Arsenal stand a good chance of continuing their promising run of form under Mikel Arteta and securing a Europa League last 16 spot against Olympiacos on Thursday night, having established a 1-0 aggregate lead away in Piraeus.
The Gunners will be confident of progressing against a side who have lost their last four European away games, as they aim for a successful Europa League campaign after losing to Chelsea in last season’s final.
Alexandre Lacazette’s second goal in as many games after a nine-game drought was the focal point of last week’s win, as he latched on to Bukayo Saka’s excellent cross to give Arsenal a hard-earned advantage going into Thursday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium.
While Olympiacos threatened Bernd Leno’s goal on a number of occasions, with Mathieu Valbuena looking especially lively in the early exchanges, they will need a much improved performance to get anything out of their trip to London.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Thursday 27 February|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is It Played?||Emirates Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 3|
|Who is the Referee?||Davide Massa|
Arsenal will be without a number of long-term absentees, including Calum Chambers, who is sidelined for the season after undergoing knee surgery, and Kieran Tierney, who continues to recover from a dislocated shoulder. Meanwhile, new signing Cédric Soares has yet to make his debut in north London after picking up a knee injury in January.
After making the bench for Sunday’s thrilling 3-2 victory against Everton, Reiss Nelson could make a return for the Gunners in some capacity after picking up a hamstring injury against Sheffield United last month, while Pablo Marí could also feature after travelling to Greece for the first leg.
Sead Kolašinac was assessed for a shoulder injury today after the Everton game and may also be added to Arsenal’s growing injury list, but Sokratis should play some part after bouncing back from a minor injury to make the bench on Sunday.
Olympiacos are largely injury-free, with only Hillel Soudani ruled out of Thursday’s action, while neither side currently have any players suspended.
|Arsenal||Leno; Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mustafi, Saka; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Martinelli, Willock, Pépé; Lacazette|
|Olympiacos||Sá; Tsimikas, Ba, Semedo, Elabdellaoui; Fortounis, Bouchalakis, Camara; Valbuena, El-Arabi, Masouras|
However, that 3-2 victory remains the only win that Olympiacos have managed on the road against Arsenal, and having failed to display the same fortitude at home which held Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham to a 2-2 draw earlier this season, Olympiacos won’t be fancied to take their place in the next round of the competition.
Arsenal are now unbeaten in all ten of the games that they have played in 2020, with Sunday’s victory against Everton their third victory in a row after a run of four successive Premier League draws.
35 - There were 35 passes in the build-up for Mesut Özil's goal vs Newcastle, making it 10 passes longer than any goal scored in the Premier League this season, with all 11 @Arsenal players involved at least once. Mikel. pic.twitter.com/9p2I09HMJP— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 16, 2020
Olympiacos meanwhile bounced back from Thursday’s defeat with a 1-0 away win at title rivals PAOK to stretch their lead at the top of the Super League to five points. Their loss to Arsenal was their first in any competition since Tottenham came back to beat them 4-2 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November.
Here's how the two sides have got on in their last five fixtures.
|Arsenal 3-2 Everton (23/02)||PAOK 0-1 Olympiacos (23/02)|
|Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal (20/02)||Olympiacos 0-1 Arsenal (20/02)|
|Arsenal 4-0 Newcastle (16/02)||Olympiacos 4-0 Panionios (15/02)|
|Burnley 0-0 Arsenal (02/02)||Olympiacos 3-2 Lamia (12/02)|
|Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal (27/01)||Atromitos 0-1 Olympiacos (09/02)|
Arsenal are starting to find their rhythm after Arteta’s reign began with a number of frustrating results.
Their revamped attack are starting to look seriously clinical in front of goal, and despite Arteta not quite ridding his defence of individual moments of madness, they have looked a much more solid outfit when defending leads in European competition.
Though Olympiacos’ front three can play with fantastic intensity when they get going, they have been weakened by the loss of Daniel Podence to Wolves, and a controlled Arsenal performance seems the likeliest outcome.