Arsenal v Olympiacos pre-match

Europa League football is upon us tonight and we have the return leg against Olympiacos at The Emirates. Last week’s game finished 1-0 to us and having scored an all important away goal we’ll be looking to add more to our tally and not concede (obviously).

I’m sure North London has a fair amount of Olympiacos supporters in residence and so the stadium should be packed and rocking for this game. Night-time football is so special and even though it’s not the Champions League, a European game under the lights has that inspiring feel about it. Now that we’re in the knock out stages of the competition there will also be a nervous edge. With the big prize of Champions League football for the winner of this competition every care must be taken to progress.

This was Arteta’s response when asked about how important European football was to the club and whether it affected his team selection.

“We have three different routes to Europe. We have to try to maximise the three of them and we go game by game,” he said.

“That’s all we can do at the moment because the objectives are still so far behind.”

It’s quite difficult to predict Mikel’s line up for games now that we know that he chooses players on their performance in training rather than reputation. I’m hoping that Saka managed some rest after Sunday but was also able to impress Arteta so that he is included tonight. We are short of left-backs now that Kolasinac is injured too.

Tonight I would hope to see Pepe, Martinelli and Lacazette ……… so how does he fit Aubameyang in?

Bellerin should return at right-back with Mustafi (first name on the team sheet after recent performances) and Luiz paired at centre-back.

Torreira should start alongside Xhaka with hopefully Ozil just behind the front three. Only who will the front three be? The FA Cup game on Monday could see some of these rested so lets play the best team tonight and progress in the competion.

Here’s my stab at a team …….


Bellerin   Mustafi   Luiz   Saka

Torreira   Xhaka


Pepe   Lacazette   Aubameyang

It’s snowing heavily out of my window which is not great but according to all sources it’ll stop by midday. I’m looking forward to the game.





82 Responses to Arsenal v Olympiacos pre-match

  1. Forgot to mention that when I watched the footage of the Press conference from yesterday I felt so sorry for Lacazette who was asked a lot of questions about his feelings during his goal drought!!!! Poor guy …….. his responses were very dry. I’ll see if I can find it.

  2. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the PM peaches. As you know, I’m not going, but as you say, European nights at The Emirates are special, the atmosphere should be electric fuelled by boisterous North London kebab shop owners 😆

  3. RockyLives says:

    Nice one Peaches.

    We’re in a good position but one mistake and they could cancel out our away goal advantage.

    I’d say we’re more likely to rest players for the FACup so it should be a strong team.

    My guess is MA will go with Xhaka-Ceballos-Ozil in the middle, with Torreira getting a full game on Monday.

  4. LBG says:

    Thanks Peachygirl
    Whoever MA picks they need to be up for it from minute one, believe they are good enough to dominate, and want, above all, to make us the fans leave with big smiles on our faces. COYG.

  5. Sue says:

    Nice one, Peaches! It’s stopped snowing here… still freezing though!!
    The draw is tomorrow…so a lot riding on tonight (not just the plate smashing hey, RC?!)

    Your line up looks pretty good to me, but you never know with MA…
    Be chilly at the Ems…. let’s hope the result/performance warms our cockles 😊 COYG

  6. RockyLives says:

    As has been the case since very early in the Arteteteteta era, I am excited about the upcoming game.

    In the “later Emery’ period I was starting to dread them because they were so joyless.

    Worst of all, I had started to greet bad performances and defeats with just a shrug.

    I suppose we shouldn’t get carried away just yet. I wrote a post some weeks back about how successful Emery’s start was at Arsenal and we all know what came next.

    But we were never convincing under Emery even when the results were good. And there is just something about Mikel’s demeanour that inspires more confidence…

  7. Rasp says:

    I agree rocky … if you gave me a choice between Mourinho, Moyes, Ancelotti, Pearson and Pochettino I wouldn’t want any of them. I’d take Mikel over the lot of them any day.

  8. fred1266 says:

    What 3 routes was arteta refering to

  9. fred1266 says:

    I remember my last European nice, we were 4 nil up at half time and everyone decided to leave, leak me to freeze mY ass off

  10. LBG says:

    Europa League place, 6th and downwards.
    Champions League place, top five place ( probably not first!!)
    Champions League place, win Europa League this year.

  11. fred1266 says:

    Ok LBG

    I guess I misunderstood I thought he was saying there is 3 ways we could get CL qualification

  12. RC78 says:

    I hope we can give Saka a rest…

    Leno – Sok, Mustafi, Luiz – Bello, Torreira, Douzi, AMN – Pepe, Laca, Martinelli

  13. LBG says:

    Would be very worried that that three man back line would not gel.

  14. RC78 says:

    Hi LBG, I fear the same…and just saw we have a bit of a break so we can play a back 4 and have:

    Sok, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka – Torreira, Xhaka – Pepe, Ceba, Martinelli – Laca

  15. Pete the Thirst says:

    I’m more worried about getting frostbite than losing this tie. Olympiacos looked a 2nd rate team in the first leg. I hope I don’t eat my words!



  16. Aaron says:

    Thank you for the post and on point questions.

    Mikel should take this one seriously-play the rested best!

    With RC78 on this one-put it AMN, or Eddie to start and maybe Auba on the bench for some rest to start the game. There is enough fire power up top to score goals.

    I do not envy the weather over there, but do miss out on live games!

    Was surfing with fabulous waves in sunshine, 28 C last weekend, and pinching myself if it was real.

    Team should be fired up to get another Win.

  17. LBG says:

    Why Sokratis instead of AM-N? Although, not committed 100% to Ainsley at right back, when pace is needed he has it.

  18. LBG says:

    Aaron, please please send us some good weather!! It’s been raining continuously since Christmas.

  19. Rasp says:

    I agree Saka looked tired in the last half hour against Everton,he was misplacing passes and not tracking back as well as he usually does. It would be good to have him on the bench today and only play him if necessary.

    I thought the combination of Ceballos and Ozil worked really well – but who to take out for Ceba? We need more goals from midfield to take the pressure off Aubameyang, so maybe a change of formation and swap Auba for Ceballos?

  20. Rasp says:

    On reflection, it wouldn’t surprise me to se Eddie start again in place of Aubameyang

  21. Aaron says:


    Would enjoy doing that, but then again the Arsenal seem to be enjoying that weather while winning, so we will need to hold off on that for hopefully a long while.

  22. Sue says:

    Peaches… 10 out of 11…. good job!! 👍Ceballos instead of Torreira.

  23. RockyLives says:

    Bellerin – Mustafi – Luiz – Saka
    Xhaka – Ceballos
    Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang

  24. RockyLives says:

    Martinez, Sok, Torreira, AMN, Willock, Guen, Martinelli

  25. RockyLives says:

    That looks to me pretty close to what MA thinks of as his strongest team, accounting for current injuries.

  26. RockyLives says:


    Baklava – Aristotle – Moussaka – Feta
    Demis-Roussos – Homer – Gyros
    Achilles – Alexander – Herakles

    front three look dangerous

  27. Rasp says:

    Yes agreed, this is our strongest side, certainly in an attacking sense. It makes me think that Mikel believes that winning the Europa league is the most likely route into next season‘s Champions League. It is definitely the only one of the options that he is truly in our own hands that’s for sure.

  28. RockyLives says:

    A lot of sloppy passes – come on lads.

    Nice to see Mikel blasting the hairdryer from the touch line

  29. RockyLives says:

    Ceballos and Ozil both seem to have their boots on the wrong feet.

    They’ve both been uncharacteristically poor with their first touch and their passing.

    It will come…

  30. RockyLives says:

    Hector’s having a rough night.

  31. RA says:


    You are right – Bellerin has had a nightmare.

    But he is not the only one, as you said Mesut and Ceba are wearing each other’s boots; Mustafi and Xhaka are competing to see who can kick the ball into touch the most.
    Is Auba in the team tonight?

    We are so poor I can see only one team winning tonight. Sheesh.

  32. RC78 says:

    Martinelli has to come in, no?
    I think Bello and Ozil r having torrid games and Pepe and Laca r not doing so much better

  33. Sue says:

    We’re all having a mare, RC!!!

  34. Aaron says:

    In deep S now. Need 2 goals to advance…

  35. Aaron says:

    Laca wants to play CL- well he has got to help the team get there.

  36. RockyLives says:

    Why do we bother with long range shooting?

    When was the last time we scored from a shot outside the box apart from free kicks?

  37. RockyLives says:

    Pepe is our danger man. We should give him the ball every chance we get.

  38. oz gunner says:

    How you going to have laca, auba, and pepe as a front 3 and not have 1 shot on target at home? Jesus.

  39. RockyLives says:

    Looking on the bright side… the later we leave it to score the less time they’ll have to get a tie-deciding second.

  40. oz gunner says:

    Really don’t need another 30 mins into our best team. Come on. Bring Giroud or Bendtner in for the crosses :/

  41. oz gunner says:

    great tackle!

  42. RA says:

    Bring on the unpredictable Martinelli – take off 1 of the front three.

  43. Aaron says:

    My old time emry nightmares having me become paranoid, only need 1 goal. ssssssh.

    Can do this, someone needs to step up and make a play, or better yet team goal.

    Come on Pepe.

  44. RockyLives says:

    It’s a shame it took an Olimpi goal to kick start us.

  45. Rasp says:

    There just seem to be more of them on the pitch. We’re too slow to get the ball forward. Need to take a risk in the final third

  46. RockyLives says:

    Looks like a hamstring for Mustafi, which is a shame. He’s been one of the few bright lights tonight.

  47. Rasp says:

    Agreed. I can’t help wondering if Martinelli would have been more effective than Willock.

  48. oz gunner says:


    agreed. Too tentative. No one wants to take the risk except Pepe it seems so it’s just side to side. Doesn’t help when we have zero aerial threat going forward.

    Martinelli coming on to add x-factor would be nice.

  49. Rasp says:

    Come on boys, let’s see some urgency now …

  50. Aaron says:

    Alright, let’s get this Arsenal.

    Martinelli get your head on the ball, we know you can finish.

  51. RockyLives says:

    Are we going to just not bother defending now then?

    Crazy. Better to go to pens than give up another Olimpiacos goal.

  52. RockyLives says:


    I love you Auba!!!

  53. oz gunner says:

    latest offside call in the history of football…

  54. oz gunner says:

    oh shit. Just saw Rocky’s post…

    my stream is 3 mins late 🙂

    beautiful. Give him all the money in the world!

  55. Aaron says:

    Auba with a STRIKE!
    Onwards to the next round.

  56. Rasp says:

    Must must must concentrate and play with our heads now ….

  57. Sue says:

    Thank you, Auba!!! Now give him whatever he wants haha!!!

  58. Aaron says:

    No, gd. unreal….

  59. oz gunner says:

    idiots. stupid idiots. Leno WTF.

  60. RockyLives says:

    I’m sorry… I’d drop Leno for ever for that.

    What a muppet.

  61. Aaron says:

    This is going to hurt for sure.
    Only way now is league….

  62. RA says:


    That was Xhaka passing back to Leno unnecessarily when upfield was the play!!

  63. Aaron says:

    The D let’s us down again, and Leno for no control in the box!!!

  64. oz gunner says:

    omg…how did he miss that…

  65. RockyLives says:

    Well, to be honest we didn’t deserve it on the night. Not a good enough effort all round.

    But there were always going to be backwards steps in building the new Arteta Arsenal and we just have to take it on the chin and get on with doing as well as we can in the league.

    Oh, and win the FA Cup.

  66. Sue says:

    We’re just not meant to win owt in Europe, are we?? Gutted……

  67. RockyLives says:


    Even so, Leno overplayed it when a hoof up field was what was required.

    Beyond stupid.

  68. oz gunner says:

    All week the talk has been playing Leno when it matters etc. Then that stupid touch and corner. Can’t defend set pieces or crosses to save our lives – story for about 15 years.

    That stings. Extra 30 mins so players are stuffed and we take a massive hit confidence wise. Not even mentioning CL qualification.

    Fill the room with uppercuts Arteta.

  69. Aaron says:

    Mikel can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Mustafi goes out and somehow the defense gets worse, can’t make the stuff up.


    This weekend the team better lift up and win the remaining games.

  70. fatgingergooner says:

    Dreadful from Leno but ultimately a massive lack of respect from our players. Thought they could just turn up, pop it around, and go through. Even at 1-1 they celebrated like it was over and just went back to knocking around and ultimately that’s why the ball was even at Leno’s feet in the first place. Not good enough and Arteta will have a hell of a job on keeping the likes of Auba anywhere near this club without CL football next season. I wouldn’t blame him for leaving given his record means nothing when we throw away goals at set pieces and crosses like we do. Rubbish.

  71. RC78 says:

    Leno is really an odd ball…good on his line, but so many stupid mistakes with his passing…

    Well, if you recall the prematch for the first game… I told you Cisse, Valbuena and El Arabi and there you go… 😥

    Leno at fault for conceding a stupid corner but where is Sokratis?

    Leno – 3
    Bello – 2
    Mustafi – 5
    Luiz – 4
    Saka – 5
    Ceba – 5
    Xhaka – 4 for that last pass
    Ozil – 5
    Pepe – 4
    Laca – 3
    Auba – 8 (shame bout the last shot)

    Sok – 2
    Martinelli – 4
    Torreira – 4


  72. oz gunner says:

    @ RA

    oh I agree Xhaka bears some of the burden. All game there was some iffy back passes but Leno when it counted…

    Arsenal under pressure defensively is a nightmare situation and we shot ourselves in the foot again.

    Sometimes I wonder if they intentionally want to test themselves to show character…actually no I don’t because I know they go to water in these situations far too often.

  73. oz gunner says:

    That replay…

    pathetic by Luiz. Didn’t want to risk the own goal so left it on a plate for him.

    Expect far better from an experienced defender.

  74. Anyone fancy writing about that pile of poo for tomorrow?

  75. RC78 says:

    Enjoy Auba while you can
    He should go to Barcelona or Juve or Real for 60 Mln. Job done.

    We still don’t have a good GK since Lehmann, it s crazy.

  76. fatgingergooner says:

    The attacking players were no better. 2 hours of football and hardly created a clear opening. Not all on Leno. The whole team was awful and the way we stroked the ball around slowly was not good enough. I can think of only one time where we picked up the pace and passed accurately and it ended with a disallowed goal for offside. Everything else was at walking pace.

  77. fatgingergooner says:

    I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked by this teams lack of application. I think we all know that it’s not just poor management that has got us in this situation. The players have been doing this for a few years now and just when you start to get a little bit of trust in them again they decide to throw in a performance like that. Arteta can only do so much with certain players in this squad. The ones that constantly let you down are the ones that are well over 25 and therefore are not going to suddenly improve. He’s done well to get them in to some sort of cohesive unit in the short time he’s been at the club and maybe tonight he will have learned far more about his players than in previous games. This result is a bit of a kick in the teeth but maybe in the long run it will prove an important moment in Arteta’ Arsenal reign. If he and the club can be ruthless then maybe this is the game that makes their minds up on certain individuals and hopefully they can get rid and improve the squad. We have some fantastic young talent in the team and I think the club need to go ‘all in’ on them rather than risk losing them. If Saka wants to play on the wing then make it happen. Get Willock and Martinelli in the side in their desired positions. If that puts Laca and Özil on the bench then so be it. No point pandering to these players who are most likely going to run down their contracts anyway. The season is done now so let’s just plan for the long term and give those that are going to be the future the chance to play.

  78. oz gunner says:

    @ FFG

    Agreed about the attacking players. Felt like 90 mins of Xhaka to Luiz to ozil to Xhaka to Mustafi to luiz. Forwards not presenting and creating options. Midfielders too gutless to make things happen and take the game on.

    No wonder why Saka and martinelli have been a breathe of fresh air…they actually want to drive us forward.

    Not sure whether Pepe was holding the ball for too long or if laca, bellerin, and ozil just weren’t working for him. May have been both.

  79. Gööner In Exile says:

    I found that a very frustrating watch last night for the whole game. The result and the defending are obvious issues. But for me the biggest concern was the delay on decisions to play forward.

    Prime example Xhaka to Saka, that pass was on earlier Xhaka took another touch before deciding it was on Saka was then offside and what should have been a 1-0 lead was chalked off.

    Pepe was also guilty repeatedly tonight of taking too long on the ball when a simple pass was on or a more attacking pass was on.

    You can see others get frustrated with the slow delivery and then runs stop being made, and then we are trying to breakdown a packed defence with a static front line.

  80. RC78 says:

    Peaches I sent you smt

  81. Morning all

    There’s a New Post …………

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: