Champions League Preview:Arsenal v Olympiakos

When Arsenal were drawn alongside Standard Liege, Olympiakos and AZ Alkmaar, fans could be forgiven for expecting easy qualification from Group H.  Although still on course for this, the Arsenal players have been shown that they cannot assume the same complacency.
Standard Liege, although they were not a great side, showed that clubs are ready to give their all in the Champions League.
Beating a team like Arsenal is a huge scalp and, especially at home, teams will give it a right go.  One thing that has been missed is that the second qualifying place in our group could really go to any of the three teams.  That means that they will all know that a result against Arsenal could be crucial.  Grab a victory against the group favourites and it may make the difference in what will be a close group.
If Arsenal are not on their game, they will not get out of games as luckily as they did in Liege.  We have a chance to build confidence in these games and send out a message to the rest of Europe.  I know it was the opening group game and an away win is as important as a performance, but we do need to play a hell of a lot better than that if we have serious ambitions of winning the Champions League.  I personally believe the Champions League is our biggest chance of success.  It takes far fewer games to win than the League, and I still doubt our credentials over a long gruelling domestic season.  Our football is promoted in the CL and it is most likely to prosper on the European stage.
That said, we must still negotiate the group stages and we will take a large step to doing this if we can muster a victory against Olympiakos tonight.  I would hope we can provide a good performance to go with it and build on the Fulham result.  We were average on Saturday and Wenger will hope for more from his players.
An exciting part of our current squad is competition for places in an attacking sense.  With Denilson out now for 2 months, Song will most likely start pretty much every game.  That leaves two slots in central midfield and Wenger knows he has Fabregas, Rosicky, Ramsey and Diaby all trying to get in the side.   Fabregas will not be dropped despite his poor form; his assist at Fulham showed why.
Fabregas was poor for the first 50 minutes against Fulham, misplacing passes and being dispossessed too easily on numerous occasions.  However, he showed that in one moment of brilliance, he can turn a game.  The pass to Van Persie was pure class and Fabregas has that ability to create the winning chance in one swift moment.  Wenger will be comforted that he can rest his skipper due to those pushing for a place, and when Nasri is back he will have even more of a tough call to make; it is a healthy one to have!
Wenger said yesterday that Denilson’s injury is a real chance for Diaby to cement his place in the side.  He must get some consistency into his game or Rosicky and even Ramsey will be demanding Wenger for their chance.  Wenger wants to give Diaby the chance to be the player the manager envisages that he can be.  However, moments of brilliance are clouded with moments of frustration and indecision.   Personally, I wish he would pull the trigger more often.  This kind of game is one in which he can impose himself and I hope to see Diaby try and dominate his space and bring impetus to the performance.
Bendtner’s car crash has allowed Wenger to chance his team without any qualms of removing a man in form.  I was shocked to see the newspapers fail to acknowledge how well Bendtner played against Fulham.  On countless occasions Bendtner got the ball down and protected it, enabling us to keep possession and work our way forward.  He was committed and seemed to have the most desire to impress.  Eduardo will come into the side and I would love to see him played through the middle.  A front three that looks like this has me dreaming:
Robin Van Persie============Eduardo============Andrey Arshavin
The way we play this system, there is often space in behind the lone forward to exploit.  Robin Van Persie can make clever runs as he showed on Saturday and this space could be perfect for him to exploit.  His creativity would be a great threat from the right as teams would fear him cutting in on his left foot.  Van Persie often wastes too many chances to be our centre forward.  If there is someone who does NOT waste chances, it is Eduardo.  We want our strikers to start scoring again and Eduardo could be the perfect person to be in and around the box.
The creativity of Arshavin and RVP would provide Eddy with those chances but at the moment it seems to me that he has the wrong personnel in the wrong places.  People will point to Van Persie’s goal against Fulham but Van Persie can still make similar runs from the right and then can also become more of a creator, what he does best in my opinion.  Arshavin was very out of sorts against Fulham but very often Arshavin looks for the killer ball into the middle but RVP is not always there.  Eduardo is hungry to get on the end of things and this makes him so dangerous.  We must get the best out of our best finisher and playing him on the left is not the way.
The side will no doubt look something like this though:
======================Mannone======================
Sagna==========Gallas============Vermaelen=======Clichy
========================Song=======================
===============Diaby=============Fabregas============
Arshavin===============Van Persie===============Eduardo
An accomplished performance would be nice to see after the Fulham game and an early goal could be crucial.  If we give Olympiakos belief, they will grow in confidence and that is when the game becomes much much tougher.  Greek teams are famous for their energy but if we can counter this with a positive early spell, we should be in for a decent result.
In what will be a long season, we do not want to make this group tougher than it needs to be.  A win tonight will make qualification that little bit closer and hopefully be the start of a good run of form.

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