Olympiacos Preview: A chance for Arshavin to show what he could offer?

This is not a game I’m hugely looking forward to…
Arsene talks about picking a side capable of winning.  I have no doubt the team he’ll pick is statistically capable of victory, but he’s made it very clear it’s not his priority, and when a manager does that the players often respond with a lacklustre display.  A few weeks ago he spoke of going to win this game and subsequently the group.  Now, with our league form faltering, he’s taken the opportunity to rest a host of key players ahead of the game with West Brom on Saturday.  It’s a decision I’m in favour of: I’m not sure that winning the group brings with it a sufficient advantage to warrant persisting with a drained first XI.

There are reprieves for neglected members of the squad…
The likes of Arshavin and Chamakh haven’t even made the bench in the last couple of games, and are now set to start.   Even though both are clearly heading to the exit door, you have to think there’s a chance for them to show they have something to offer in the remaining Premier League games before January.  Some players, however, are in purely because of a lack of alternatives.  Somehow, I don’t foresee it being a problem that Sebastien Squillaci is about to become cup-tied in the Champions League.

There are a couple of obvious youngsters missing from that squad…
Thomas Eisfeld and Damian Martinez are closer to the first-team squad than many of the players who will be involved tonight, but due to a quirk of the registration process are not actually available for Champions League selection.  Eisfeld is likely to get a further chance to impress in next week’s Carling Cup tie with Bradford City.  Nevertheless, it’ll good to see youngsters like Jernade Meade get a run-out – I was impressed with the quick left-back’s cameo at Reading.  Keep an eye out too for Chuba Akpom – the 17 year old may not make it off the bench, but is highly thought of among the coaching staff and a nifty goalscorer at youth level.

Get well soon, Peter Hill-Wood…
While I’ll admit the Chairman might’ve made the odd PR gaffe, it’s impossible to question the distinction and commitment with which he has served Arsenal Football Club.  He represents an important connection to the club’s history – a connection that is growing ever thinner – so I hope he recovers fully and is able to return to his post as soon as possible.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.