Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes that the Gunners' chances of qualification will rest on the shoulders of Mesut Ozil's ability to dominate. The German has been in brilliant form this season, piling up 12 assists, more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.
The Gunners have been hit by a spate of injury woes with their midfield pairing of Santi Cazorla out till late in the year with knee ligament problems. Coquelin is out till February while Cazorla's season may have ended after the Spaniard had knee surgery following an incident against Norwich.
The onus is now on Ozil to show the path for the Gunners, with their other match-winner Alexis Sanchez also nursing a hamstring injury. The Chilean is expected to be back later in the month but will be a big miss for their crucial clash against Olympiacos.
"Arsenal need a big performance from Ozil tonight. They need him to grab hold of this tie by grabbing hold of the ball and, in the absence of the injured Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez, dictate the tempo and create the openings," Alan Smith wrote for the Telegraph.
"The German has stepped up this season to prove he can make a difference in the big games. Well, this is certainly one of those. Huge responsibility rests on Ozil's shoulders."
The former Arsenal man also has reservations about Mathieu Flamini's positional sense and is concerned that the Frenchman does not have the tenacity like his compatriot Coquelin to rise to the occasion. Calum Chambers is another option who can play in that role, but Arsene Wenger is unlikely to give the England international his first start in such a crucial encounter.
"It is just as important that Arsenal retain the balance between defence and attack by making sure they don't over-commit. That could be a possibility if Mathieu Flamini stands in for the injured Francis Coquelin. Flamini's positional discipline is nowhere near as sound. The Frenchman has a tendency to get attracted to the ball," Smith added.