Olympiakos vs Arsenal preview: Smith Rowe in contention

Team news and stats ahead of Olympiakos vs Arsenal in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday; kick-off 8pm.

Team news

Arsenal could have Emile Smith Rowe available for Thursday’s Europa League round-of-32 first leg against Olympiakos.

The attacking midfielder suffered a muscular injury in the recent win at Leicester and missed Saturday’s draw at Burnley.

Manager Mikel Arteta has no other injury concerns but does have Sunday’s north London derby at home to Tottenham to consider when picking his team in Athens.

While most of the Olympiakos players will be familiar to Arsenal following their previous clash, one is particularly well-known.

Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos joined Olympiakos in January after having his contract at the Emirates Stadium terminated and Arteta is looking forward to coming up against the Greece international.

Sokratis keen to shackle former team-mates

Sokratis Papastathopoulos will face his former club this week
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Sokratis Papastathopoulos will face his former club this week

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is confident Olympiakos can shackle Arsenal’s match-winners as he predicted another Europa League upset for the Gunners.

The Greece defender left Arsenal to join the Super League champions after having his contract terminated in January.

Having been left out of the squads for both the Premier League and Europa League, Sokratis did not feature for Arsenal at all during the first half of the current season.

He played alongside Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in north London as well as at Borussia Dortmund so knows what to expect from the striker and his former team-mates – but believes they can be kept quiet over the two legs of their round-of-16 clash.



File photo dated 02-02-2021 of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Issue date: Wednesday March 3, 2021.




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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says it is a ‘massive week’ for the club with a Europa League last-16 tie against Olympiakos, as well as a North London derby against Tottenham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

“It is tough to play against top players,” he said on Wednesday.

“We know Aubameyang and (Alexandre) Lacazette are great players and if they have their day they can decide a match, however tomorrow we will be the ones to win the match and have a great evening.

“As a far as I am concerned it is a bit bizarre (to be playing Arsenal), as two months ago I was team-mates with many of these guys from Arsenal.

“This is not something that you get every day in football. However, it is a major challenge for me. It’s a new challenge and my mind is set on winning.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley’s draw with Arsenal
  • Arsenal and Olympiakos have previously met on 10 occasions across all European competitions, with no encounter ending level and both teams winning five times each.
  • Olympiakos knocked out Arsenal in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League last season; the Gunners last suffered back-to-back eliminations at the hands of the same side in 2012-13 & 2013-14 against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League.
  • Against sides from a specific country they have faced more than 10 times in major UEFA competition, only against Italian (55 per cent) and French (54 per cent) opposition have Arsenal won a higher share of their matches than against Greek teams (10/20 – 50 per cent).
  • Olympiakos have won only two of their last 11 matches against English sides in major European competition (D2 L7, excluding qualifiers), but both wins came against Arsenal, in the UEFA Champions League in September 2015 and in the UEFA Europa League in February 2020.
  • Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has assisted eight goals in the UEFA Europa League since the beginning of last season, the joint-most of any player along with Sporting Braga’s Wenderson Galeno, who has played five more games.

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