Arsenal vs. Olympiakos
UEFA Champions League Group B Round 2
Kickoff: Wednesday, October 3, 245 PM EDT
Emirates Stadium, London, UK
Form: ARS WWDWL | OLY WWLWW
TV: Fox Sports Net (in your area), foxsoccer.tv (subscribers only)
Arsenal welcome Olympiakos Piraeus to the Emirates Stadium for the second game of this year's Champions League group stage. The Gunners, of course, faced the same club in last year's group stage, winning at home 2-1 before losing a dead rubber 3-1 in Greece, and the Kokkini went on to lose out to Schalke 04 in the Europa League later on in the year. It didn't stop them from winning the Greek SuperLeague, however, and here we are again.
The biggest change from last year for the Greek side is the loss of Kevin Mirallas, their talisman, to Everton, where he's gotten off to a pretty good start.
That doesn't mean that they should be taken lightly by anyone, captain Vasilis Torisidis and vice-captain Avraam Papadopoulos staples of the Greek national team. [UPDATE: turns out they're both injured. Never mind!] Of potential interest also to Premier League viewers is the man in their no. 1 kit, Roy Carroll, former Manchester United goalkeeper.
The Independent got a view from Greece for their coverage of the match, and one key thing to keep an eye on is the play of Greek international Kostas Mitroglou: "...Injury to leading goalscorer Rafik Djebbour means that Mitroglou will need to step up in his place. The 24-year-old frontman scored 16 goals in Greece last season."
The team news for Arsenal is mostly not surprising, Wojciech Szczesny still facing some time in the trainer's room along with Abou Diaby. The worrying thing is that Mikel Arteta faces an injury test, having picked up an ankle problem against Chelsea. Everyone else is healthy, but some rotation is probably to be expected to avoid fatigue ahead of what is sure to be a tricky match at Upton Park against West Ham on the weekend. Given that, expect Arsenal to line up something like this tomorrow:
with Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs, hard workers of the left, getting spelled. Unless it's a laugher, though, expect to see Poldi off the bench along with probably Theo Walcott or Andrei Arshavin.
We'll have more for you tomorrow in the buildup to the game.
Match prediction: The game is a surprisingly tight, terse undertaking for both sides for 67 minutes, until Andrei Arshavin comes on for Aaron Ramsey. He and Cazorla immediately boost each other up to the top shelf of the cupboard where Wenger keeps the good cookies, and while they snicker and run away, Wenger chases them, throwing water bottles like Donkey Kong. Meanwhile, Andre Santos saunters up the left and cuts inside, laying a reverse pass off for Olivier Giroud, who looks up at Carroll, gives him the ol' Stinkeye, and buries it far corner. Arsenal win, 1-0, and cookies for everyone.