Arsenal are in Greece to take on Olympiakos in their final Champions League Group B clash hoping to secure victory and with it, top spot in the table.
We’ve already secured qualification to the knockout stages so Arsene Wenger has taken the opportunity to rest the majority of the first-team squad, despite the fact defeat would see us finish second in the group.
Given the lacklustre performances of recent weeks and the obvious fact that many players are in need of a rest, i back the boss on his decision. Many players like Cazorla, Podolski and Arteta have looked tired in recent games and this represents the best opportunity to rest them given how important Saturday’s game with West Brom has now become.
Even with a fully-fit team out tonight it would be a tough task to win the game, and even a win wouldn’t guarantee us topping the group as we’re relying on Schalke to drop points at Montpellier as well, plus topping the group doesn’t bring with it enough benefit to justify fielding our strongest eleven, so I’m happy to give the reserves a go.
Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla have all been left back in London.
This gives youngsters Zak Ansah, Sead Hajrovic, Elton Monteiro, Chuba Akpom and James Shea the chance to taste first-team action tonight, although they are all expected to start from the bench. Sebastien Squillaci is the only other senior centre back in the squad along with Vermaelen, so he’s expected to play. Oh dear.
While the team is going to be severely under-strength, we will still be able to call upon Wojciech Szczesny, Thomas Vermaelen, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while outcasts Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh are also excerpted to feature.
With Andre Santos still out with a stomach injury, the left back birth is likely to be filled by youngster Jernade Meade, who impressed during a cameo against Reading in the Capital One Cup.
Olympiakos will be without defender Jose Holebas who serves a one-match ban after collecting his third yellow card of the group stages against Schalke last time out. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll may come in to the starting eleven
The home side can play without fear as they have already secured third place and with it Europa League football, so it’s pretty-much a dead rubber for them. But they have an excellent home record and i have a feeling this is going to be a tough night for us. A draw would be a good result, but sadly i can’t see this eleven getting all three points against the tricky Greek outfit. Olympiakos 2-1 Arsenal.
What would your team be and what’s your score prediction? Get involved in the comments section below.