Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted that his players are fully prepared to face Olympiacos in the Champions League, as the Gunners travel to Greece with their European future on the line. If we win 2-0 (or score 3+ and win), then we will progress from Group F; or else we will be relegated to the Europa League competition. While this seems like an uphill battle given the nature of the club’s current injuries, the manager revealed that the entire squad was dedicated to maintaining Arsenal’s record in the Champions League.
The Gunners have qualified from the group stages in each of their last 15 attempts, making it to at least the Round of 16. Wenger is very proud of that record and wants to see it maintained, as revealed on Arsenal.com:
Personally the record means a lot because it’s important for the club and for the players. I want to win and I want to qualify. For me our job is to win the next game, and do what is requested.
There is one positive thing for us – we know exactly what we have to do. We know that we have to go for it from the start. So let’s do that and hopefully we can get through. We know what is expected and we have studied Olympiacos.
We changed the team completely [against Sunderland] because we’ve lost the core in midfield of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin in the past two weeks, and we had to find a new balance. We were a bit insecure as well because we had not won last week. I believe [Olympiacos] is a different game psychologically, it’s clear, we just have to go for it.
Since the pressure is on us to score the goals, Olympiacos will be very content to sit back and defend in numbers all through the game. Given their home advantage, this will make breaking them down a very challenging prospect, but the return of players like Theo Walcott could add the required punch to our attack. The manager however believes that the biggest threat will come from our midfield, singling out Aaron Ramsey as the key man heading into the game:
Aaron is a player who creates a high number of chances when he plays through the middle and his expected goals when he plays through the middle is quite high, one of the highest in the Premier League.
So I’m not surprised when he plays through the middle he’s always attracted [to the ball]. He could have scored three [against Sunderland]. That’s why he was so happy when he scored. In the first half he had a back pass from Nacho when he could have scored, after that he hit the goalkeeper when he could have scored, and then he did.
It is no secret that Ramsey prefers to play through the middle of the pitch, and now that he has an extended run in his preferred position (thanks to a long injury for Santi Cazorla) it is likely that the Welshman will rediscover his shooting boots once more. The goal against Sunderland is hopefully just the beginning of a run of form for the player, and his partnership with Mesut Ozil will be a joy to watch.