Arsenal: UCL opponent focus and predictions

Arsenal v Dortmund

We take a look at the three teams trying to topple Arsenal in their Champions League group; Schalke 04, Olympiakos and Montpellier.

Arsenal should surely come out on top of this group as winners after an impressive start to the season the forces of Schalke, Montpellier and Olympiakos should not hold much fear for The Gunners

While Arsenal may consider a group win an absolute must they know that trips to Gelsenkirchen and Montpellier will be difficult and an away day in Piraeus against Olympiakos will be their most likely slip up point, with their record away to the Greek champions dire.

Schalke 04

European Honours: Uefa Cup winners 1997

Champions League best: Semi Finals, 2010-11

Qualified: 3rd in Bundesliga

After a hit and miss campaign last time out the Gelsenkirchen side eventually did well to finish in 3rd place in the German Bundesliga and earn automatic qualification for the Champions League. They shocked many people with their run to the Semi Final of 2011, where they were eventually dispatched by Manchester United but a large part of that success was Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper now with Bayern Munich.

This term however sees them able to pair Dutch international Ibrahim Afellay and Klaas Jan Huntelaar on the pitch with exciting young Finn Teemu Pukki also a goal threat.

Prediction: 3rd

Olympiakos

European Honours: N/A

Champions League best: Quarter Finals, 1998-99

Qualified: Greek champions

Perennial European qualifiers and last season they did so in style in an impressive domestic campaign. They won the Greek title ahead of eternal rivals Panathinaikos by seven points, losing just three games in the league.

They lost their star player and top goalscorer Kevin Mirallas to Everton this summer however; which will hit them hard but their home form is imperious, with the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus an intimidating structure where Arsenal have lost on their previous two visits, including a 3-1 defeat last season.

Prediction: 2nd

Montpellier

European honours: N/A

Champions league best: N/A

Qualified: French champions

Shock French champions last season but it appears the most shocked at that result were Montpellier themselves after a pretty poor start to their current campaign. Younes Belhanda and Yanga M’Biwa have remained at the club but they lost Olivier Giroud who would enjoy scoring against his old club-mates; of that there is no doubt after his own goal drought.

Should not be discounted on the grounds of a bad start and a trip to the south of France will still be tricky for any of the teams in the group but Arsenal should pick apart their lack of European pedigree with ease.

Prediction: 4th

What do you make of Arsenal’s group?

images: © wonker, © wonker

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