Arsenal has to be at their best against Olympiacos this evening.
Football has a long history of surprises in two-legged matchups. Just look at last seasons’s Champions League semi-finals as classic examples.
Arsenal is obvious favourites to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League but it is far from a given. Here are five reasons why Arsenal need to be very careful this evening.
Arsenal rarely produces a consistent ninety minutes even under Mikel Arteta this season.
Arsenal has been a bit of a one half team this season, in fact, it is generally the second half that they do better. Leeds United, a championship team could easily have been two or three goals up against Arsenal in the FA Cup and a repeat of that could be very costly.
Arsenal has ridden their luck a bit.
There is an argument that Arsenal was lucky against Everton, Burnley, Chelsea etc. I do not necessarily agree with than totally but I do admit that the failings of the opposition have been to our advantage ion occasions and it could easily be that it is Olympiacos that get the luck this evening.
Olympiacos is not actually a bad team.
They are not Bayern Munich or Liverpool but they have shown that they can, on occasions, live with the big teams, they did get beat by both Bayern and Tottenham on the road this season but neither match was a convincing win for the home sides. If Arsenal is not at their best and Olympiacos are, then it could be a bad night for the home team.
Arsenal’s defence is still vulnerable.
There is no denying that the Arsenal defence has improved but we saw against Everton that it is far from solid and any dropping of the standard that has been set under Arteta and Olympiacos could easily take advantage.
This is cup football.
It may not be the FA Cup but we all know that anything can happen in knockout football and just a single goal from the visitors and nerves will kick in, momentum could easily shift and Arsenal could find themselves in one of those classic games where form goes out the window and it comes down to which side gets that lucky break. Never underestimate the ability of cup football to defy logic.