Olympiacos. Old friends we have come up against almost every season, it feels like. Last season goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andre Santos saw us triumph 2-1 in the corresponding fixture. It was a nervous affair as our squad strength was being tested as an injury crisis started to bite.
That makes news of Mikel Arteta being doubtful and Abou Diaby being ruled out a little more concerning, but we were in a much worse shape a year ago. Alex Song filled in at centre-half, Emmanuel Frimpong was in midfield, and Marouane Chamakh started up top. This time around Vito Mannone should start behind unchanged full-backs, and there may be a recall for Per Mertesacker alongside the skipper?
In midfield the options to replace Arteta and Diaby have made for interesting debate today. Perm any two from Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to accompany Santi Cazorla. That creates a vacancy on the flank which Gervinho could fill if Olivier Giroud starts up front alongside Lukas Podolski. In a way I would prefer to see Theo Walcott start, but the reason that has kept him benchwarming thus far hasn’t gone away, and we have options.
We know Olympiacos will defend in numbers, but having lost at home to Schalke in their opener they will have to commit to hitting us on the break as often as they are allowed. They will have more ambition than perhaps we are used to seeing from them, and we will have to show we have learned the lessons of Saturday, when a side with a similar gameplan subjected us to our first defeat. They may not match Chelsea’s quality in midfield, but that doesn’t mean we should treat them lightly.
I’m going to have to punt the ‘holic pound on us to win, but that midfield disruption has me a little less bullish than usual. I will go for a repeat of the 2-0 win of 2009/10, although hopefully the goals will come a little earlier than the final twelve minutes in which they appeared that night.
Only One Place To Go To Read Up On The Finances
You will have noticed I have steered clear of the thorny topic of Arsenal’s finances after the latest results were published. There are a couple of very good reasons for that. Firstly when I do it tends to provoke a level of debate in the drinks that is spikier and less enjoyable than usual. Secondly because nobody, but nobody, covers the topic better than the excellent Swiss Ramble. For his latest update please click here.
A more thorough review of the situation you won’t find.
Take care, ‘holics.
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