Arsene Wenger is hopeful his midfield partnership of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini can guide Arsenal into the Champions League knockout stages. The Gunners travel to Greece to take on Olympiacos on 9 December in a game where they must win by two clear goals to reach the last 16 of the competition, or by one clear goal in a result that matches or surpasses the 3-2 scoreline from their first encounter.
But their attempts to do that will be undermined by the absence of midfielders Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin. Spain international Cazorla is facing up to four months out after undergoing knee surgery, while 24-year-old Coquelin is not expected to return until late January 2016 at the earliest after suffering knee ligament damage.
Wenger has previously mulled over the idea of using Calum Chambers in the holding midfield role. But the Gunners boss is hopeful Ramsey's finesse and Flamini's industry can see the club continue their run of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition for the 16th consecutive season.
"Our midfield is important in games like this, so Ramsey and Flamini will be important and must play well. I am confident they will," Wenger told a press conference on 8 December, the Mirror reports.
"It is important that we focus on the performance and the goals will come. When the goal will come, I do not know. But when we play well we have a chance to score. We might need to be patient. We must go into the game with the desire to win, knowing that we have to get both parts of the game – attacking and defending – well."
Arsenal lost at home to Olympiacos back in September, one of three defeats in the group stages that have left them on the brink of elimination. The Gunners will qualify for the Europa League should they come up short against the Greek champions.