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Mellberg warns Olympiacos must be cautious

Published: Monday 5 December 2011, 12.08CET
It may be a changed Arsenal FC side that Olympiacos FC take on seeking victory on Tuesday, but Olof Mellberg is wary of any lineup that Arsène Wenger can put out.
by Matthew Spiro
Mellberg warns Olympiacos must be cautious
Olof Mellberg in training ahead of his side's game against Arsenal ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 5 December 2011, 12.08CET

Mellberg warns Olympiacos must be cautious

It may be a changed Arsenal FC side that Olympiacos FC take on seeking victory on Tuesday, but Olof Mellberg is wary of any lineup that Arsène Wenger can put out.

The Arsenal FC side Olympiacos FC need to beat on Tuesday to have the best chance of UEFA Champions League progress may not require a result in Greece but Olof Mellberg remains wary of their visitors.

Arsenal have already won Group F but after a slow start Olympiacos are a point behind second-placed Olympique de Marseille. Olympiacos would be through with a victory provided OM do not prevail at Borussia Dortmund, and a draw would also be enough for Mellberg's side should the German champions win by four goals or fewer.

It looks likely that Arsène Wenger will rest players in Piraeus with qualification secure but Mellberg is not taking that as a fillip for Olympiacos. "We have to try to win against Arsenal and then we'll see what happens in Dortmund," the Sweden defender told "Arsenal are already through but I don't know if that'll be a big advantage. Who knows, maybe Wenger will throw in all of the youngsters and they'll play an amazing game!

"We just don't know what they will do. They have a great squad and whoever plays it won't be easy for us to win. But we are playing at home and we'll focus on our own game. Hopefully we can get the win. "

Arsenal's dominance of the group was far from a certainty when the season began, with many pundits wondering if Wenger's team were in decline after the departures of Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri. Mellberg, who spent four years in England with Aston Villa FC never once experiencing victory against Arsenal, was not so sure.

"I know Arsenal well because we studied them a lot before the first game," he said. "They have a lot of new players this season and after a bad start it looks like they're starting to find form. I don't know if this Arsenal side is weaker than past teams: It depends which past teams you compare them to.

"I played in England for a long time and I remember the Arsenal team that went the whole season without losing. That side was probably the best team ever. So if we compare them now with the team they had then, we can say they are weaker. But like us they have improved as the season has gone on, so I think it'll be a good game. "

Having lost their first two Group F fixtures, including a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, Olympiacos bounced back by beating Dortmund 3-1 and, a fortnight ago, winning 1-0 in Marseille to give themselves a shot at the knockout phase. "When the draw was made I thought it looked tight," Mellberg said. "Obviously Arsenal seemed slight favourites, but I thought Dortmund, Marseille and ourselves were all strong teams. I'm really not surprised that everything is going to be decided in the final game."

Last updated: 06/12/11 9.28CET

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