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Preview: Olympiacos vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Olympiacos vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:390061: from db_amp
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday's Premier League fixture between Arsenal and Newcastle United.

Arsenal travel to Greece to face Olympiacos in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches.

Meanwhile, the home team play their first game of the season in this competition having finished behind Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League group stages.

Match preview

While Mikel Arteta will acknowledge that his players have a long way to go to meet his expectations and fulfil their own potential, the Spaniard will be delighted that his side have managed to put together a lengthy undefeated streak.

Although half of their most recent results have been draws, the 4-0 demolition of Newcastle United at the weekend suggested that Arteta is beginning to get his message across to a group which have under-performed for a number of years.

Mesut Ozil and Nicolas Pepe both got in on the act against the Magpies, contributing two goals and two assists between them, but the playmakers need to find some consistency if they are to hold down a place in the starting lineup on a regular basis.

The same can be said of Alexandre Lacazette, who ended a two-month wait for a goal at the weekend, while the partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz has helped Arsenal record successive clean sheets.

Despite progressing through to this stage as group winners, Arsenal head into Thursday's encounter having failed to win any of their last three games in this competition.

The Premier League giants take on opponents who are no strangers to North London foes this season having already squared off against Spurs in the Champions League.

Although Olympiacos are now minus Daniel Podence, who has moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers, a 2-2 draw at the Karaiskakis Stadium and taking a two-goal lead in the reverse fixture before succumbing to defeat will give Pedro Martins hope ahead of this double-header.

Olympiacos are also on a high right now, putting together an 18-match unbeaten run since the beginning of December to put the club at the top of their domestic table by two points.

While attempting to seal a league and cup double may be the priority, Martins and his squad will also feel that there is a window of opportunity to go further in this competition, providing that they can avoid defeat on Thursday.

Olympiacos Champions League form: DLLLLW
Olympiacos form (all competitions): DWDWWW

Arsenal Europa League form: WWWDLD
Arsenal form (all competitions): DDDWDW

Team News

Having ended his goal drought at the weekend, Lacazette is likely to start down the middle, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah dropping down to the substitutes' bench.

Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli are expected to come back into advanced roles, while Lucas Torreira may replace Granit Xhaka.

Mustafi could keep his place in the backline, with Pablo Mari having to make do with a spot among the replacements, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac are in line to be recalled.

January signing Ahmed Hassan is in line to start for Olympiacos after impressing in recent games, but fellow addition Emre Mor is likely to be on the bench.

Olympiacos possible starting lineup:
Sa; Elabdellaoui, Cisse, Semedo, Tsimikas; Masouras, Camara, Bouchalakis, Lovera; El-Arabi, Hassan

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Torreira, Ceballos; Pepe, Willock, Martinelli; Lacazette

We say: Olympiacos 1-1 Arsenal

While Arsenal will expect to come through this tie over two legs, the anticipated changes from Arteta could result in this contest being hard-fought in Greece. Home advantage may prove key, and we feel that Olympiacos will do enough to earn a share of the spoils.

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