Olympiakos Preview + Lineups, Diaby, Wilshere, Almunia, full backs, Michael Johnson and Walcott

03 Oct

Nothing better than a matchday to keep you alive and in spirits. Olympiakos at home today, in the Champions League, and of course, after what happened over the weekend, nothing less than a win will suffice.

There has been lot of talk about the team needing to show it’s mental strength after their first loss of the season, and it will be under quite a bit of scrutiny today. It came quite as a hit on the chins, after the team was being considered as front runners for the title. And, post the defeat, like the media always does, Arsenal are now being considered as outsiders for the title. How 90 minutes can change the world.

The Olympiakos game at home will provide the team something to make a comeback with, and it won’t be an easy fixture at all. Last year, Olympiakos came visiting around the same time of the season, and ran a very new look Arsenal side close. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Andre Santos put the home side 2-0 up on 19 minutes, only for David Fuster to halve the deficit.

Arsenal nervously held on for the win, with the Greek side making several attempts at goal, even hitting the crossbar once. And it will require the same type of resolve, not only today evening, but throughout the season, to grind out results.

One player who missed that game, and will miss it today as well is Abou Diaby, who has been at his frustrating best again this season. Like I said recently, Diaby has had 3 avatars of himself. One that can really entertain and enthrall, one that can be sloppy and erratic, and one that loves the smells and sounds of the treatment room. And, Arsene Wenger admitted that keeping Diaby was a bit of a gamble, with his past injury record. I don’t think that needs to be resaid.

Diaby’s injury record is not good,I was concerned about him, of course. It was a gamble but I was calculating as well that Jack Wilshere was coming back.Francis Coquelin is here but was sick and Emmanuel Frimpong is back, while Tomas Rosicky is coming back. We have many midfield players.We don’t have many physical players. but Mikel Arteta has shown he can be a great defensive midfield player. We’ll see overall if it was a good or bad decision at the end of the season.

Arsene Wenger was also quick to blame the French FA for calling him up for international duty last month. However, I think the problem has got more to do with the player’s fragility, rather than his involvement in an international fixture. Diaby played the opening 3 games of the season, and showed little signs of rustiness, before going away for France duty, where he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over France. However, a knock meant he missed the subsequent friendly, and even the Southampton game.

Against Montpellier, and Manchester City, it would be fair to say that Diaby was average, and probably all the football he has played for over the course of the year, took a toll, and he was withdrawn within 15 minutes against Chelsea. While there is no doubting the player’s talent, and his commitment, it is unfortunate that he has had to go through so many cycles of fitness. It will surely call for an evaluation at the end of the season, where the manager will have to judge his game time and performance over the course of the entire season, and decide whether he retains the player or lets him go.

Getting away from that bit of negativity, is some positive news that Jack Wilshere is finally back in action. He has been out of action for nearly 14 months, since he injured himself in a pre-season Emirates Cup friendly game against Boca Juniors, or was it New York Red Bulls. I didn’t personally watch the match, but read a bit of text commentary and some match reports.

Supposedly, he had a good game, made some fine touches, as well as making some wonderful passes, and is slowly but surely getting back to his battling best. The year off has given him some time off to hit the gym and build up his, well, build. Not that Jack is one to get out muscled, but in the physical environment that is the Premier League, it is of paramount importance.

There will be an emphasis on not wanting to rush Jackie boy back to action too early. He himself admitted he was knackered at having played for over an hour, and match fitness, is miles away. The Interlull actually comes at a good time, now with Diaby, Wilshere, Rosicky, Sagna, and Szczesny all working their way towards fitness, and by the time the Norwich away clash comes around on the 20th, we should be able to see more healthy players available for selection.

Wilshere, however, has had the longest time out, and the Capitol One Cup clash at the Madejski on the 30th would be the correct time for him to be given match time. His friend for 11 years, Emmanuel Frimpong, is delighted at the Englishman’s return to action.The Denchster, himself making his first appearance in several months with a late cameo against Coventry in the Capitol One Cup, said,

I’m happy for him to be back playing with the team again and to see a smile on his face,After 14 months out, he did very well and he can be pleased with his performance.When you’ve been out for so long, it’s only natural you’re going to be tired [afterwards]. He needs more games to get fit. I think the England and Arsenal fans should be excited to see him back again.He’s probably my best friend at the Club. It’s only right because I’ve known him for 11 years. I’m just happy to be playing alongside him and I thought the team did well even though we lost the game – we can take some positives.Even though he’s a young player, Jack has got loads of international appearances and he’s like a senior player in the changing room.I don’t think we have to give him any motivation to play out here. No matter what game he’s playing, he’s always willing to give his best.

In other news, our former goalkeeper Manuel Almunia (remember him?) spoke about his life and times at Arsenal, as well as making some intentional, or non-intentional jokes, something that goes like “Szczesny is like me; tall, authoritative and good with his feet.”. Ok, we believe you. You can of course read his entire interview, dissected finely into fine parts here.

Some team news then. Mikel Arteta is a major doubt for the game, having picked up a small knock to the ankle against Chelsea, and I have the hunch, it would be a perfect time to rest the Spaniard, who has been ever present so far this season. It will also give Francis Coquelin some game time, and a chance to prove his credentials, and another chance for Aaron Ramsey as well. Surprisingly, the young German Serge Gnabry is also included in the squad. I would love to see Arshavin given a run around.

Apart from the midfield, there will also be some pondering to do over the defence. Personally, with the tough away game against West Ham over the weekend, where I think Mertesacker and Vermaelen start, I have the hunch Mertesacker and Koscielny will be selected today. We all know Koscielny had a howler over the weekend, but after a fantastic few months, it would be unfair to lay all blame over him. But, that’s just my hunch.

Up front, I feel Olivier Giroud deserves a start. Yes, his form in front of goal, has been, at best, patchy, but he needs more game time. Lukas Podolski and Gervinho, who have 7 goals between them now, will be slated for a start as well, with Walcott and Chamberlain having to share some benchspace, or is it denchspace? Sorry.

Two players who are absolutely certain to start, are the young English full backs, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs. Both have had fantastic starts to the season, and are pushing for spots even in the international setup. Jenkinson, however, has reaffirmed that his sights are only on Arsenal at the moment, and international glory, er, with England, or Finland, hmm, can wait.

I’m just concentrating on my club football, that’s my bread and butter,I’m just focused on the here and now and the next game against Olympiacos.[Finland] have contacted me. I told them, ‘I’m focusing on my club football’ so that’s all there is to it. You can read into that how you want.I’m going to have to make a decision at some point. As I’ve said many times, I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Until then I’m just concentrating on each game as it comes.I am really enjoying my football and I think that’s a big part of things. I think confidence is a big part. I’m feeling good at the moment and hopefully I’ll just keep building on my game and my confidence will grow with it.I feel comfortable at this level now. I think I have acclimatised you could say. I just want to push on and hopefully keep going as I’m going.

Jenkinson has come a long way, since being an irregular for League One Charlton Athletic, and so has Gibbs, since that unfortunate slip in a Champions League semifinal against Manchester United. Yes, I do not want to go there. Gibbs has been keeping out Brazilian international Andre Santos on the fringes for quite a while now, and I do not expect Bacary Sagna to get his place in the first team right away, either. And, that’s down to tenacity, and consistency, which Arsene Wenger, was quick to note.

He was out a lot but now he has found stability in his performances,Gael Clichy had the same problem. He went through a long period of injury and after that he stabilised physically. That’s what Kieran is doing at the moment.I am very happy with his performances because he is like Carl – in every game he gets stronger.This year they have benefitted from the fact they had a good preparation.Carl has as well gained one year’s experience compared to last season. He came from Charlton and was straight away thrown into the Champions League. You can say that from game to game now he grows because it is linked with confidence.You need first to know that you belong there. Once you know that you can express yourself and then you see that in every game there is more coming out of him.

Enough about us and something about our opponents tonight, Olympiakos. They are a slightly different team from the one that faced us last season. The first man to score a league goal at the Emirates Stadium, and arch enemy of our own Freddie Ljungberg, Olof Mellberg is no more with the Greek side, having moved to Villarreal. Other major movers are former Spain international Pablo Orbaiz to Rubin Kazan and Belgian international Kevin Mirallas, who was close to signing for us during the close season, before joining Everton.

One face you may recognize from their lineup, (of course, I am pretty sure remembering all the ‘iakos’ and ‘doupolos’ is pretty tedious) is former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll. The last time he faced us, when playing for Manchester United, Arsenal won the FA Cup of 2005 on penalties.

There is also the Serbian goal scoring machine Marko Pantelic, and Spaniard David Fuster, who scored twice in two games against us last season. There are also a host of Greek internationals, in their captain and highly versatile defender Vasilis Torosidis, and highly rated midfielder Ioannais Fetfatzidis.

Here is how I think the two sides will line up.

Arsene Wenger will of course serve the second of his 3 match ban tonight, however, there should be no cause for worry or breakdown in communication, with Steve Bould taking matters into his own hand on the night.

Here’s some additional reading to keep you going for some while. American sprint great and Olympic legend Michael Johnson was at Arsenal’s training ground, and we hope Per Mertesacker would have taken some lessons from him. You can of course read the entire thing, with pictures here.

Apart from that Arsenal fans have released a video to make Theo Walcott stay at Arsenal. I think it has got a pathetic tune to it, though the lyrics is pretty reasonable. Here is the lyrics, and you can scroll down to view the video. At your own risk of course.

Come on mate, Time is ticking.

Last year of the contract, Still not signed it.

What’s going on, man? Spill the beans.

Walcott, Walcott, Walcott, Walcott,
Sign da ting, sign da ting.
(Repeat four times)

Oi Theo, stick to the wing.

Playing up front just ain’t your thing.

Apart from your pace what else are you offering?

Now we got Oxlade-Chamberlain.

In your spot, technique he brings, that’s why the fans his name we sing.

Should be you but it’s not its him. We ain’t playing you until you sign da ting.

Sign the ting na, sign the ting. Theo Walcott, sign the ting.

If you don’t, well, then you’re stuck on the bench, listening to Frimpong chat about Dench.

We got Podolski, we got Giroud, even Gervinho’s been up front too.

That ain’t to say that they’re better than you, but you got a year left, so what you gonna do then?

Walcott, Walcott, Walcott, Walcott,
Sign da ting, sign da ting.
(Repeat four times)

You’ll never get more love than from The Gunners.

Think about that before you do a runner.

If you stay I’ll be happy, in fact delighted.

If you go I hope you don’t go to Man United

Are you gonna be just like the rest, just take the money, forget the crest.

The big fat cannon upon your chest. Because that’s what makes you play your best.

Sign the ting na, sign the ting. Theo Walcott, sign the ting.

If you don’t, well, then you’re stuck on the bench, listening to Frimpong chat about Dench.

We got Podolski, we got Giroud, even Gervinho’s been up front too.

That ain’t to say that they’re better than you, but you got a year left, so what you gonna do then?

Walcott, Walcott, Walcott, Walcott,
Sign da ting, sign da ting.
(Repeat four times)

So Theo, what’s it gonna be?

When you look into the mirror. What do you see?

Do you wanna be a part of history, or are you gonna be like Van Persie?

The little boy inside him saying join me! It’s been a long time since you won a trophy.

And that was for being a young personality. Given to you by the BBC.

Sign the ting na, sign the ting. Theo Walcott, sign the ting.

If you don’t, well, then you’re stuck on the bench, listening to Frimpong chat about Dench.

We got Podolski, we got Giroud, even Gervinho’s been up front too.

That ain’t to say that they’re better than you, but you got a year left, so what you gonna do then?

Walcott, Walcott, Walcott, Walcott,
Sign da ting, sign da ting.
(Repeat four times)

Sign da ting, sign da ting.

Walcott, Walcott, Walcott, Walcott,

Walcott, Walcott, Walcott, Walcott,

Sign da ting, sign da ting

Jai Arsenal 🙂

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————– While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter. @blazingcannons

And do like, the Facebook page as well.

Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!


Posted by on October 3, 2012 in 2012-2013, Match Previews


5 responses to “Olympiakos Preview + Lineups, Diaby, Wilshere, Almunia, full backs, Michael Johnson and Walcott

  1. footballtalk1212

    October 3, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    may I ask what website did you use to make your formation?

    • supreetkini

      October 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      • footballtalk1212

        October 6, 2012 at 2:53 AM



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