Olympiakos Preview: Kids Take Centre Stage
A meaningless match from Arsenal’s point of view, not so from anyone else’s. Standard Liege may well complain that Arsene has taken the kids out of school early but that is their own fault for not putting together a string of consistent results, leaving them waiting on others.
Tonight is being seen as the chance for redemption following the Carling Cup exit at Eastlands last week. Defensively, the team is more inexperienced than that which took the field for that match with a rare outing for Gilbert at right back and a new left back on the block, with headline writers around the globe hoping that he has an outstanding game so that tired and lethargic ‘Top Guns‘ can be used in tomorrow’s chip wrappings.
Whatever the case, and whichever line-up he chooses, Wenger is going to gain tonight irrespective of the result. UEFA cannot do anything about the squad sent to Greece since these were all players registered by the club before the commencement of the group phase. Qualification assured, it was always likely that the last fixture would involve some younger players, another step on their development ladders, especially with the visit to Anfield looming.
Theo Walcott is included but I hope Wenger learns the lesson of Tomas Rosicky. Tonight’s performance will require some hard work on the players part and it would be more sensible for Walcott to be introduced as a substitute, limiting the chances of him aggravating the hamstring which delayed his return to first team action. Mikael Silvestre will captain the team tonight, partnering Kyle Bartley. The back four will be predominantly English, something for Wenger to observe surely, a testament to the Arsenal Academy and a slap in the face for his critics.
For Kerrea Gilbert it represents the chance to put himself ahead of Gavin Hoyte in the pecking order for right back whilst giving himself a chance of earning a new contract. That he has been loaned out frequently suggests Wenger is unconvinced of his future at the club, a good performance in difficult surroundings will be a chance to put a case forward that he can be considered a suitable replacement when required on the right hand side of defence.
The spine of the side will be reasonably experienced. Song and Silvestre are the obvious candidates but Fabianksi, Ramsey and Vela are all regular choices for their respective countries. The remainder are for the most part capped at the junior international levels.
Olympiacos face an interesting evening. They require a point to qualify for the knockout phase and will be conscious of not conceding. Yet it is an opportunity for them to win facing opponents who lack experience in this competition. That may work in the youngsters favour but they need to get their passing game working from the kick-off and be more aggressive in front of goal.
I would expect a line-up along the lines of:
Fabianski; Gilbert, Bartley, Silvestre, Cruise; Song, Coquelin; Wilshere, Ramsey, Merida; Vela
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on December 9, 2009, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Olympiakos, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 391 Comments.