Speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with Olympiacos, Arsène Wenger has shown respect for the Greek champions.
The Frenchman was also bullish and seemed confident in Arsenal’s ability to progress, but he spoke of the strengths of the side who stand between Arsenal and the Champions League knockout stages.
Back in September, Olympiacos beat Arsenal 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium. At the time it was seen as a major setback, and we now know the exact significance of the scoreline. The Gunners are three points behind their hosts heading into Wednesday’s match, and need to win by any scoreline other than 1-0 or 2-1 – thus bettering Olympiacos’ result in London – to progress.
“They played well against us,” Wenger said at the press conference in Greece on Tuesday.
“They were well organised on counter-attacks and set pieces. Overall they were a solid unit.
“You can see they are used to dominating their championship because they had the confidence when they had the opportunity.”
This season, Olympiacos have won all 13 of their Greek Super League matches, and top the table by a margin of 13 points. They’re a team used to winning, but what about the pressure on them on Wednesday?
Three points ahead of Arsenal, even a 1-0 or 2-1 loss would see Olympiacos through. What’s the mental impact of being so close to qualification?
Wenger: “Let’s not forget Olympiacos are qualified at the moment but they can lose what they have. That can create a fear factor.”
— James Olley (@JamesOlley) December 8, 2015
Piling the pressure on the Greek side, Arsène Wenger wasn’t wrong. What’s crucial for Arsenal is to score the opening goal tomorrow. Do that, and the hosts may be caught between chasing a goal for more security or sitting back and soaking up pressure.
With an advantage heading into the match, the pressure is already on them.