Injury- strewn Arsenal welcome Olympiacos + Other News
When preparing to write this post, I realised four days in football is quite “more than four days in reality” but good thing is those four days that seemed like a fortnight are up, as Arsenal come up against Greek champions Olympiacos Piraeus at the Emirates in the Champions League tonight.
Last time out, we were minutes away from snatching all three points at Borussia Dortmund and we’ve gone on to win two matches from three since then with the backline improving steadily from three goals conceded at Blackburn Rovers to none on Saturday against Bolton.
That improvement will come under real scrutiny against the Greek visitors with news that Laurent Koscielny will miss the game with a slight injury. That would see Per Mertesacker likely being partnered at the back by Alex Song. Kozzer’s not the only one out of tonight’s match though.
Walcott hasn’t recovered well enough from the knee injury picked up against Bolton to feature tonight and Gervinho has also been ruled out of the encounter. Both attackers though, along with Kozzer, should be back in contention to face the sillywhites on Sunday.
Arsène will also serve the last of his two match touchline ban from UEFA leaving Pat Rice with the chance to manage once again; and hopefully get a win under his belt while le Professeur has to watch on from the Directors’ Box.
In Olympiacos, we come up against Kevin Mirallas, a striker who has quite a good return on goals on the domestic front. There’s also experienced Swedish defender Olof Mellberg who coincidentally scored the first competitive goal at the Emirates while with Aston Villa.
For us, it will be the Champions League home debut of Mikel Arteta and he will likely have Aaron Ramsey and Emmanuel Frimpong with him in midfield while Andrey Arshavin looks set to start on the flanks in the absence of Gerv and Walcott. Second person to be on the flanks behind in-form Robin van Persie is anybody’s guess really with one of Rosicky, AOC and Park gunning for a start, just as starting Andre Santos at left back and pushing Kieran Gibbs forward remains an option.
Predicted line-up: Szczesny; Sagna, Song, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Ramsey, Frimpong, Arteta; Arshavin, Rosicky, van Persie. I’d rather have Song drafted to CB than endure 90 mins (if he lasts that long) of Djourou craze. Whatever happened to the confident/calm defender that ruled our back line early last season? Only God knows.
To “off field” issues, Wenger believes two years is quite an a lot of time in football, so for RvP to not be in a rush to renew his contract isn’t such an issue. He also quelled the hype surrounding the run up to his 15th anniversary as manager of Arsenal coming up on Saturday, stating he “is not one for anniversaries”.
Not one for such he may be, but we’d certainly would love for the matches before and after October 1st to be won, just to make it a sweeter 15th anniversary for him and more importantly pick up from where we left off against Shrewsbury and Bolton… winning!
There is a game to be won tonight though, anything less than three points and the press will be on our case again. Not like we care or anything; it’s just amazing how no one seems to be bothered when almighty Man City were outplayed by and lost to Germany’s 3rd best team, but when Arsenal draw with the Champions, we are in a crisis.
Have fun wherever you watch the game from… should be fun. My money is on RVP to start a new century of Arsenal goals and 3 nil to the Arsenal!
Any Predictions? Let us know in the comments!