After losing to Dinamo Zagreb and Chelsea, defeats of Spurs and Leicester City have re-inspired a feel-good feeling in north London (which, truly, is ours).
Arsène Wenger’s men look a lot closer to top form, but the wrongs are yet to be righted in the Champions League.
The 2-1 loss in Zagreb has left us in a perilous position in a group that contains Bayern Munich; any slip up at home could be punished by either the Croatian side or Tuesday night’s opponents, Olympiacos.
After two wins in a row the agenda was, understandably, more positive than recent press conferences but the seriousness with which Arsenal are approaching the game cannot be mistaken.
“You have to win your home games if you want to qualify from the group stage, it is simple as that,” Arsène Wenger assertively said when asked if it was a ‘must win’ game. “We cannot afford to drop points now against anyone at home.”
The home form is what has faltered in the opening weeks of the season, but Wenger is hoping his side can find the target again after netting five at Leicester.
“We always try to play and go forward. At home we face maybe a different kind of problem, teams regroup in front of their box and you need to be penetrative with your passing, with your movement, and clinical with your finishing.”
The aims are clear, and three points are very much demanded of the players.
Following a week which saw them both play more than they are used to, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are both struggling with muscle issues. Francis Coquelin is back in training and could be an option. Aaron Ramsey has played twice in a week so could be rested if Coquelin is available. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to start.
Olivier Giroud is banned following his red card in Zagreb, so Theo Walcott will continue to lead the line.
Wenger’s decisions will be at the back, where he has to choose between Petr Čech and David Ospina before considering whether or not to reshuffle his defence. Per Mertesacker, like Ramsey, has played twice in the last week and Gabriel is available after sitting out the Leicester game. Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs could come in once again.
Possible XI: Ospina; Debuchy, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs; Coquelin, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Alexis; Walcott.
The Greek champions have scored 16 times in five league games this season, maintaining a perfect record with a 5-1 win over PAS Giannina at the weekend. In the league they use a 4-2-3-1 which aims to attack but a more defensive minded approach and a 4-1-4-1 formation were adopted for the game against Bayern Munich, which the German champions won 3-0.
Esteban Cambiasso and Brown Ideye both played in the Premier League last season with Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion respectively, and both should start on Tuesday night. Former Fulham midfielder Patjim Kasami is another player to have plied his trade in England.
Midfielder Luka Milivojevic is suspended.
Konstantinos Fortounis has five goals in as many league games from midfield this season, while Swedish international Jimmy Durmaz has scored three times in five appearances. Neither started against Bayern but could make the team to face Arsenal.
Possible XI: Roberto; Elabdellaoui, da Costa, Siovas, Masuaka; Cambiasso; Pardo, Kasami, Fortounis, Durmaz; Ideye.
Steven Gerrard’d finest moment came against Olympiacos. Unlike him, Arsenal can’t slip up on Tuesday night.
Was that poetic, fitting or even good? No, I just wanted to mention him because of all the nonsense in this latest book that’s being thrown in everyone’s face.
But really, a good performance is needed. With two games against Bayern Munich coming up this group is only going to get harder. In order to qualify, a home win against Olympiacos is an absolute must.