Olympiacos vs Arsenal preview | Confirmed team news | Expected line-ups | Prediction
Arsenal are in Greece to take on Olympaicos in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie tonight [8pm kick-off].
The Gunners will be out for revenge after the Greek outfit sent them packing at this stage in last seasons competition. Olympiacos scored a dramatic late goal in extra-time at the Emirates to send Arsenal crashing out 2-1 on aggregate so Mikel Arteta will be determined to put things right this time around.
Arsenal breezed through the group stages this season but needed a late Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal to avoid another shock exit to Benfica in the first knockout round so they’ll have to up their game if they want to avoid another early exit.
The north Londoners have endured a torrid campaign and while there have been signs of improvement in recent months, a 1-1 draw at Burnley last weekend has left them sitting 10th in the Premier League table so winning the Europa League is arguably their best chance of playing European football next year.
Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns to worry about following the draw with Burnley so Arteta has virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Emile Smith Rowe missed the trip to Turf Moor last Saturday due to a hip injury but he’s expected to return to the squad tonight after training on Wednesday.
Arteta is likely to rotate his starting eleven with the likes of Hector Bellerin, Gabriel and Nicolas Pepe pushing for recalls after being named on the bench at the weekend.
Olympiacos look short in defence as Ruben Semedo and Avraam Papadopoulos are out injured while Ousseynou Ba picked up a knock at the weekend. However, former Arsenal centre-back Sokratis is expected to recover from a shoulder problem to start.
Mady Camara will return from suspension and Yann M’Vila could be deployed at the back.
Olympiacos XI: Sa; Lala, Sokratis, M’Vila, Reabciuk; Camara, Bouchalakis; Valbuena, Fortounis, Bruma; El Arabi
Olympiacos 1-2 Arsenal: Arsenal are much stronger on paper and will be confident of progressing over the two legs but this should still be a tricky tie for the Gunners away from home. Olympiacos impressed to beat PSV Eindhoven in the last round but their injury crisis in defence could be their downfall tonight.
If Arsenal can cut out the silly mistakes in defence, we back them to bring home a valuable 2-1 victory that will put them in pole position ahead of the second leg at the Emirates Stadium next week.
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