Tonight’s game against Olympiakos, in the boiling and hissing cauldron that is the Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, is the perfect opportunity for both our up and coming talents and the players who find themselves at the periphery of the team, to show us what they (still) have got to offer to us.
When Arsenal are going through a tough time many fans vent their frustrations by having a go at all those players who appear to earn vast sums of money but seldom play for the first team. Some of those players are likely to get a (last?) chance tonight to show us what they could still mean for the team: Rosicky, Squillaci, Arshavin and Chamakh are all in the squad to face the Athenians tonight.
Arsene has also selected a number of players who have played plenty of first team games already this season, and I guess they will form the solid frame for today’s line up: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Ramsey and Gervinho.
I am a bit disappointed that we are not going to see the likes of Gnabry, Eisfeld and Yennaris tonight as these are the youngsters who appear to be closest to more regular involvement in our first team squad at the moment. I read somewhere that they are not part of Arsenal’s official CL squad and therefore not eligible unfortunately.
Instead, Arsene has included into his squad the youngsters Angha (defender), Ansah (attacker), Akpom (attacker), Hajrovic (defender), Meade (left midfield/ left back), Monteiro (defender) and Shea (goalkeeper). I have seen a bit of Angha, Shea and Meade but the others are not very familiar to me.
Arsenal Squad for tonight’s game: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Squillaci, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Chamakh, Angha, Ansah, Hajrovic, Meade, Monteiro, Shea, Akpom.
What is there to say about this game from a tactical perspective? We know the Greek Champions are the dominant team in Greece and although they have already qualified for the UEFA cup, they will be well up for this in front of their passionate home crowd. For every win there is also a hefty CL bonus, which provides another reason to take this game seriously.
I expect Olympiakos once again to pass the ball round a lot, be very well organised and play as a strong unit – allowing us little space and time to settle on the ball: nothing new there.
Who knows how Arsenal are going to line-up tonight, and whether we will be able to out-battle the Greeks? Going on previous experiences, we should not expect too much, but from the available squad we should be able to select a decent enough team to at least have a go.
Jenkinson – Angha – Vermaelen – Meade
I don’t care very much whether we win or even whether we finish first or second in our group; what I do care about is that the players go out there and put in their best performance, that they play with pride for the shirt, and some lovely football in the process.