After successfully navigating the Round of 32 against Benfica, Arsenal faces off once again with Greek champions Olympiacos. Mikel Arteta’s side is coming off a frustrating draw at Burnley, in which all the luck fell to the hosts. But the squad should be fit and motivated to start strong in Thursday’s away leg.
Olympiacos advanced by topping PSV Eindhoven 5-4 over two legs, even though they dropped the return tie 2-1. They are running away with the Super League Greece, currently ahead by 16 points. However, Arsenal won’t need any reminder or extra motivation of how dangerous they can be, having fallen to a late goal sending the Gunners out of the competition last season.
The Karaiskakis Stadium played home to Arsenal’s ‘home’ leg in the series with Benfica. Matching up with either Lacazette or Aubameyang on the Olympiacos backline will be former Gunner Sokratis, who made his move back to Greece this January after being excluded from the squad by Mikel Arteta for the season. Plenty of history between these two sides and plenty on the line with a spot in the quarterfinals up for grabs.
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Eddie Nketiah
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Martin Ødegaard
- Dani Ceballos
- Mohamed Elneny
- Calum Chambers
- Mat Ryan
- Alex Runarsson
- Left Out: Reiss Nelson
- Out: N/A
- The draw at Burnley left Arsenal 12 points behind 4th place for the final automatic Champions League spot, with a game in hand. It’s possible but unlikely at this point. The Gunners would need to go on an incredible winning streak in the league, starting with the North London Derby this weekend. Even then they need numerous teams to drop a lot of points between now and the end of the season. The route that remains fully in their control is the Europa League, and as such Arteta needs to use his best XI.
- At the moment Arsenal is very healthy, especially for them, with only Emile Smith Rowe recently picking up a minor injury against Leicester City. If he is fit, he starts. If he is ruled out late on or can’t make the trip, then Odegaard starts and Reiss Nelson moves up to the bench.
- Three other changes from the weekend: (1) Pepe on the left for Willian, where he should give Olympiacos’ defenders fits, (2) Hector Bellerin in for Calum Chambers at right-back, and (3) Rob Holding comes in for David Luiz to pair with Pablo Mari.
- Arteta may try to overthink this or mix up the squad looking ahead to the second leg and the NLD on Sunday, with any number of bench players in from the start - Lacazette, Cedric, Elneny, Ceballos, Gabriel, etc. But he, and Arsenal, need a win on Thursday. Away goals and a clean sheet. Confidence heading into the home leg. Instruct the fullbacks and midfielders to get Saka and Pepe the ball early and often to put pressure on from the start.
How to watch
Thursday (3/11) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT on Paramount+.
Arsenal - 2
Olympiacos - 1