Arsenal v Olympiacos: Wenger backs midfielders to fill in for Diaby
Arsenal v Olympiacos: Arsene Wenger is confident his midfielders will be able to cope with the absence of injured Abou Diaby
Arsene Wenger admits Abou Diaby’s thigh injury is a “blow” to Arsenal but has challenged the Gunners’ midfielders to step up during his absence.
Diaby was forced off less than 20 minutes into Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea on Saturday and it was later confirmed the midfielder will be out of action for three weeks.
Gunners boss Wenger concedes that his side will miss Diaby’s strength in midfield during his lay-off but is expecting his squad to cope while he recovers from his latest injury setback.
“It is as an opportunity for somebody else to stand up and play, but it is a blow,” Wenger told a news conference on Tuesday. “Not only because we lost a good player but because he has qualities that the other players haven’t got.
“We have better balance size-wise and [in terms of] strength [when he is in the team] because he has power.
“We also have [Aaron] Ramsey, [Francis] Coquelin, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, [Jack] Wilshere, it depends on if you want to be more offensive. We have plenty of players who are in between higher up and lower down in midfield.
“[Mikel] Arteta can play higher and deeper as well. So we can put a deeper midfielder in like Coquelin and then Arteta can move forward.”
Arsenal v Olympiacos: Pre-match facts
• Olympiacos are in their 14th participation in the Champions League, reaching the round of 16 in 2007-08 and 2009-10.
• Arsenal have scored 348 goals in Uefa competition and conceded 145 in the Champions League, group stage to final.
• This was also the fixture on matchday two last season, Arsenal winning 2-1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain marked his Champions League debut with an early goal and Andre Santos scored his first for the club to secure the points despite David Fuster’s 27th-minute response.
• Arsenal, who finished third in the 2011-12 Premier League, are taking part in the group stage for the 15th season in a row. For only the second time in seven campaigns they did not have to negotiate a qualifying round.