News and gossip ahead of the fixture with Olympiakos in Greece tonight.
Arsenal face Olympiakos in their final Champions League Group stage tie tonight and Arsene Wenger has used the fact his side have already secured qualification to give several of his star players a rest.
Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are all considered injured as far as Wenger is concerned while the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker are being given a rest after playing considerable amounts of football in recent weeks; while Jack Wilshere will also stay at home as he continues his comeback from a serious ankle injury
There is an opportunity for fringe players such as Maraoune Chamakh, Andrei Arshavin and Sebastian Squillaci to make a name for themselves while young starlets Martin Angha, Jernade Meade, Sead Hajrovic, Elton Monteiro, Zak Ansah and Chuba Akpom to feature in a Champions League tie.
The game also represents an opportunity for Tomas Rosicky to get valuable game time in his rehabilitation from an Achilles problem while Andre Santos and Abou Diaby both remain sidelined through injury.
Arsene Wenger insists that the team must still win the tie in order to give them a better chance of finishing at the top of their group. Currently Schalke 04 sit above Arsenal by one point on 11 and will seal top spot with victory against bottom club Montpellier in France. Wenger does not feel the squad is weakened enough to be able to accept defeat and believes such a scenario could be detrimental considering the teams who finish top of their groups tend to be tougher opposition.
Arsenal may be up against a familiar face tonight as Roy Carroll looks set to start for the Greek outfit. He was on the bench when the two faced off in London in October but has since played in the next three Champions League fixtures and hopes to prove a point to the people who wrote him off during his time in the UK. He also mentioned that despite not being in threat from bottom club Montpellier that the Greek side would not lay down for Arsenal in Piraeus.
Arsene Wenger has also claimed that he would not currently swap his clubs position with that of Premier League champions Manchester City. He stated that with 23 games left in the league that Arsenal could ‘make it up’ while City, who are out of both the League Cup and Champions League, ‘are out’ and ‘can’t make it up’.
What are your thoughts ahead of the final Champions League tie with Olympiakos?
image: © wonker