Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – WednesdayStats
You have to go all the way back to 1999/2000 for the last time Arsenal failed to make it out of their Champions League group.
Olympiakos v Arsenal, Wednesday 9th December 2015, 19.45, BT Sport Europe
Although, the Gunners are facing the very real prospect of exiting Europe’s premier club competition at the first hurdle this midweek.
Arsene Wenger’s side must win by two clear goals (or a 3-2 win would suffice) but the injury-hit travellers don’t look up to what’s a much tougher job than the media would allow you to believe. Olympiakos are no mugs – especially in Piraeus.
The Greeks are awesome operators at their Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki home with passionate supporters creating one of the most hostile atmospheres on the continent. The Legend have won 13 of their previous 17 home group-games in the Champions League and have lost just twice in their previous 28 Piraeus fixtures by that magic two-goal margin – to PSG and Bayern Munich.
The hosts may have exited the competition at this stage in three of the past four campaigns but they’ve beaten the likes of Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Benfica, Dortmund (and Arsenal) when returning stunning W17-D0-L5 figures in front of their adoring fans since 2008 in the Champions League.
Olympiakos have scored in 13 of their most recent 15 home games in this competition, have netted 34 goals in 12 Greek Super League matches this season and only failed to notch against the mighty Bayern Munich in 20 outings in all competitions – in 17 of those fixtures Marco Silva’s team struck at least twice.
English clubs have far from happy memories from trips to the Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki, too. The Legend have W5-D1-L0 in six home Champions League ties against Premier League teams with Arsenal losing each of their three previous games at Olympiakos; curiously, all three came on Matchday 6.
The Gunners have actually been beaten in seven of their last eight group-stage finales now but the damage has already been done to the Londoners thanks to their back-to-back losses in their opening two outings. With a road record of W7-D2-L4 in the Champions League there’s hope but the guests have failed to keep their sheets clean in nine of their last 12 on their travels.
Looking at group-games alone, Arsenal have W5-D1-L4 since 2013/14 and only once shutout their hosts in 12.
With Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta absent along with Alexis Sanchez (involved in seven of their nine Champions League goals this season) and Santi Cazorla, it’s looking like a first early exit in 16 seasons.
For the reasons above, I feel like Olympiakos are hugely underrated here and so I’ll be taking the 4/5 on the Greeks in the Double Chance market as well as having a dabble on Over 2.5 Goals at 8/11. Four of The Legend’s five group-games have broken the two-goal barrier as well as six of their most recent nine in Piraeus; four even featuring four or more goals.
As we know, Arsenal must go on the offensive so we could well be in for a ding-dong battle more reminiscent of a basketball match as both clubs look to preserve their Champions League status until 2016.
Olympiakos Double Chance @ 4/5
Over 2.5 Goals @ 8/11
Chelsea v Porto, Wednesday 9th December 2015, 19.45, BT Sport 2
Chelsea’s comedy sketch show’s latest edition was arguably their best yet. The Blues, beaten at home by Bournemouth, have now slid to within two points of the Premier League relegation zone with Jose Mourinho suffering an eighth league defeat in a season for the very first time.
Skipper John Terry misses out again in midweek as the West Londoners bid to keep their Champions League dreams alive. Winning the competition now appears their best chance for qualification in 2016/17 and a draw (along with a Dynamo Kiev win against whipping boys Maccabi Tel Aviv) will seal their spot in the Last 16.
Chelsea have managed just one win in each month of the Premier League season thus far but they have fared a little better on the continent, winning three of their first five games. Across the past four years they’ve returned W16-D3-L2 when hosting Champions League opposition, leading at the interval in 18 of those contests.
And the Blues are rarely stopped in their tracks at the Bridge when European visitors arrive at the group-stage (W28-D8-L1). Even so, could you trust Chelsea to produce the goods at odds-on quotes of 20/21 having already lost to Crystal Palace, Southampton, Liverpool and Bournemouth on home soil this season? No.
Surprisingly, only two of Chelsea’s seven goals in Europe this campaign have come from open play and they’re unlikely to find things easy against the Portuguese giants. Porto may have W0-D2-L14 in 16 visits to England (failing to score in four of their last five trips) but they’re very capable opponents.
The Dragons have avoided defeat in their last five Champions League away group-games, scoring at least twice in each.
Porto have W5-D4-L2 of their previous 11 European away days (defeats at Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich) and Julen Lopetegui’s charges are actually unbeaten in any competition on the road since the knockout stages of last season’s Champions League at Bayern.
The guests’ last league loss came in January; they’ve won five on the spin on their travels in all competitions (leaking once) and have conceded a solitary goal in six Primeira Liga fixtures in preparation.
There’s no way we can justify supporting Mou’s blues at miniscule prices so I’ll put my faith in Porto to avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge. They’ve scored in 13 of their 14 European away days since 2013/14 and should be able to notch against one of the Premier League’s worst defences, increasing the size of the task ahead of Chelsea on Wednesday night.
Porto Double Chance @ 20/23
*Prices correct at time of publication