Arsenal will be without several big names for tonight’s fixture with Olympiakos, including manager Arsene Wenger. Wenger serves the last game of his touchline ban; enforced after he criticised officials post last season’s exit to AC Milan at The Emirates. Wenger will watch from the stands after giving team instructions to Steve Bould who will then manage the team throughout the fixture, and give the post-match interviews.
Wenger spoke of the immense importance of home victories in this year’s competition. He stated how the Champions League was essentially ‘simple’ as you need an away win and to win all your home games in order to qualify. As they defeated Montpellier in the opening tie of this campaign part one of the job is already complete and he says his team most focus on finishing that job.
In team news, the return to training of Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong and Bacary Sagna was an obvious boost; but none are expected to face Olympiakos. Mikel Arteta faces a late fitness test ahead of his potential involvement, after suffering an ankle injury against Chelsea. Wojciech Szczesny is still out so Vito Mannone will deputise against the side he made a horror mistake last season. Long term absentee Thomas Rosicky is also still out.
Abou Diaby will also miss the game after picking up a knock against Chelsea. The French midfielder worked tirelessly over the summer to recover from a season ravaged by injuries and Arsene Wenger is now particulary irritated with the French FA over Didier Deschamps decision to call the midfielder up for their recent clashes with Finland and Belarus.
Wenger reportedly informed the French representatives that Diaby was not yet ready to play international football, and despite a match-winning performance against Finland he also picked up a knock that has been aggravated in recent weeks. Arsenal will be without Diaby for three weeks which has irritated Wenger no end.
Francis Coquelin is expected to replace Diaby in the Arsenal side and in the event of Mikel Arteta also being injured Wenger could opt to play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and force Aaron Ramsey into a deeper-midfield role or to play Olivier Giroud with Lukas Podolski and Gervinho either side of the Frenchman.
Wenger must also decide whether to stick with Laurent Koscielny after his poor Chelsea performance, with Per Mertesacker waiting in the wings while Serge Gnabry is also expected to be included in the 18-man-squad.
Meanwhile Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has been making the headlines today, after it was reported he received a 24% pay-rise taking his total earnings to a whopping £2million. This figure is considerably higher than the other chief executives last year; in fact it is reported to be more of the entire Chelsea board put together. While he has overseen great financial turnovers at the club for the past few years he has also seen the club struggle to win silverware and keep hold of their prized assets, so his salary has caused some indignation amongst Arsenal fans.
What are your thoughts on Arsenal FC.s game with Olympiakos, the Diaby furore and Gazidis's pay-rise?
image: © wonker