Arsenal vs Olympiacos preview

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Updated: September 27, 2011

Arsenal host Olympiacos at the Emirates on Wednesday in their second Group F match. The Gunners were unlucky to draw 1-1 away to Borussia Dortmund on match day one, while Olympiacos lost 1-0 to Marseille after a 51st minute Lucho Gonzalez goal.

Arsenal looked to be on course for a valuable away victory against the German champions after a 42nd minute Robin van Persie goal. A brilliant Ivan Perisic volley salvaged a draw for Dortmund four minutes from time, however.

Arsenal are in the midst of another characteristic injury crisis, but should have enough to see off the Greek side. Arsenal were already missing Yossi Benayoun (thigh), Johan Djourou (hamstring), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Abou Diaby (ankle) and Thomas Vermaelen (ankle). Wenger must now also do without Theo Walcott (knee), Gervinho (hamstring) and Laurent Koscielny (ankle), who were all ruled out on Tuesday. Arsene Wenger’s touchline ban also continues.

The loss of Walcott and Gervinho could be particularly troublesome for Arsenal, who will be even more reliant on the dangerous Robin van Persie, who has scored four goals this season.

Theo Walcott, who injured his knee late in the 3-0 victory over Bolton, is a crucial player for Arsenal this season after the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and has played in every game so far. The Englishman has not been particularly impressive in those outings, but he will be a big loss to Arsene Wenger’s side.

Gervinho has enjoyed an erratic start to his Arsenal career after being sent off on his debut, but the Ivorian striker scored his first goal against Blackburn last week and would have been hoping to find some goal-scoring form.

The two sides met in the Champions League group stages two season ago, with Arsenal winning 2-0 at home and losing 1-0 in Greece. Olympiacos have generally been poor in Europe. The Greek side have lost all five of the Champions League matches in England, conceding 15 goals and scoring one.

Arsenal have an exemplary home record in Europe. The Gunners have not lost to a non-English side in the Champions League since a 3-0 defeat to Inter Milan in 2003. Wenger’s charges have also won 19 of their 23 home matches in that period.

Arsenal have only won two league games, but the Gunners enjoyed a confidence building 3-0 victory over Bolton on Saturday, with Alex Song scoring and van Persie grabbing a brace. With the creativity of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta in midfield and the prolific finishing of van Persie, the Gunners should be able to build on that platform and claim a relatively comfortable victory.

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