone. The loss of both Arteta and Diaby will mean Cazorla and Podolski will be joined by either Gervinho, Giroud or maybe Theo Walcott up front, with youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain likely to start alongside Welshman Aaron Ramsey that, once again, looks suspiciously lightweight in midfield.
An alternative could be to drop the physically more able Gervinho to midfield, from where, given their pace and ability on the ball, both Oxlade-Chamberlain and the Ivory Coast star can run at Olympiakos defenders from deep.
Probable Line-Up: Mannone; Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey; Cazorla, Gervinho, Podolski; Giroud
Olympiakos: The Greeks have a few injury worries of their own. The club has coped well with the loss of last season's leading goal scorer, Kevin Mirallas of Belgium, who transferred to Everton this summer. Algerian international Rafik Djebbour has taken up that mantle, with six goals so far this season. Unfortunately, Jardim is likely to be without Djebbour for this game, in addition to captain Vassilis Torossidis and Tassos Papazoglou. Francois Modesto faces a late fitness test.
Notable players who are likely to play, however, are former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll and Atletico Madrid and Villarrel's Argentine playmaker Ariel Ibagaza, who, on his day, is quite capable of giving the Arsenal backline the runaround.
Probable Line-Up: Carroll; Contreras, Holabas, Manolas, Modesto; Maniatis, Machado, Abdoun, Ibagaza; Fuster, Mitroglou
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