Morning guys. Probably just a short blog today ahead of the match. I talked quite a bit about this match yesterday, especially about Olympiacos, and you can read that entry below. A few things I'd like to get to before kickoff though, so I'll get right to it.
Disappointing reports about Abu Diaby who is in line to miss about three weeks of action with a thigh injury. What can we say, other than we probably shouldn't be too surprised by this. I feel terrible for him, especially after having a pretty nice start to the season, and let's hope this is just a minor hitch. I suspect he would have started today's match had he been fit, so it effects us directly and immediately. Fortunately for Arsenal we have some options in midfield, and we shouldn't suffer too badly over his absence, at least in the short-term.
That said, it appears we may have one less option than expected as Mikel Arteta is struggling with an ankle problem. If Arteta can't go, that leaves us with a likely starting duo of Cazorla and Coquelin, and one of a few different options for the third spot. Depending on how Wenger manipulates the formation, we could see AOC, Ramsey, Arshavin or possibly even Frimpong. If it were up to me, I'd go with Ox, or anybody but Ramsey. Should be interesting to see how it unfolds, but needless to say we won't be at our absolute best in midfield, and it would have been nice to have Wilshere available for this one.
As for the defence, I'd expect Gibbs, Jenkinson, Vermaelen and Mertesacker. Koscielny didn't have a very good day against Chelsea and I think Mertesacker is a better option against Olympiacos, who figure to be physical, and dangerous on set pieces. In truth, we've done better with Mertesacker all season, and I fear for Koscielny that he may have officially been demoted to a second choice centre-back, but I guess that remains to be seen.
Up front, I'm hoping for Podolski, Gervinho and Giroud. I think Giroud deserves a shot at starting a match. I've talked a lot about how much pressure we've put on him, and bringing him on late in the match when we're at desperation point probably isn't helping. Podolski seems pretty automatic and Gervinho has played about as well as anybody on the squad this season so I don't see any reason for him to take a seat in a match as important as this one.
And it is indeed important It's not enough for us to get out of this group. We need to win it. It was a favorable draw for us and we need to take advantage of that. The Montpelier match was on the nervy side, especially in the second half, and I'm hoping we can do better this time around. In contrast to Arsenal Olympiacos are plowing through their league matches, but struggled against Schalke in their first Champion's League fixture, so they'll be desperate for a win at The Emirates. It feels unlikely, but we'll need to be on full alert to avoid a poor result. Enjoy the match Gooners, see you tomorrow.