Arsenal hope to avoid Greek tragedy against Olympiakos after resting number of key players

 

The dubious honour of topping Group B may still be within Arsenal's grasp but perhaps of greater significance on Tuesday night is a need to produce a display that suggests their season is not in irreversible decline.

A run of just four wins from 12 matches has created a sense that this campaign is slipping away from Arsène Wenger's control at an alarming rate. Wenger has often fallen back on the Gunners' impressive Champions League record – they have already qualified for their 13th successive knockout phase – and so it is apt that the same competition provides him brief respite from their domestic woe.

The Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus is a familiar ground, too, providing the setting for final group game dead rubbers both last year and in 2009, with both ending in defeat. It was perhaps with both matches in mind that Wenger opted for a blend of fringe players and youth-team hopefuls to accompany him to Greece.

Victory combined with Montpellier gaining at least a point against Schalke would secure first place but, with only Barcelona, Malaga and Manchester United – whom Arsenal cannot draw due to Uefa's country protection rules which apply until the quarter-finals – guaranteed to finish first, the strength of their possible opponents is impossible to determine. Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain, Juventus and Valencia are all currently second in their respective groups.

The likely scrambled line-up will dilute any assessment of the damage inflicted by Saturday's 2-0 home Premier League defeat to Swansea but it will be a vital gauge of the mood in the camp. Most of the players set to be involved are not first-team regulars, with several, including Andrei Arshavin, Sebastien Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh, given a rare opportunity ahead of possible departures next month.

"I just take this game as another game we want to win," said Wenger. "I believe it was in the best interest of our potential to win the game because many players were on the edge on Saturday."

Arsenal stood on the edge staring into the abyss on Saturday – tonight may show how much they were affected by what they saw.

Kick-off Tonight, 7.45pm, Karaiskakis Stadium.

TV ITV 1. Referee A U Mallenco (Sp).

Odds: Olympiakos 2-1, Draw 5-2, Arsenal 6-4.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media