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Olympiakos

Emirates Stadium

30th September 2015; 18:45 GMT

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Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger would be hoping to win his first game in this season’s Champions League, following the shock defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in the first game. Following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Zagreb and Chelsea FC, the Gunners have been able to win their last two games – against Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.

After a poor start to the season, where Arsenal FC’s profligacy in front of goal was heavily criticized, the Gunners came to party in the match against Leicester City, hitting five past the Foxes. Arsene Wenger’s Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez, who had a poor start to the season also rediscovered his form of last year with a stunning hat-trick in the 5-2 rout of Leicester.

Olympiakos on the other hand have maintained a 100 percent record in their domestic league, winning all five of their matches so far. However, the Greek side were comprehensively beaten by Bayern Munich in their first Champions League clash. The Thrylos would be looking to get their first points on the board in the Champions League group stages, if they are to qualify for the knockout stages.

Team news and tactics

Arsenal FC

Arsene Wenger has adopted a squad rotation policy this season, which has contributed to mixed results. While his squad rotation lead to the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb, the same rotation worked in last week’s midweek Cup fixture against Tottenham. The Frenchman is expected to continue with his rotation and Colombian shot-stopper David Ospina, who appears to be Arsenal FC’s cup keeper for the season is expected to start in between the sticks.

Arsenal FC’s defence has been reinforced by the return of Per Mertesacker, who missed a month of football due to sickness. The experienced German will partner Laurent Koscielny in the heart of defence, while Kieran Gibbs will start at left-back ahead of Nacho Monreal, who will probably be rested in light of Arsenal FC’s weekend clash against Manchester United. Wenger will count on Mathieu Debuchy’s experience and the Frenchman is expected to get the nod ahead of Hector Bellerin at the right hand side of the back four.

Arsene Wenger has finally settled on the 4-2-3-1 formation and club captain Mikel Arteta could form the double pivot alongside Santi Cazorla. Francis Coquelin has missed Arsenal FC’s last two fixtures with a knee injury, but will return to the bench for the clash against Olympiakos.

With Olivier Giroud suspended, having been sent off in the clash against Olympiakos, Theo Walcott will look to spearhead Arsenal FC’s attack. Mesut Ozil will start in his preferred No. 10 role, while Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez could be rested for the weekend clash against the Red Devils. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Campbell are expected to fill in on the flanks.

Expected line-up (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Cazorla, Ozil; Chamberlain, Campbell, Walcott

Olympiakos

Marco Silva’s side are without the services of midfielder Luka Milivojevic, who was handed a two-match ban after getting sent off in the Europa League clash against Dnipro last season. Club captain Giannis Maniatis has been sidelined for several months after picking up a knee injury, while midfielder Andreas Bouchalakis has not yet recovered from the hamstring injury he picked up last month.

Cultured midfielder Alejandro Dominguez, who was injured in the clash against Bayern Munich, is expected to make his first team return tonight at the Emirates stadium. The Olympiakos back room staff are sweating over the fitness of defender Manuel da Costa, who picked up a calf strain last week. If fit, the Moroccan will partner Dimitris Siovas in the heart of defence.

Spanish goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez will retain his position in between the sticks. Arthur Masuaku will most certainly start for the Thrylos at left-back, with Norwegian fullback Omar Elabdellaoui covering the other flank.

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Marco Silva will be lining up in his preferred 4-1-2-1-2 line-up with veteran midfielder Esteban Cambiasso sitting in front of the back four, orchestrating the team’s play from the deep. Former West Bromwich Albion flop Brown Ideye will lead the line alongside Colombian Felipe Pardo. Former Fulham wideman Pajtim Kasami will line up on the left flank, while Brazilian fullback Leandro Salino will take up the right flank.

Expected line-up (4-1-2-1-2): Jimenez; Elabdellaoui, Costa, Siovas, Masuaku; Cambiasso, Salino, Kasami, Dominguez, Pardo, Ideye

Key Facts

  • Theo Walcott has failed to score in his last eight Champions League home games, his last goal came against Partizan Belgrade in December 2010.
  • Arsenal FC have failed to score in only three of their last 29 Champions League games.
  • Olympiakos have lost the second most no. of games in the history of Champions League, with 50. Porto lead the list with 51.
  • In the last six encounters between the two teams, the home side has won all of them.

Player To Watch Out For

Theo Walcott

Arsenal vs Stoke City

The English winger opened the scoring in Arsenal FC’s last game against Leicester City and slowly looks to be getting into the groove as a striker. Arsene Wenger has preferred Walcott’s pace and ability to run behind in many crucial matches so far this season and the 26-year-old will be hoping to come good and end his Champions League barren run.

Prediction

Arsenal FC 3 – 1 Olympiakos

Coming on the back of a 5-2 win over Leicester City, the Gunners would be looking to take their momentum in the Champions League. Arsenal FC’s front line have failed to fire in most of their games till the clash against Leicester and Arsene Wenger would be hoping that his troops come good ahead of the clash against Manchester United.

The Frenchman’s decision to not sign a striker during the transfer window has been heavily criticized, but he would be hoping that his strikers repay the faith he has put on them. Arsenal FC also have Bayern Munich to overcome in the group stages and they would be hoping to take maximum points from their other games.

Blast from the past