Greece, an ancient pillar of Western Civilization, known for excellent food and tragic plays, and while it would be nice for everything to always be a fresh plate of flaming cheese, Arsenal are facing down a big test to save their Champions League campaign. Tragic for it is a circumstance of their own making.
When the group was drawn, it would surprise no one to see Bayern Munich top the group as they have. But after that, Olympiakos was a tough but very beatable team while Zagreb took up the role of "happy to be here". Arsenal promptly stumbled, giving up wins to both of them to help create the unlikely escape scenario set before them Wednesday. And much like the great tragedies of Prometheus, bound and tortured for his arrogance to steal from the gods, Orpheus, for failing to ignore his wife's constant query of "are we there yet?", or Oedipus, who sadly had to shoot his dog after it contracted rabies after fending off a wolf (honestly, Oedipus & Rex is hard for pet owners), Arsenal are now facing their own final act against a tough home team with no one to blame but themselves.
Much like any good play, Arsenal are rife with hardships. The infirmary is a relative revolving door to the point that the players might be looking over their shoulders to see if they are next. The regular choice midfield is gone, placing the emphasis squarely on the shoulders of one Mesut Ozil, who will need to guide them through an Olympiakos team that is healthy, cruising in the league and only has defeats against Bayern this year. Even Wenger is staring down the loss of a remarkable 12 year streak of qualifying out of the group stage, faced with risking all at the gates of Troy for a chance at his Helenic prize over solidifying his power domestically. All at the cost of being banished to the barren fields of Europa, should these aspirations fail.
But there is hope. Despite needing a win of 2-0 or with 3+ goals to advance, the attack is bolstered by the return of Theo Walcott, who'll likely find time along Giroud to find goals. Aaron Ramsey, in moving back to his natural midfield spot, will provide energy at least to back Ozil up. Mathieu Flamini... is... good at waving his hands. Joel Campbell just scored an honest to goodness goal. A real nice one. That's something!
It's all to play for and, as they say, the stage is set. Go on out there and brea--hang on... don't do that.
Olympiakos v. Arsenal
Champions League Group Stage
Karaiskaki Stadium, Athens
Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015
11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 19:45 BT
How (to watch):
USA: Fox Sports Go, Fox Sports 2
Worldwide info: livesoccer.tv
Prediction: Olympiakos 0 - 3 Arsenal, because as we know, Arsenal save Tragedy for the Round of 16.