Two weeks ago we went to Dortmund in our Champions League opener for the season and we came away with a very hard earned point.
The result was a little bit disappointing – we held on so well and for so long only to concede right at the end. It’s too early to judge how useful that point will be but as Arsene always says in the group stages it is all about winning all our home ties and getting something away from home.
Tonight’s side will be very different from the one that started in Germany, Koscielny, Walcott, Benayoun and Gervinho are all missing through injury. Djourou is also on the injury list, which again seems to be getting longer by the day – nine is the last count! Miquel pulled out of the reserve fixture on Monday, it is looking very likely that Song will play alongside Mertesacker.
We are joint second in our group with Dortmund and Marseille lead the way after beating Olympiakos on match day one.
Tonight we welcome back Champions League action on match day two, with Olympiakos rolling into town and the last time we met was in the group stages in 2009. We won the home leg 2-0 but lost the away tie 1-0 when we fielded a largely youthful side with Bartley and Ramsey impressing on the night.
Having lost their opening tie in the CL this season Olympiakos will be looking to gain at least a point tonight but they will have their work cut out. They have never gained a single point in England and have only scored a single goal in the process. This goal was scored by Rivaldo at Anfield in 2004/2005 but sparked a comeback from Liverpool who eventually won the CL that season in Istanbul.
We on the other hand have made the Emirates a fortress in Europe. Since we started playing at the Emirates we have only lost once against Manchester United in the semi finals of the CL in 2008/2009 season. What makes this record even more commendable is the fact that both AC Milan and Barcelona failed to beat us when they were the defending European Champions at the Emirates.
Olympiacos play with a 4-5-1 formation which means they will set out to stifle us any space to play in. They will be led at the back by former Aston villa player Olof Mellberg. We must build on our 2nd half performance against Bolton if we are to win comfortably tonight.
We should burn them with raw pace, even without Theo as most European defenders have shown their vulnerability to it. I expect both Arshavin and Rosicky to start and hopefully they will impress, as should Arteta who now has a CL match under his belt.
Right now it’s all about creating momentum with our relatively new side, a good win tonight will give just a little more belief heading into the weekend.
Arsene Wenger will celebrate his 15th anniversary at the club this week and let’s hope we beat both Olympiakos and the Scum down the road in convincing fashion.