Olympiakos v Arsenal Preview/ Line-up: No Ozil but two Youngsters are chomping at the bit

Arsenal v Olympiakos – February 20, 2020

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Founded on 10 March 1925, Olympiakos is the most successful club in Greek football history, having won 44 League titles, 27 Cups (17 Doubles) and 4 Super Cups, all records. Totalling 75 national trophies, Olympiakos is 9th in the world in total titles won by a football club. The club’s dominating success can be further evidenced by the fact that all other Greek clubs have won a combined total of 39 League titles, while Olympiakos also holds the record for the most consecutive Greek League titles won, with seven in a row in two occasions (1997–2003 and 2011–2017), breaking their own previous record of six consecutive wins in the 1950s (1954–1959), when Olympiakos was unequivocally nicknamed Thrylos (Greek: Θρύλος, “The Legend”).

Having won the 2014–15 league title, Olympiakos became the only football club in the world to have won a series of five or more consecutive championships for five times in their history, a record that was praised by FIFA with a congratulatory letter of its president, Sepp Blatter. They are also the only Greek club to have won five consecutive national Cups (1957–1961), as well as six League titles undefeated (1937, 1938, 1948, 1951, 1954, 1955). Olympiakos are one of only three clubs to have never been relegated from the top flight of Greek football, and by winning the 2012–13 title, their 40th in total, they added a fourth star above their crest, each one representing 10 League titles.

Olympiakos fans are renowned for their passionate and fervent support to the team, with the atmosphere at home matches regarded as intimidating. When they played Newcastle United at home in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, the match was televised in the United Kingdom on Channel 5 and the guest commentator was former England international Tony Cottee, who was constantly mentioning how great the atmosphere was. During the game he was asked whether it was the most atmospheric stadium he had been to and replied: “I’d have to say it probably is. You hear a lot about various places and the atmosphere there but when you go you realise it’s not all that… But this place is the real deal.” The experienced Czech international winger Jaroslav Plašil paid further testament to the hostile atmosphere created by Olympiakos fans at home before his team Bordeaux visit the Karaiskakis Stadium, where he had played during his time with Monaco and stated, “It was one of the most intense atmospheres I’ve ever experienced in a stadium, so I expect it will be a bit like hell for us. Their supporters really can help their team.” Former Paris Saint-Germain superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimović spoke of his admiration for Olympiacos supporters after an Olympiakos–Paris Saint-Germain match on 17 September 2013: “They played in front of their fantastic public. Olympiakos supporters were amazing. My friend Olof Mellberg played here and he talked to me about the supporters. I never saw it live, but now I understand. It’s amazing. It’s a big advantage for Olympiakos.” PSG billionaire owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi stated, “I have big respect for the fans here. I’ve never seen fans like Olympiakos’ fans in my life. “PSG and Brazil international winger Lucas Moura in an interview with goal.com stated that Olympiakos home ground was the most intense and heated stadium he’s ever played in.

We are all square having won four game and lost four, as mentioned the Olympiakos fans are among the most intimidating in the World so this will be a very difficult game.

Arsenal v Olympiakos – Champions League
29-Sep-09 Arsenal v Olympiakos W 2 0 CL
09-Dec-09 Olympiakos v Arsenal L 1 0 CL
28-Sep-11 Arsenal v Olympiakos W 2 1 CL
06-Dec-11 Olympiakos v Arsenal L 3 1 CL
03-Oct-12 Arsenal v Olympiakos W 3 1 CL
04-Dec-12 Olympiakos v Arsenal L 2 1 CL
29-Sep-15 Arsenal v Olympiakos L 2 3 CL
09-Dec-15 Olympiakos v Arsenal W 0 3 CL

By GunnerN5

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TA’s Predicted Preferred Line-Up (probably not far from actual line-up, I reckon):

Ozil stayed back and Arteta will have to keep a few players fit for the Sunday game v the Toffees. So I expect Big Sok to come in for Mustafi (who would deny him a home coming?!). I expect starts for Martinelli and Willock and Auba or Laca up-front. I went for Auba as we just need his cool-blooded finishing in the Greek cauldron tomorrow. Xhaka-Torro axis is essential too, I reckon.

28 thoughts on “Olympiakos v Arsenal Preview/ Line-up: No Ozil but two Youngsters are chomping at the bit

  • Fine write up there, GN5; so kind of you to put that up too. As always, it is a study in how to set things up with a bit of the opposition’s history; and boy, clearly, this is no ordinary club we shall be playing against tomorrow. Olympiakos are special! We would have to go there, shut out the noise and just focus on getting the early goal.

    If I recall rightly, we always seemed to play them in the champions league group stage in dead rubbers (bar one encounter), where the results won’t deny us a place in the knockout stages; we have that as an excuse for those losses shown away to them. 😀

    I like the line up but feel Arteta will start with Kolasinac for this one, while it was said that Torreira has not travelled, so it’s looking like Guendouzi features. Lacazette should have a place on the starting 11 unless Arteta wants to take another look at Nketiah (who needs a goal now). It is the knock out stage and another route into the CL so expect us to take this one seriously.

  • Gn5. Brilliant piece of history and prematch information.

    TA, i for one wants Kola and Saka on the left side, and Martinelli up top. On the right is Bells and Pepe. In midfield i will play Ceballos again, and Douzi can play in the Ozil position.

  • N5, another great job. Thats one hell of a cauldron. But Marti is neve fazed. Neither Guendz. Neither Willock. AMN knows how to rise to the occasions. With Olympiacos’ expansive football, Pepe, another young one would be at his element. All the others are old hands. Karaiskakis here we come.

    Arteta has the toughest job picking the team to face Olympiacos at away. The Europa League looks a more realistic route to the Champions League, or does it? Knockout competitions can always turn on a penny. At these stages of the 2 competitions (EL and PL) it’s still best going full throttle on both. But then there’s the Thursday/Sunday schedules to deal with.

    Clearly Arteta does not like chopping and changing his team. He wants his team achieve automatism. Yet he can’t afford having the same players do 3 matches in 7 days. Apart from automatism, his luck is that he has good cover nearly all positions:
    Martinez for Leno,
    AMN for Bellerin,
    Sok for Musti,
    Pablo for Luiz,
    Kola for Saka,
    Torreira for Ceb
    Guendz for Xhaka
    Nelson for Pepe
    Willock for Ozil
    Marti for Auba
    Laca for Nketiah.

    Arteta is a thinker. It would be interesting seeing the team he sends out tonight. Difficult to predict but his logic would be understood.

    Arteta has decided the team would spend Friday night at Athens. It is a plan I agree with; having a good Friday night sleep and travelling the next day would be the least disruptive to their getting ready for the PL Sunday encounter with Everton. It comfirms he has an eye on the Everton match.

    TA, that’s a good team you have. Torreira has not travelled and Guendz might take his place. I also feel that it would be Kola for Saka and Laca for Auba.

    I predict 7 changes:


  • Why combine Kola and Saka, 84? Neither is a pure defender and Saka can do what Kola does but then better? I think Saka is our nr1 wingback now.

  • Nice job GN5, and likely line-up from TA.

    I admit I have low probability – hence high odds – at the bookies, but here is my line-up with 11 changes from the Newcastle starting XI:
    ——————Martinez————— (come on, that is almost 100%)

    Apart from I don’t expect Mari to start yet, this is a realistic line-up, and not a weak one either.

  • Cheers GN5, Olympiakos is some club and imagine playing in the land of the Olympics Games, Socrates/Aristotle and fabulous mythology? The Greeks are passionate about the beautiful game but in Europe they always seem to underperform albeit it mostly away from home. We will need to be ready and have experienced players on the pitch to deal with the cauldronic atmosphere tonight.

  • PE, if Torreira was indeed left home then you could be right with that midfield pairing. But Guendo has fallen out with Arteta and usually that means not a quick return to the team. Maybe we see an AMN/Xhaka midfield tonight?

  • TA, both of them can combine to both defend and attack the left flank. This reduces the need for Xhaka to move to the left and allowing him to protect the back 4 in the middle of the pitch

  • I agree that my approach is below full strength, but Arsenal go to Burnley on Sunday, so it could make sense to rotate – and give minutes to players that might not play in the (semi-)final of the EL or the FA Cup. And a Leno-Martinez, a Pepe-Nelson or a Saka-Kolasinac switch is not such a clear downgrade, but a Luiz-Mari or an Auba-Laca might be…

  • PB…. we have been to Burnley earlier in the month!! 😀

    Everton at home on Sunday.

    I think we will see Xhaka-Ceballos-Willock in midfield. Auba – Laca – Pepe upfront with maybe Martinelli starting instead of one of them. Strong team is a must imo.

  • True, I looked the penultimate game, not the one following the EL-match. 🙂
    Anyway Everton – even at home – is not a walk in the park.
    I am looking for a strong team, but I believe, most line-ups are quite strong under Arteta. Still, Martinez should start, and I expect Martinelli and/or Guendouzi. But from effectiveness point of view I’m much more interested in a Xhaka-Ceballos-Willock midfield (with a late Guendouzi cameo) than a Matteo-Ainsley CM partnership.

  • Morning all, it a chilly morning here -14c and snowing, and I have to venture outside. The bright side is that this is quite normal for this time of year and we know how to dress for the occasion.

    Thank you for the comments.

  • Hi fellas… Excellent preview GN5, with the quotes about the atmosphere helping to evoke things nicely. Of course, I wish you the best with your health issues, but maybe doing the previews is a nice break from (thinking about) them… We’re all pulling for you, I’m sure…

    While it’s listed in the table of matches we’ve played, I think the most recent one, which we won 3-nil (in their stadium) deserves a bit more attention. It was over 4 years ago, but we were able to go their place and win a match (by a 2+ goal margin, which, in fact, was a necessity for advancing to the CL elims). It was an Olivier Giroud hat-trick with assists from Aaron Ramsey, Joel Campbell and Nacho Monreal (who won a penalty).

    For me, after the (fan-led?) dismantling of Arsene Wenger’s leadership (along with his teams/players), I want to start seeing–at some point in the not-so-distant future–that we’re getting back to being the sort of club that can handle an away match against clubs which dominate their domestic leagues. Frankly, I think we’re a long way off, but a solid win (or maybe even a score draw) would show that we’re heading in the right direction. An away goal (or two) would set us up nicely for the return leg.

    As such, I think Arteta has to play a very strong team (and also has to think about defending as our first priority). PE writes it up quite nicely (above) and we should have good strength in depth to begin rotating for these extra matches. What’s the fitness news?… I think certain players might really like having the enhanced protection (maybe?) from the European refs… Also, what’s the yellow card situation, or does that go back to zero for the elims?…

    We want to keep some players fresh for PL play but, from what I’ve gleaned about the ManCity situation, I’m not (totally) sure that they cannot appeal the UEFA ban and slow the process down for at least next season. In other words, it still may be the top 4 (trophy?) we would have to get up for… (Amazingly, I believe, in all the comments in recent threads that I’ve seen on this site, no one has mentioned the City ban… To me, if it stands, the end of the world–or at least a sense of fair-play in sports if not politics and economics or criminal justice–might be just pushed a hair further into the future… In fact, it was my wife who first told me the news, which I think could have some significance. Probably not for Arsenal this season, but maybe in the longer term…)

    Anyhow, I’ll be blacked out for this one, but I think it’s a big one. Any close watching descriptions would be much appreciated… (Go on then… 😉 …) Thanks in advance…

  • Seeing this lineup on Google’s match tracker:


  • Then this may be of interest to you HT–
    Been looking for a spot to post this– something I’d located at Forbes.com:
    * * *
    At present for Arsenal– one of the more interesting– and tantalizing aspects of this PL season– is the possibility of an extra place coming available in the CL. This due to Manchester City– basically having been found guilty of contractual fraud as a willing signatory to UEFA’s rulings as a governing body.

    Many don’t believe the ruling will hold up. But this explanation from Forbes.com– to me? Means that it likely will. And if City have continued to misbehave financially after the 2012-2016 period– it could lay the club to ruin in short order.

    An excerpt I thought went to the heart of the matter– which goes against the public perception that City will/might overcome the ban. This is a tweet from an attorney (caveat: I work with lawyers)– which sounds to me like the foundation of UEFA’s case:

    I’m probably the only lawyer in this thread-don’t bother arguing this out. UEFA is a contract system,a federation associations which are also basically contractual entities (though with some statutory powers and restrictions). UEFA procedures aren’t governed by admin/criminal law

    6:47 AM – Feb 15, 2020 · Warsaw, Poland

    * * *
    Link to the Forbes article


  • Thanks in advance…for nothing… 😉

    Anybody watching the match? Anybody got anything to say here at half-time?… Following the Arseblog, it sounds like we had some dicey moments early but came back into the match with Lacazette missing a sitter in the 20th minute…

    Anyhow, we’ll see…about this match…

    (And about ManCity… J-Dub, I didn’t say that ManCity might not be in trouble, but that it could take some time… Maybe about the same amount of–time already served?–for Roger Stone, before King Donald pardons him–if he loses to ??? Whom did you pick, Joltin’ Joe?… And, speaking of sports and teams that don’t quite play by the rules… No, I actually don’t want to go there… 😉 😦 …)

  • HT – those first halves of ours are starting to really worry me
    how can we not trample under foot this kind of oppponents – beats me, really
    i felt for blameless emi when i saw the team selection, but leno saved our a…s at the start of the game
    shkodran’s a reborn player; he might have gone back to the level that made him a 2014 world champion – well done, mikel
    other than that:
    auba’s a lost soul on his wing
    for the first time in his arsenal career, gabe looks like he’s feeling under the weather
    some of joe’s touches are very poor, he can do much better than that
    laca should have put away the opportunity he had at the start – hope that won’t hurt his fragile confidence
    matteo’s not bad, but dani’s performance last sunday was something else
    actually, dani’s and mesut”s combined absences seem to be hurting us a lot, creativity-wise
    come on, lads, let’s keep on being the kings of second halves, at least

  • Excellent comments LG… Keep ’em coming… (please)

    Arseblog reported (very early on) that Sok was playing at RB with PEA as the wide attacker ahead of him. To me, that sounds nutty… And also a bit shocking that Arteta feels he can’t mess with his central defensive 3 (Leno, Luiz and Mustafi)… On the other hand, that The Skhrot is one of the 3 (in a tough away stadium) seems equally (but perhaps positively) shocking. Arteta doesn’t seem averse to making some unconventional decisions, esp. compared to Emery (who seemed always keen on passing responsibility/blame to others)… Seems end of the line (at Arsenal) for AMN if he can’t get a start at RB, however… Kolasinac, too, probably…

  • well, job done, i guess
    we were better after gabe/joe were taken out, and dani/pépé brought in
    one more clean sheet – feels good, we can thank our german wall, we do have two great keepers
    laca bagged another one – sure needs that; it was a tap-in, but i found his move around the CB very clever, natural, as though CF sensations were felt again – having said that some of his choicces were poor, which is always surprising coming from players with a big “football brain” like him
    bukayo’s assist was delightful: i, for one, have definitively run out of superlatives for the lad; please arsenal board make him sign a lifelong deal
    looks like we’re through to the next round, i was disappointed by olympiacos; i saw paok against ajax last summer (i wanted to check how akpom was doing – he scored that day), and they made me a much better impression, and since olympiacos are the leader of the greek pack, i expected them to put up a fight, but they looked like a bottom-tier ligue 1 team to me – which is why i would have liked us to put’em to the sword quickly, and be done with it
    at least we’re buliding up confidence, hope it’ll show against the toffees

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