After our 4-0 late show over Newcastle at the weekend, the games are now coming thick and fast as we approach the end of the season. We return to Europa League action on Thursday and we fly out to Greece to face Olympiacos in the last 32 of the competition.
Unai Emery’s last game in charge was the 2-1 home defeat by Frankfurt in the Europa League and believe it or not, this is the first game in the competition since that fateful night.
For a short time Arsenal had the best odds to win the tournament; now, according to Sports Betting Dime they’re not even a top four favourite, having now been surpassed by Manchester United, Sevilla and two teams who dropped down from the Champions League in Inter Milan and Ajax.
Despite all the talk of Arteta’s great work with the defence, Arteta now has more than a few options for the game in Greece in both midfield and attack. Martinelli and Lacazette were both rested for the Newcastle game so could return, while Nketiah looks likely to drop back to the bench after a quiet afternoon in North London on Sunday.
Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette should be brimming with confidence after the emphatic win over Newcastle and will all be hoping to keep their place. Arteta will also have one eye on Sunday afternoon when we host Everton in the league, where he’ll be hoping to build on our unbeaten year so far and close the gap on Champions League places with a win over his old side.
It remains to be seen whether Arteta will fully rotate the squad, but Joe Willock could be on standby, while Leno could be dropped for Martinez in goal. Matteo Guendouzi could return to the fold after rumours of a falling out with Arteta in Dubai but could be punished further by missing out again. Dani Ceballos may retain his place after impressing against Newcastle and Arteta will need to decide who plays in the centre of midfield, with Torreira and Xhaka both ready to start.
New signing Pablo Mari and Rob Holding played 45 mins for the U23s against Chelsea earlier in the week, but it is unlikely they will feature given we have with Mustafi, Luiz and Sokratis all being fit.
Calum Chambers (knee), Kieran Tierney (shoulder) and new signing Cedric Soares (knee) will definitely miss the game as they can still be filed under long term absentees.
The Olympiacos away game kicks off at 8pm UK time and can be seen on BT Sport ahead of the second leg in two weeks time at The Emirates. VAR will be used during the rest of the competition and the draw for the next round will take place on the 28th of February.
The quarter finals (last 16) will then take place on the 12th and 19th of March and any more team news we hear about will be posted here as soon as we get it once Arteta has spoken about the game.