The Chelsea game hurt, and I guess I'm not the only one who's been pretty down since we slumped to our first defeat of the season on Saturday. And whilst its easy to sit in confinement replaying Giroud's late miss over and over again in our minds, and just generally feeling sorry for ourselves, it would probably be better for us to move on.
The good thing about this stage of the season is that the games do come thick and fast, so there is definitely an opportunity to immediately bounce back, and coincidentally put ourselves in a very promising position to qualify from our group. Olympiacos are notorious for their lack of success on their travels, and we should definitely expect three points form tonight's game. Arsene has reiterated the squads desire " to put things right." and also the fact that winning your home fixtures in the Champions League is absolutely vital “The Champions League is simple - you need one away win and three home wins. We have done the first part of the job, now the second part is to be strong at home."
Whilst it would be nice to bring in a number of fresh faces, we should undoubtedly try an start as good a team as possible, and the expected line up is this: Mannone Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen Gibbs Ramsey Coquelin Cazorla Gervinho Podolski Giroud.
Starting at the back, Szczesny remains out injured, so Mannone will yet again deputise in goal. Whilst in defence, it seems certain that Mertesacker will be back in the first team, after missing the Chelsea game as part of a tactical gamble. A gamble that sadly for Wenger did not pay off. Mertesacker seems an integral cog in our defence this season, giving a calming presence to the rest of the team. Koscielny was poor on Saturday and has taken much of the blame for the defeat, but we must remember he was our best defender last season and is still a quality player. But right now he will have to earn his place due to the form and partnership of our other defenders.
The Diaby injury has been heavily analysed, with the evident lack of a replacement with his physical capabilities. Possibly contributing to the two goals lost from set pieces at the weekend. Yet the Frenchman's injury certainly gives his fellow countryman Coquelin a great chance to step into the first team frame.
Up front, whilst Arshavin has been included in the first team squad he is still quite a way off the first team, which highlights the quality we have in attacking positions. Giroud is crying out for a start and an important goal which can properly kick start his Arsenal career. Speaking of his £12 million signing Wenger described how low in confidence he truly is: "He is upset. I told him not to worry but you can say what you want. A striker who doesn't score, doesn't really listen to you. They run it through their minds over and over again."
A goal and a good performance will certainly help Giroud, and Arsenal. After-all we need a proper striker this season, Gervinho may be able to do a shift in some games but ideally we need someone better. Giroud has shown that he has the movement to become a top forward, but he needs to back that up with ruthless finishing, and goals.
A good performance will probably benefit Podolski as well, who made an extremely impressive start to his Arsenal career against Liverpool, Southampton and Montpellier, but in recent games against City and Chelsea has failed to take charge of the game and found himself substituted. Tonight if he can bag a few goals or assists will help maintain his overall positive start to his career.
Fellow German Serge Gnabry has also found hiself involved in the first team squad, and whilst I doubt he'll be able to get much involvement in terms of playing time, the whole atmosphere of a big Champions League game will certainly be something for the young German to savour. He has real talent and is expected to feature for the first team at some stage this year.
Lastly, It in interesting to note that today's clash comes almost exactly a year on from our last game with Olympiacos at the Emirates. Last year Santos and Chamberlain put in impressive games for us, both scoring their first Arsenal goal and European goal respectively. That game came third in a run of 14 games where we only lost once, winning eleven times. If we can put a run like that together following tonight's game we will be in a great position to properly mount a challenge for the league.
Here's to the three points!