Pre-Match Report

Olympiacos v Arsenal - Match Preview

Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium

By Richard Clarke in Athens

On Tuesday night, Arsène Wenger joins Europe's '200 club'.

During his double century of games, the Frenchman has racked up more footballing airmiles than any other Arsenal manager and, as he points out himself, has helped his team "win everywhere" on the continent.

Silverware has eluded him - thanks to a penalty shoot-out in the 2000 Uefa Cup Final and Barcelona's late comeback in the 2006 Champions League showpiece - but few can boast a comparable consistency.

Reaching the Cup Winners' Cup Semi-Final with Monaco in 1990 set the standard. But at Arsenal, he has created a European legacy.

The 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on Matchday Five put his Club through to the Knockout Stages for the 12th consecutive time. It also secured an eighth top spot during that run.

The result means the trip to Olympiacos is irrelevant to the fate of Wenger's side in this season's competition. However, the manager's milestone is still worth remembering.

"It is an impressive number and a privilege," he admitted. "Usually 200 games makes a whole career in Europe.

"Out of these 200 games, there must be about 160 in the Champions League. That is the highest level and it's been a fantastic experience.

"It's many hotels, many planes and many big games - that is the most important thing. We'll try to do well on this occasion too."

And there was no surprise when Wenger was asked for the biggest achievement.

"The whole season unbeaten in the Champions League of 2006, apart from the last 13 minutes [against Barcelona in the Final].

"We have had many highlights because, over the years, we have won everywhere - Madrid, Milan, Rome, Germany, France. Maybe the only place we didn't win was Barcelona. That means Arsenal are remembered all over Europe as being a strong club."

Certainly their European reputation is based on Wenger's reign. They had only enjoyed two European Cup runs before his arrival, there have been 14 since. Of course, competition changes have multiplied the opportunities three or four times over but gone are the days when the Club were called "Arsenal London" on their travels.

These days everyone knows who we are, where we come from and what we represent.

That said, there may be a certain unfamiliarity about the Arsenal side on Tuesday. Some players in the "red zone" have been left behind and a clutch of greener ones from the Carling Cup run have been handed another chance to impress. But, like the tie against Manchester City last Tuesday, there may be a shade more experience than you might otherwise expect.

"We want to win our game and respect the competition," said Wenger. "For us to finish the Group Stage unbeaten would be a fantastic achievement when you look at everybody else in England who play in Europe.

"It is not who we left at home it is who we play that is important. Before people make an early judgment [on the side], let's wait for the game and let's see how well our team do. I feel we have a very strong team and many of the players who will feature played in the first game against Olympiacos.

"What I will do is make sure we are completely solid at the back. That means I will have a very experienced defence, a bit similar to what I did against Man City."

Olympiacos have been stronger than expected in Group F. When the draw was made, the reputations of Dortmund and Marseille smacked of greater European nous. It is an outdated view.

The Greek champions are going for their third appearance in the last 16 in successive qualifications. Despite a reputation as poor travellers, they were impressive in their narrow defeat at Emirates Stadium.

Ernesto Valverde's side were temporarily top of their domestic league after beating Panaitolikos 2-0 on Saturday night and have stormed back to carve out a plausible route to the Knockout Stages. Despite losing their first two group games, if they beat Arsenal and Marseille fail to win in Dortmund, Olympiacos will be through. Even a draw might be enough via a more complicated scenario.

"They are a much better side than people give them credit for," admitted Wenger. "They won in Marseille and just lost 1-0 in Dortmund when, from what I have seen, they didn't deserve to lose the game. We saw PAOK against Tottenham last week, they play in the Greek League too and they are a good side.

"Olympiacos are particularly good at set-pieces and at home they have unbelievable support. It is the club of Greece, the club of the people. That means that when you play for something special, people are really up for it.

"In a country that suffers a lot I think football will represent something special on this night."

Arsenal struggled in similar circumstances two years ago when a side including the likes of Tom Cruise, Kyle Bartley, Kerrea Gilbert and Fran Merida were beaten 1-0.

At the time, it was the youngest side ever fielded in the Champions League and, like now, played with little external expectation having secured top spot in the previous game.

Internally, however, it will always be different.

Such are the standards Arsène Wenger has set himself in the past 200 European games.

Arsenal squad: Arshavin, Benayoun, Chamakh, Coquelin, Djourou, Eastmond, Fabianski, Frimpong, Mannone, Miquel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozyakup, Park, Rosicky, Santos, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Yennaris.

Team news
Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Gibbs (stomach), Jenkinson (back), Diaby (hamstring), Sagna (ankle), Ryo (ankle).
Olympiacos: Ibagaza (thigh), Fejsa (knee), Makoun (knee), Yeste (calf), Fuster (groin)

Ref: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)

Random Stats:
* Arsenal's next goal will be their 250th in the European Cup/Champions League.
* In this season's competition, Arsenal have had only eight shots wide, the joint lowest.
* Tomas Rosicky will be suspended if he picks up a booking.
*There will be approximately 31,000 in the stadium, including 650 Arsenal supporters.
* Olympiacos will be wearing red and white striped shirts, red shorts and red socks.
* Arsenal will be wearing their blue change strip.

Pos. Team P W D L F A Pts
1. Arsenal 5 3 2 0 6 3 11
2. Marseille 5 2 1 2 4 2 7
3. Olympicacos 5 2 0 3 5 5 6
4. Borussia Dortmund 5 1 1 3 4 9 4
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