Arsenal travel to Greece to face Olympiacos on Tuesday in somewhat unusual circumstances. For the first time in recent seasons, the Gunners have absolutely nothing riding on the result of their last Champions League group game.
Quite the opposite, actually.
While the general mood seems to indicate that this will be little more than a run-around in the warmer climes of Piraeus on the Mediterranean coast, it is, on the contrary, a game of no mean significance to Arsenal.
Momentum is vital in sport. Winning is a habit. And as we are all too aware, so is losing. I don’t know about you, but I was a bit concerned after a draw and a loss in quick succession last week, and was most relieved after our clinical, comprehensive victory over Wigan.
Although Arsenal will be sending what amounts to a reserve team to Greece, it is essential that Arsenal, as a club, keep on winning. It is also worth bearing in mind that this is a crucial game for Olympiacos, which can still qualify for the knock-out phase of the Champions League. So Arsenal cannot just go there and be turned over.
There are tricky Premier League fixtures in the immediate future–Everton, Manchester City and Aston Villa will all be challenging—and if Arenal's second string can do the business against Olympiacos, the squad, on the whole, will be buzzing.
In addition to the general feel-good factor that a positive result in Piraeus will bring, there is actually a lot riding on this game for some individuals. Players on the fringes of first team selection, players with one foot out of the door and players on that precarious cusp between acceptance as “Arsenal quality” or not.
Here are five Gunners who will be under the microscope in the Mediterranean Tuesday night.