Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 3/4
Desperate to pick up an early advantage on foreign soil this week, Arsenal will make the trip out to Greece when they face off against Olympiacos on Thursday night.
Starting with the hosts, picking up what was a routine 3-0 win against Lamia on domestic duties last weekend, it is no secret that Olympiacos have their full attention on European success this season. Still holding a 16-point buffer at the top of the Super League and long since wrapping up their second domestic crown on the bounce, the Greek giants also managed to scrape their way through to the quarter-finals of this year’s Europa League. While Pedro Martins’ men might have seen Dutch outfit PSV secure a 2-1 victory a fortnight ago, their dramatic 4-2 at The Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki in the firs-leg was enough to book Thursday’s showdown against the Gunners. Showing a host of European issues after crashing out of the Champions League during the group stage, Olympiacos will be hoping to cause an upset similar to last season’s dramatic contest in North London. Making the trip to the Emirates 13 months ago, Martins’ men snatched a last-minute winner in extra-time to knock Arsenal out and book their spot in the quarter-finals.
Along with both Ruben Semedo and Avraam Papadopoulos missing out on Thursday night, Olympiacos also look set to be without fellow defender Ousseynou Ba.
Despite nursing a shoulder injury, former Arsenal star Sokratis has been given the green light to start.
As for the visitors, eventually having to settle for what was a hugely-controversial 1-1 draw away at Turf Moor last weekend, Arsenal still have the feel of a side seeking some stability. With the Gunners still flirting with mid-table in the Premier League, many feel that Mikel Arteta could have European success as their number one focus this year. Hoping to refind a similar level that saw them pick up an eye-catching 3-1 win away at Champions League chasers Leicester earlier in the month, Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man has seen his side win a trio of their last nine matchups across all formats. If Arsenal are to avoid history repeating itself against their Greek opponents, then Arteta will be desperate for his side to show a similar level of resolve that they displayed against Benfica a fortnight ago. Coming from 2-1 down in the most shocking of fashion, the Gunners snatched a last-gasp 3-2 victory at Thursday’s venue and they’re unbeaten in each of their eight Europa League contests this season, winning seven of those appearances.
Playmaker Emile Smith Rowe looks set to once again miss out in Greece due to a hip issue.
With a full squad to choose from other than Smith-Rowe, the likes of defender Gabriel Magalhaes are pushing for a recall.
Key Factors to Consider
- The previous UEFA Europa League fixture between the teams saw Olympiakos triumph 2-1 at Emirates Stadium last season.
- However, Arsenal are unbeaten in all eight of their European matchups this season, winning seven of those contests.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has six goals in as many appearances across all formats.
- Olympiacos are unbeaten in each of their last 10 straight matchups on home soil, winning nine of those contests.
- Seven of Olympiacos’ last eight matchups across all formats has finished with both teams finding the net.
While Arsenal might have just about managed to scrape their way past Benfica a fortnight ago, the Gunners have shown some recent issues with their consistency. Eventually having to settle for a point against Burnely over the weekend thanks to a 1-1 draw on the road, we are expecting what could be another lively affair at both ends of the pitch on Thursday night. With the midweek opponents really putting on an action-packed display when they faced off in North London 13 months ago, neutrals will be hoping for a similar meeting at The Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki. With Olympiacos also managing to just come past PSV thanks to a dramatic 5-4 aggregate win, chances could come thick and fast on Thursday. With seven of Olympiacos’ last eight matchups across all formats finishing with both teams finding the net, we’re backing a similar outcome out in Greece.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 3/4
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!