There is no margin for error for Arsenal in their second Champions League group F match, as nothing less than win will be sufficient when Greek champions Olympiakos visit the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The two sides are familiar opponents, with this being the fourth time in seven seasons that they have been drawn together at this stage of the competition. Both teams lost their opening match, with Arsenal suffering the potentially disastrous setback of losing to Dinamo Zagreb, supposedly the weakest side in the group. With two games against Bayern Munich coming up next, a failure to win here may leave the Gunners facing a seriously uphill task to reach the last 16.
It was an uncharacteristically poor display from the Gunners in the Croatian capital, with two soft goals conceded and a lack of chances created in general play, even before they went down to 10 men. Theo Walcott’s neat finish to give them hope in the closing stages was a very rare moment of attacking quality.
They do at least come into this off the back of two morale-boosting victories, beating bitter rivals Tottenham to reach the fourth round of the Capital One Cup and then rediscovering a scoring touch to triumph in the Premier League at Leicester City to move to within just three points of top spot. Walcott, and fellow striker Olivier Giroud were both on target, but the outstanding man on the day was Alexis Sanchez, who ended his wait to open his account for the campaign with a marvellous hat-trick.
If the Chilean – as well as his teammates – can be as devastating here, Olympiakos are likely to have no answer. Bayern dealt them a rare home defeat in Europe on match day one, and although the final score-line of 3-0 was not a fair reflection of their efforts, they will be just as desperate as Arsenal to register a victory here. They are arguably not as strong as in recent seasons, but can be expected at the very least to be tough for the hosts to break down.
Mathieu Flamini may miss out for Arsene Wenger’s side after being forced off against Leicester. Gabriel Paulista is back available and could feature in defence, but Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck are both long-term absentees.