Arsenal v Olympiakos: Gunners to march on

Arsenal are in command of their UEL tie against Olympiakos, and unlike last season's tie between the sides, Kevin Hatchard doesn't believe the Gunners will blow it.

Arsenal must harness NLD momentum

Arsenal may not have produced the standout moment of Sunday's North London derby (be honest, how many times have you watched that Erik Lamela rabona?), but they did produce a stirring comeback to win 2-1. It's been a good spell for the Gunners - they have squeezed past Benfica and powered into a 3-1 lead against Olympiakos in the Europa League, they have won at Leicester and now they have beaten their bitter local rivals. Young players like Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard are consistently catching the eye, and the injury situation has significantly improved.

However, not all is entirely well. The Gunners are still giving away absurdly preventable goals on a regular basis (the latest was Olmypiakos' equaliser last week) and goalkeeper Bernd Leno looks far from solid. He's always been a goalkeeper that has the potential to make a costly error, and he just doesn't inspire the same level of confidence in defenders that the elite custodians do. As for Arsenal's insistence on playing out from the back in tight spaces, manager Mikel Arteta insists that won't change, and says his players must be brave and improve the timing of those passes.

Arsenal won the first leg against Olympiakos in this competition last season, but went on to be eliminated, but they should be okay here, having scored two fairly late goals to build a 3-1 advantage. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could return to the starting XI, after his tardiness cost him his place in the team against Spurs (he got stuck in traffic in Muswell Hill - a rookie error as anyone from North London knows), while Bukayo Saka is a doubt with a hamstring problem.

Olympiakos need Herculean effort

Greek champions Olympiakos now need the kind of supreme effort that their country's mythology is littered with if they are to turn this tie around and reach the quarter-finals. They were on the wrong end of two stunning strikes from Martin Odegaard and Mohamed Elneny last week, as well as a jaw-dropping far-post header from Gabriel. It wasn't an awful display from Pedro Martins' team, as they kept the game level until the last 11 minutes.

Despite their success at the Emirates last season, Olympiakos' away record in Europe doesn't generally inspire confidence in a comeback. They lost all three of their Champions League away games this season, and they went down 2-1 at PSV, with Koka's late away goal enough to take them through to the last 16.

Veteran striker Youssef El-Arabi remains the chief goal threat, and he netted in the first leg. In defence, midfielder Yann M'Vila was pressed into service as a centre-back last week, and he may feature there again because of Ruben Semedo's ongoing fitness concerns. Former Arsenal defender Sokratis is once again in line to start.

Gunners to qualify in style

Olympiakos do struggle on the road, but they must attack if they want to turn this tie around. The Greek outfit must score at least three times, and that could lead to quite an entertaining encounter that Arsenal should win. Arsenal have won all of their UEL home games this season (including the home leg against Benfica, which was played in Athens), and overall they have won five of the last eight games they have played at the Emirates.

Olympiakos have conceded at least twice in all of their European away games this season, so I'll go for Arsenal to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0 on the Sportsbook.

Chastened Aubameyang could strike

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seems unlikely to be in the doghouse for more than one match, and it would be a surprise to see him sidelined for what is a very important match. He'll be keen to make a point, and he looked sharp in the first leg.

You can back him to score at any time at 1.83 on the Sportsbook, and he is 3.75 in the First Goalscorer market.

I mentioned El-Arabi's attractive odds in my first-leg preview, and he is 3.75 to repeat last year's effort and score at the Emirates.



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