Arsenal Looks Toward the Weekend After Champions League Defeat

Paddy MillerContributor IIIDecember 7, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Lukasz Piszczek of Dortmund and Yossi Benayoun of Arsenal fight for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal FC and Borussia Dortmund  at Emirates Stadium on November 23, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsenal completed their UEFA Champions League Group F campaign losing, 3-1, away to Olympiacos.

Arsenal had already qualified to the knockout stages of the tournament as champions of the group, and Arsene Wenger made several changes to the lineup on Tuesday night to rest some key players and focus on the congested schedule of the Barclays Premier League.

Even with the youthful and somewhat inexperienced lineup, the Gunners showed moments of absolute confusion and hopelessness in their own third at times against their Greek opponents.

Young goalkeeper Vito Mannone replaced an injured Lukasz Fabianski, who earned a rare start but had to leave injured after he fell awkwardly on a dive in the first half.

Mannone would immediately commit a blunder by failing to control a ball rolling towards him and then failing to stop the subsequent shot resulting in the second goal for Olympiacos, but he would calm down and make some important saves in the remainder of the game.

However, even with Mannone settling into the game and making some strong stops, he would give up a clumsy rebound and concede a goal late in the game to Francois Modesto to give Olympiacos an insurance goal and a 3-1 win.

The Greek entrants did what they could to move on in the competition, but French counterparts Marseille were victorious on the same day, earning them a spot in the knockout stages. Olympiacos now has their ticket punched and will join Manchester City and Manchester United in the ever-inspiring Europa League.

The Gunners now look forward to a Saturday afternoon match at the Emirates Stadium with Everton.

Everton—who started off weak in the Premier League—now has been on an improved run of form which has seen them get to the top half table headed into their weekend matchup with Arsenal.

The Toffees have won two of their last three Premier League contests and will look to end a run of good showings at the Emirates for the Gunners.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from their midweek Champions League clash and bring a lineup that will feature the core players that did not feature on Tuesday.

The Gunners have booked their ticket into the knockout stages after we turn the calendar, but now the opportunity is there to focus on getting closer to qualification to next year's championship via a top-four finish in the Premier League.

There is no better time to change the tides of the table than during the winter.