It may be just Matchday Two, but Arsene Wenger has described Arsenal’s Champions League game at home to Olympiakos on Tuesday as a must-win. Arsenal began their group stage campaign with a disappointing 2-1 loss at Dinamo Zagreb two weeks ago. And ahead of home and away meetings with Bayern Munich, Wenger believes it is crucial that his team take all three points when the Greek champions visit the Emirates Stadium.
“You have to win your home games if you want to qualify from the group stage, it’s as simple as that,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “We cannot afford to drop points now against anybody at home.”
Wenger received criticism for making several changes to his lineup for the match in Croatia ahead of a Premier League meeting with Chelsea. Yet, despite having a heavyweight clash with Manchester United on Sunday, the Arsenal manager has insisted he won’t be looking ahead when naming his team on Tuesday night.
“Not at all,” he said. “The team selection will not be influenced we play on Tuesday night we play against Manchester United on Sunday. Five days is not a problem, it’s more what happened before.”
Arsenal have bounced back from successive defeats to Dinamo and Chelsea by progressing past north London rivals Tottenham in the Capital One Cup and on Saturday beating high-flying Leicester City 5-2 in the Premier League. The impressive win was made all the sweeter by the fact that their star man of last season, Alexis Sánchez, got his first goals of this campaign with a hat-trick.
Arsenal could also have Francis Coquelin back from a knee injury, although reserve defensive midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are now ruled out. Striker Olivier Giroud will also be absent after being sent off against Dinamo Zagreb.
Olympiakos have begun their Greek Super League title defense with five straight victories, but they were beaten 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich to start the Champions League. And their record in England doesn’t provide much room for optimism. In 12 previous visits they have yet to emerge with anything other than a defeat, including on three trips to Arsenal in the past six seasons. Still, coach Marco Silva has insisted his team believe they can change that dismal record on Tuesday.
“We never start the game thinking it is impossible to get a result, we never think that way,” he said, according to Uefa.com. “We know it is a difficult game but it is a difficult competition. We know how big a team Arsenal are but we believe in our abilities. We are ready. Against Bayern we played well and we were competitive but the result didn't reflect that.
“If you asked who would be the top two teams in the group, most would say Arsenal and Bayern, but football is not always like this; there is no rule that says all favorites win their games. Zagreb's result against Arsenal has made things more difficult for us, though.”
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: Fox Sports 2