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Arsenal vs. Olympiacos: Europa Odds, Live Stream, TV Schedule

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2020

Arsenal's French striker Alexandre Lacazette watches the ball as he prepares to shoot to open the scoring during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg football match between Olympiakos and Arsenal at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, on February 20, 2020. - Arsenal won the game 1-0. (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP) (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images)
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette was rested at the weekend and should be fresh enough to be Arsenal's match-winner again when the Gunners host Olympiacos in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League last 32 on Thursday.

The Frenchman's late goal in Athens, Greece, last week makes the Gunners firm favourites to progress and continue their bid to return to the final for the second season running.

Head coach Mikel Arteta showed how much he rates the importance of the competition by starting first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno last week, before leaving Lacazette on the bench for Sunday's 3-2 win over Everton in the Premier League.

While the Gunners were overcoming the Toffees, Olympiacos were winning 1-0 away to PAOK to extend their lead atop the Greek Super League to five points.

Pedro Martins' squad is not short of quality, notably in the form of veteran winger Mathieu Valbuena, who caused Arsenal problems during the first leg.

        

Date: Thursday, February 27

Time: 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET

TV Info: BT Sport 3

Live Stream: BT Sport appB/R Live

        

Odds

  • Arsenal: -200 (bet $200 to win $100)
  • Olympiacos: +540 (bet $100 to  win $540)
  • Draw: +340

Odds per Caesars Palace.

       

Lacazette's 81st-minute finish from close range was his second goal in as many games to end a barren drought.

The former Lyon ace is steadily rediscovering his confidence while also showcasing intelligent movement both inside and outside the box.

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

2 - Alexandre Lacazette has found the net in each of his last two games in all competitions for Arsenal, after failing to score in each of the nine before that. Back-to-back. https://t.co/XmEo5fHZ9H

Having Lacazette fit and firing makes Arsenal's forward line arguably the most feared in the tournament. His partnership with the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who bagged a brace against Everton, is too much for most defences.

Who joins the marquee strikers is a tricky choice for Arteta, although he is blessed with a few quality options. Club-record signing Nicolas Pepe has been playing up to his £72 million price tag in his last two starts, notching a goal and three assists.

Pepe didn't start in Athens, with Gabriel Martinelli instead beginning out wide. The 18-year-old Brazilian has been a revelation during his first season at Arsenal, scoring 10 goals in all competitions.

The Gunners' firepower will be too much for an Olympiacos side needing to seize the initiative. Beating Leno won't be easy, though, after the Germany international made key saves early on and defiantly turned away crosses during the first leg.

Leno was an unbreakable last line of defence for the Gunners.
Leno was an unbreakable last line of defence for the Gunners.MB Media/Getty Images

The decision to start Leno ahead of backup goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez hinted Arteta may be making the competition a priority. Playing the backup stopper in the early rounds in Europe was a favourite ploy of predecessors Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger, but the current head coach has already broken that habit.

Making the Europa League his main focus would be a wise strategy. Lifting the trophy is a route back into the UEFA Champions League, something ninth-place Arsenal are unlikely to achieve by finishing in the Premier League top four.

Leno will likely be called on again, particularly if Valbuena looks as lively as he did a week ago.

John Hill @johnhillsport

It is great to see Mathieu Valbuena going strong still. A real classy player in his prime. Still looks to be one of the best players on the pitch here.

Keeping the 35-year-old under wraps will be key to stopping the lines of supply to 20-goal striker Youssef El-Arabi. The burly target man is aggressive enough in the air to bully Arsenal centre-backs David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi.

As long as the Gunners deny the visitors their familiar route to goal, Lacazette and Co. will do enough to book their safe passage into the last 16.

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