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Olof Mellberg will look to silence the Arsenal Stadium crowd once more as the man who scored the first goal at Arsenal FC's home returns to the scene of his triumph with new club Olympiacos FC.
The Swedish international registered 53 minutes into Arsenal's first competitive game at their new home on 19 August 2006, with his Aston Villa FC side earning a 1-1 draw. "I remember it very well," the defender recalled. "This ground will always hold happy memories for me because of that goal, and particularly because it got us a point. I did, however, also play here for Sweden against Brazil, when we lost 1-0."
Mellberg spent seven years in the Premier League with Villa before joining Juventus on a free transfer in the summer of 2008. While in Turin he made his UEFA Champions League debut at the age of 31 and returned to England as his side took on Chelsea FC in the first knockout round. Unfortunately for La Vecchia Signora, they lost 1-0 in London and followed it up with a 2-2 draw in Italy to bow out of the competition.
Having joined Olympaicos on a three-year contract in the summer, Mellberg put any lingering bad memories of the UEFA Champions League behind him as his side overcame AZ Alkmaar in Piraeus on Matchday 1. While things have not been easy at the club – with Zico replacing Temuri Ketsbaia as coach on the day of their Group H opener – he has quickly become a fixture in Olympiacos's back line, and is ever-present this season.
'Leaving his mark'
"It has gone well so far; I'm enjoying it very much," he enthused as he reflected on playing under former Brazil star Zico, who previously shone in the competition as coach of Fenerbahçe SK. "It was a tough time for the new manager to come in but he has got off to a great start; we've had some tough games and won them all. We are working well tactically in training and he is leaving his mark on our game.
"I have played against several Arsenal players but I don't know whether I can give my team-mates any particular advice," he added. "We all know about Arsenal, their players and the way they play. We need to focus on our own game and get something out of the match. We have defended well so far in the UEFA Champions League [Olympiacos have not conceded in five European games] and we need to continue like that."
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