CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BETTING
Arsenal v Olympiakos
Wednesday September 30, 4.45am
It was an uncomfortable mid-September for Arsenal as they returned from their Champions League trip to Dinamo Zagreb with nothing and then became only the second team to lose a Premier League match against Chelsea this season, but one thing that they are always good for is a punchy reaction.
The Gunners put the Stamford Bridge setback behind them with a 2-1 Capital One Cup triumph at Tottenham, before reinforcing that they were back in business by crushing Leicester’s optimistic pursuit of Invincibles status with a 5-2 victory at the King Power Stadium.
It will be left to Theo Walcott to lead the line against Olympiakos following Olivier Giroud’s dismissal in their Group F opener. Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are long-term absentees, though Arsene Wenger will hope that one of Francis Coquelin or Mathieu Flamini recover in time.
The last five Superleague Greece titles – and indeed 17 of the last 19 – have gone the way of Olympiakos and that appears unlikely to change in 2015/16. Despite resting players at the weekend with this fixture in mind, they breezed past Giannina 5-1 to make it 15 points from an available 15.
However, they are bottom of Group F after a 3-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich and have a number of squad members missing. Luka Milivojevic is banned, Manuel da Costa and Giannis Maniatis are injured and the game may come too soon for Alejandro Dominguez.
Arsenal and Olympiakos can’t get enough of one another in the Champions League, with this the fourth time in seven campaigns that they have shared a group.
Losing to bottom seeds Dinamo Zagreb puts pressure on the hosts, given that they still have to face Bayern Munich twice and travel to Piraeus, where they haven’t claimed a point in three prior visits.
Thankfully, their record against the Greek title holders at the Emirates is a lot more convincing, with three contests yielding three wins and seven goals.
Olympiakos are also on a five-match run of away reverses in which they have leaked 14 times. Most of their conquerors were fairly established Champions League performers like Juventus and Atletico Madrid, but there were other flops like a 2-0 loss at Malmo last term.
Arsenal won their first home group tie in each of the past 11 seasons.
Arsenal have never dropped points to Olympiakos in north London, yet they conceded on the previous two occasions that they welcomed them to the Emirates, making for a sequence of five successive meetings with them at all venues without a clean sheet.
Wenger’s men have been breached seven times in their latest four 2015/16 encounters, twice by Dinamo Zagreb, Chelsea and Leicester and once by Tottenham. Olympiakos are on a four-game clean sheet-less streak too despite their domestic domination. Both teams to score can be backed at 1.9.