LIVE Arsenal vs Olympiakos: Coverage of the Champions League Match

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Arsenal are riding a pair of positive results as they host Greek club Olympiakos at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday in Champions League group play action.

Manager Arsene Wenger has been subject to a great deal of criticism in the past two months, but it now seems that the long-time Gunners boss has survived calls for being sacked, and has Arsenal riding momentum heading into their second Champions League match, after a 1-1 result with Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, but two victories over Shrewsbury and Bolton.

Wenger remains burdened with an injury-plagued squad. Arsenal will be without wingers Theo Walcott (knee) and Gervinho (hamstring), as well as centre back Laurent Koscielny (ankle) on Wednesday, who make up just the newest collection of hurt Gunners.

This is nothing new for Wenger, who will also be without three other centre backs: Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci. Midfielders Yossi Benayoun, Abou Diaby, along with Jack Wilshere, who may be out until February, are also inactive for the Olympiakos match.

The cascade of injuries means Arsenal will have to rely even more heavily on Robin van Persie, who has been involved in press reports of contract problems even though his contract isn't up for another two years. For Arsenal, even players with two years left on their contract are under a pointless cloud of uncertainty by the press.

Wenger will need Mikel Arteta and Andrei Arshavin to step up in the absence of Walcott and Gervinho. It would be interesting to see if Wenger chooses Chu Young Park to receive his first high-profile start of his Arsenal career.

But the real problem for Arsenal will be in central defense. Without three regulars, Per Mertesacker will have a great deal of responsibility as the lone true centre back as defensive midfielder Alex Song will likely have to move back to fill in for Vermaelen.

Olympiakos enter Wednesday's match without even earning a draw in England and having scored only one goal. The famed Greek club will surely be playing for a draw, and have the defenders that might be able to thwart the Arsenal attack. Olympiakos lost to Marseille at home in their lone Champions League match, but have won their only two Greek League matches, though they will look to a trio of defenders at Emirates.

The club has a pair of solid 26-year-old defenders in Vasilis Torosidis and Avraam Papadopoulos, and former Aston Villa and Juventus centre back Olof Mellberg, to hold off van Persie.

Young Belgian striker Kevin Mirallas is considered the lone scoring threat for head coach Ernesto Valverde's squad. However, veteran attacking midfielder David Fuster has played in La Liga for Villarreal, so he is accustomed to playing strong competition, and figures to play an important role on Wednesday.

Arsenal are not in the position to be over-confident for their home match given their history and their numerous injured players.

I have a lot of respect for Olympiakos, said Wenger. In the Champions League you never win easily. If we have not learned that after 14 years in the competition we are really stupid.

 

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