After an indifferent start to the Champions League campaign this season with two losses in the first two games, the Gunners got their campaign back on track with wins against Bayern and Dinamo Zagreb. However, they need to beat Olympiakos by two goals or beat them by scoring three or more in their own backyard which is really difficult.
Beating Olympiakos in Greece had been difficult for even the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the past. Hence, we really have a difficult task ahead of us heading into this game. The 3-1 weekend win over Sunderland in the Premier League has surely boosted our confidence, as we were without the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. That is why I feel that Wenger will stick on to the same team from Saturday.
Petr Cech who was the man of the match against Sunderland will definitely retain his place going into today’s game. Our back line was pretty decent in the previous game and in all likelihood the manager will not alter our back four. Aaron Ramsey excelled in the central midfield role on Saturday in Cazorla’s absence hence he will continue playing there today as well, but the CDM position might come to debate because Mathieu Flamini and Calum Chambers played reasonably well against Sunderland.
Flamini also had a decent game while Chambers played extremely well in the little time he got. However I feel Wenger will start Flamini just because of his vast experience, but Chambers might make a substitute appearance again later in the game. Joel Campbell who was our best outfield player over the weekend looks set to retain his place in the playing eleven as he prepares to return to Greece after spending the entire 2013/14 season at Olympiakos. So he will be a player to watch out for today.
Mesut Ozil is Arsenal’s playmaker and with Sanchez being unavailable for today’s game, Ozil is expected to dictate the game for the gunners. With him firing from the beginning, a player like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is the only recognized left winger in our side will definitely benefit a lot and might actually go on to score today if he also has a little luck on his side. So now comes the real test for Wenger with Walcott back in contention for a starting place he must make a choice between Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott for the striker’s role. No matter who starts the game, the other will definitely come in as a substitute in the second half around the 60th minute. Hence, both of them are crucial for our progression to the next round.
However I feel that it will be Walcott who will starts just because of his pace as Wenger would be willing to stick to an attacking strategy right from the beginning of the game and Walcott’s pace will be helpful in not only scoring goals but also creating chances for others. So we can more or less expect club manager Arsene Wenger to field the same team from Saturday which defeated Sunderland against Olympiakos in this all important do-or-die Champions League clash with the exception of Theo Walcott replacing Olivier Giroud. Predicted Formation: 4-2-3-1
Bellerin, Mertesacker ©, Koscielny, Monreal
Campbell, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Ospina (gk), Gabriel, Chambers, Debuchy, Gibbs, Iwobi, Giroud.