Olympiakos Preview by Dan Smith
Let’s make it clear, player for player we are better than Olympiakos.
Take away the fact that they knocked us out last season, and on paper this is a winnable tie to reach the Q-Finals.
When you consider Man United have to face AC Milan, the draw could have been a lot worse.
I believe mentality is a huge thing though in Sport. Quality can only take you so far, the rest is in your head. There might be a few aspects the Greek Champions feel they can take advantage of against Arsenal.
Here Are A Few Things Worth Considering?
The narrative is Sokratis revealing all our secrets to Olympiakos. While that’s a bit dramatic, there’s every incentive for our ex-defender to come back and haunt us.
The centre back wasn’t considered good enough for our squad, so it would be ironic if he got the last laugh. If I wasn’t a Gooner, given how we treated him, I would say it would be written in the stars for him to be the difference
The two clubs have officially played each other 10 times, with 5 wins each.
Arsenal have won their last two visits to Olympiakos while the Greeks have won their last 2 trips to the Emirates.
– Olympiakos Are Used To Winning
While you can’t compare the Super League with the quality of the Premier League, the fact is Olympiakos have a squad used to winning every week. If, like me, you believe the psychological aspect of Sport is massive, it doesn’t matter the level of opposition, the fact is that winning breeds confidence. The Greek Champions have only lost once in their League this campaign, winning 20 put of a possible 25 fixtures, having gone unbeaten last season.
Arsenal on the other hand have lost as many games as they have won domestically (11). So while our opponents have momentum to play with, we don’t know which Gunners will show up.
Olympiakos Home Record
This might depend on how much you take seriously home advantage without fans in the stadium. Again though Olympiakos have a group of players who have that momentum of not losing at home.
You have to go back to September 2018 for the last League match they lost at the Karaiskakis Stadium. Porto and Man City did win there in the Champions League. Us and Bayern Munich won their last season so that does show they don’t necessarily translate their domestic form into to Europe.
– We Have To Win Europa League
Olympiakos are 16 points clear at the top of their League after 25 games.
It’s a case of when and not if they are confirmed Champions, which qualifies them for the Champions League. That makes the Europa League a bonus for them.
Where they would like to win the Europa League, we HAVE to win the Europa League. Arsenal have to win this tournament to save their season.
10th in the Premiership, it’s unlikely we will put the run needed to qualify for Europe through a League position, meaning not winning the Europa could have huge financial implications on our future.
I have yet to see enough evidence that we can trust this group of players to cope with that much pressure.
That’s what the Greeks took advantage of last year…….
Beat Us Last Year
Last February we were in an identical situation.
With no chance of finishing in the top 4, we knew we had to win the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League. Despite winning the first leg at the Emirates we were crippled by the fear of failure.
That was the last game I attended before COVID. I remember the nervous atmosphere that night and how the visitors sensed we were crippled by anxiety. Maybe it’s one of the few games where we will cope better without supporters inside stadiums?
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