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Arsenal have already qualified for the latter stages of the Champions League, but will look to top the group with a win tonight over Olmypiakos. However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has opted to rest several first-team regulars for Wednesday's final Champions League Group B match at Olympiakos.
Arsenal find themselves second in group B with 12 points from 5 games. To finish top of the group the Gunners will be dependent on Schalkes' result, although a win tonight will steer them into the right direction.
The rest of key players may be a concern for Arsenal fans – who realise it is essential that the Gunners finish top of the Group in order to prevent playing the big teams so early in the competition. Arsenal lost 2-0 to Swansea last weekend, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes certain players need a rest.
He said: “Some are injured. When I count the injured players I speak about Podolski, Walcott. We needed to rest Wilshere, 100%. Cazorla, Arteta and Mertesacker played many games recently and have been rested.”
Arsene Wenger himself knows the importance of this tie, saying: “Our one luxury is that we can do it [rest players], but the one necessity is to win the game tomorrow night.”
“I try to find the right balance between resting some playing and having a competitive team. I'm convinced Montpellier will make a result against Schalke - they are highly motivated to do it.”
However, Wenger is curious his side can put on a display to finish top of Group B tonight: “"If we win I'm convinced we will finish top of the group, but we know Olympiakos is a difficult place and we need to play at a very good level to do it.”
Arsenal Last 5 Results: W – W – D – D - L
01/12/12 – Arsenal 0 – 2 Swansea
28/11/12 – Everton 1 – 1 Arsenal
24/11/12 – Aston Villa 0 – 0 Arsenal
21/11/12 – Arsenal 2 – 0 Montepellier
17/11/12 – Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham
Olympiakos Last 5 Results: W – W – L – D – W
01/12/12 – Olympiakos 2 – 1 Platanias
25/11/12 – PAK Salonika 1 – 1 Olympiakos
21/11/12 – Schalke 04 1 – 0 Olympiakos
1711/12 – Olympiakos 2 – 0 Kerkyra
11/12/12 AEK Athens 0 – 4 Olympiakos
Arsenal v Olympiakos Head to Head Record: -
03/10/12 – Champions League – Arsenal 3 – 1 Olympiakos
06/12/11 - Champions League – Olympiakos 3 – 1 Arsenal
29/09/11 - Champions League – Arsenal 2 – 1 Olympiakos
09/12/09 - Champions League – Olympiakos 1 – 0 Arsenal
30-09/09 - Champions League – Arsenal 2 – 0 Olympiakos
The Gunners have always played the home fixture first against Olympiakos and have not lost to Olympiakos at home, nor have they won away to The Greek Champions. If stats are anything to go by – we can expect a Olympiakos win tonight.
Probable Line Up: Arsenal -
Szczesny – Coquelin - Vermaelen – Squillaci – Meade – Ramsey – Rosicky – Akporn – Arshavin – Chamberlain - Gervinho
Probable Line Up: Olympiakos -
Olympiakos – Carroll – Torosidis – Modesto – Maniatis – Holebas - Machado, Fuster – Abdoun – Ibagaza – Mitroglu - Djebbour
Predicted Score: 2-1
I personally think Arsenal's squad is too weak and inexperienced for the trip to Olympiakos tonight. Arsene Wenger and his side have qualified for the latter stages of the tournament and Wenger will be keen to rest his first team players in order to reignite their domestic campaign.
I dont see many goals in this Arsenal side with Gervinho looking incredibly lacklustre against Swansea last weekend – although we can't forget his goal-scoring exploits earlier this season.
Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea
All to win in the Champions League this week is an enhanced price of 15.00!