Early Champions League thoughts

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Having got their act together in the Premier League on Saturday, Arsenal must do the same in the Champions League. The visit of Olympiacos to the Emirates offers the chance to put some points on the board before the double-header against Bayern, where points will be at a premium.

That result means Tuesday is a must-win match in that sense. Even though Dinamo aren’t expected to take points from Bayern, they meet Olympiacos in a head-to-head and can add to their points tally, maybe even taking it to nine points. That total puts Arsenal under immense pressure if they have less than four points at the same stage. A lot of ifs, buts and maybes.

Of course, there’s always the question of why Olympiacos are here in the first place. The match-fixing allegations brought against their president are due to be heard in the next couple of months, by which time the group stage will be all but over. It seems likely that the club will face sanction if his guilt is proven and UEFA has created the potential for an unholy mess if expulsion is the answer.

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This first appeared on A Cultured Left Foot on September 26

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If they expunge Olympiacos’ record from this years, competition, Arsenal or Dinamo may unfairly benefit as the team which takes most points from them suffers the greater loss.

The temptation to rotate heavily must be there once more, particularly after the win at White Hart Lane. Arsène trusted his fringe players and this time they responded, for the most part. He can’t do the same on Tuesday though, not least because he will not have Mathieu Flamini available after his hamstring twang at Leicester.

In any case, I doubt it will be wholesale changes and with four or so days to recover before facing Manchester United, is there much need to rotate so heavily this early in the season? Last Wednesday’s win at White Hart Lane changed the emphasis on the visit to Leicester; Arsenal, had steadied the ship, even if it were a much-changed line-up to the one which kicked off at the King Power Stadium.

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