Martinelli back in as Aubameyang call is made: The Arsenal team Arteta should pick vs Olympiacos


Arsenal are back in Europa League action when they host Olympiacos in their Round of 16 second leg tie at the Emirates.

Having secured a 3-1 aggregate lead at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium last time out the Gunners will be fully aware that the Greek champions will need an unlikely three goal swing to knock them out for a second consecutive season.

However, Mikel Arteta has insisted that the tie is far from over as his side seek to book their spot in the Europa League quarter finals.

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if the job was done.

“From what I’ve seen from Olympiacos and the amount of games that they have won in the last minutes and the belief that they have in that team it will be tough and they will try to put us under pressure so still a lot to play. “

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He is however, expected to rotate for the game ahead of another crucial Premier League match away to West Ham on Sunday.

With all that in mind football.london‘s Arsenal writers Kaya Kaynak and Chris Wheatley have decided who they would pick for Thursday night’s match.

Kaya Kaynak – Arsenal writer

With the tie against Olympiacos pretty much done and dusted I would say this is the perfect chance for Mikel Arteta to give some much deserved game time to Mat Ryan.

The Australian is a boyhood Gooner and deserves an opportunity given Leno’s mistakes in recent matches.

In defence I would swap out most of the back four from the North London Debry in order to rest a few key players for West Ham on Sunday.

That would mean Rob Holding and Pablo Mari coming in for David Luiz and Gabriel at centre back to start. I would then bring in Calum Chambers at right back and switch Cedric over to the left to give Kieran Tierney some much needed rest.

Gabriel and Pablo Mari in Arsenal training.

Into midfield and Granit Xhaka is yet against a constant. He has recovered well from his error at Burnley in two huge games over the past week and deserves a chance to continue that form.

Alongside him I would rest Thomas Partey who looked exhausted towards the end of the game against Spurs and give Dani Ceballos the opportunity to make amends for his second leg errors against Benfica in the last round.

Nicolas Pepe simply has to start after his game-deciding pass to Alexandre Lacazette on Sunday, while I would move Emile Smith Rowe into the middle to rest Martin Odegaard.

Over on the left my heart says that this seems like the perfect time to start Gabriel Martinelli although my head says that that is sadly unlikely to happen.

Up top Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has to start in order to avoid this disciplinary issue going on any longer than it has to. I though Arteta took the right decision in dropping him for the derby, but now it is time to move on.

Kaynak’s XI: Ryan; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Cedric; Xhaka, Ceballos; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Aubameyang.

Chris Wheatley – Chief Arsenal correspondent

Mikel Arteta shouldn’t take the second leg lightly despite having a three goal cushion against the Greek champions.

The Arsenal boss is likely to make a few changes and I would certainly rest Bukayo Saka after it was revealed that the youngster requires a fitness test before tomorrow’s game.

Olympiacos have nothing to lose and are capable of exploiting a makeshift defence, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see several players rotated for the match at Emirates Stadium.

Calum Chambers in action for Arsenal against Burnley

Bernd Leno should continue in goal despite his recent mistakes. Calum Chambers showed that he’s capable of playing at right-back and I think the Arsenal manager will be tempted to start him in defence.

Rob Holding and Pablo Mari need game time and could start, while Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos would be a midfield partnership capable of competing against Olympiacos.

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In attack Nicolas Pepe deserves minutes after another impressive cameo against Tottenham, whilst Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be looking to make up for breaking club protocol if he starts upfront.

Gabriel Martinelli hasn’t had much game time of late but he has been impressing in training and this would be the perfect match for him to showcase his qualities as a centre forward.

Wheatley’s XI: Leno; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Cedric; Elneny, Ceballos; Pepe, Odegaard, Martinelli; Aubameyang.





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