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Arsenal vs Olympiacos: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

Arsenal are in the driving seat of their last-16 tie against Olympiacos after a 3-1 victory in Piraeus.

Mohamed Elneny  celebrates scoring in the first leg
Mohamed Elneny celebrates scoring in the first leg AFP

Arsenal appear to be in command of their round of 16 tie against Olympiacos having won the first leg 3-1 in Piraeus, but they will be wary of opponents who came from behind to eliminate them from the UEFA Europa League in similar circumstances last season.

• Arsenal claimed maximum points in the autumn from UEFA Europa League Group B, doing the double over Rapid Wien, Dundalk and fellow qualifiers Molde while scoring 20 goals – the most ever by an English team in a UEFA Europa League group – before edging out Benfica in the round of 32, a 1-1 draw in Rome followed by a 3-2 comeback win in Piraeus in which captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice, including an 87th-minute winner.

• Despite losing their last five fixtures in UEFA Champions League Group C, Olympiacos managed to take third place above Marseille to secure an eighth appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. Further progress was made as they beat PSV Eindhoven 5-4 on aggregate, a 4-2 home win followed by a 2-1 defeat in Eindhoven that proved undamaging thanks to Egyptian international Ahmed Hassan's decisive 88th-minute strike.

Previous meetings
• Arsenal equalled a UEFA Europa League record by making it 11 away games in the competition without defeat as they overcame Olympiacos 3-1 in the first leg with spectacular goals from unlikely scorers, Martin Ødegaard and Gabriel both grabbing their first in UEFA club competition before substitute Mohamed Elneny registered only his sixth in 76 European outings. The home side's goal, conversely, came from a familiar source, Greek Super League top scorer Youssef El-Arabi.

• The clubs were involved in a dramatic round of 32 tie last season, Olympiacos losing the first home leg 0-1 to a goal from Alexandre Lacazette but winning the return in London 2-1 after extra time thanks to a 120th-minute El-Arabi strike.

• Prior to that tie the clubs had been paired together four times in the UEFA Champions League group stage, and on every occasion Arsenal had staged the home fixture on Matchday 2 and Olympiacos the return game on Matchday 6.

• The first six matches between them – in 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2012/13 – all ended in home wins, but in 2015/16 the roles were reversed, Olympiacos winning 3-2 away only to succumb to a 0-3 defeat at home, Olivier Giroud's hat-trick enabling Arsenal to pip their hosts to the runners-up spot in the group on the head-to-head rule and therefore secure a 16th successive appearance in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase.

• Arsenal's record at home to Greek opponents is W6 D2 L2, the successive defeats by Olympiacos coming in the two most recent fixtures.

• Those two wins at Arsenal are Olympiacos's only victories in England, 15 of their 18 visits having ended in defeat including the first 12. Since beating the Gunners in February 2020 they have returned to England twice, losing 1-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League round of 16 and 3-0 to Manchester City in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage.

Great Arsenal Europa League goals

Form guide
• Eighth in the 2019/20 Premier League, Arsenal ensured a 25th consecutive season in Europe by winning the FA Cup under new manager Mikel Arteta – the club's record 14th triumph in the competition – with a 2-1 victory over London rivals Chelsea in the final. Their third successive UEFA Europa League campaign was ended in the round of 32 by Olympiacos.

• UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 seasons in a row from 1998/99 to 2016/17, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt in 2017/18, losing to eventual winners Atlético de Madrid, before going one step further and making it to the 2018/19 final, where they were defeated 4-1 by Chelsea in Baku. They have been group winners on all four UEFA Europa League appearances – an unprecedented feat – and this season became the 11th team in the competition to top their section with maximum points thanks to wins against Rapid (2-1 a, 4-1 h), Dundalk (3-0 h, 4-2 a) and Molde (4-1 h, 3-0 a).

• Arsenal have won both of their two previous UEFA Europa League round of 16 ties, beating AC Milan in 2017/18 (2-0 a, 3-1 h) and Rennes in 2018/19 (1-3 a, 3-0 h). Those wins followed seven successive eliminations in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

• The Gunners' overall UEFA Europa League home record, including that Piraeus win against Benfica, is W16 D3 L3. Last season's defeat by Olympiacos ended a seven-match unbeaten run at the Arsenal Stadium in the competition's knockout phase that incorporated six victories.

• Last season's extra-time defeat by Olympiacos was the first time in 16 UEFA competition ties that Arsenal had gone out after winning away in the first leg. They have been 3-1 winners on two previous occasions, most recently against Omonoia in the first round of the 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (3-0 h), when they were the holders and went on to reach a second successive final.

Great Olympiacos Europa League goals

• Champions of Greece for the 45th time in 2019/20 – their first title since 2017 – Olympiacos also lifted the Greek Cup for the 28th time to complete their 18th domestic double. Additionally they played 16 European matches, starting their campaign in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round and ending it in the UEFA Europa League round of 16, where they were eliminated by Wolves 2-1 on aggregate.

• This season Pedro Martins' side kicked off their UEFA Champions League adventure in the play-offs, where they overcame Omonoia (2-0 h, 0-0 a), but despite opening their Group C campaign with a last-gasp 1-0 win in Piraeus against Marseille, two defeats without scoring against Porto (0-2 a, 0-2 h) and Manchester City (0-3 a, 0-1 h) limited their ambition to taking third place, which they managed on the away goals rule in their head-to-head comparison with Marseille after losing 2-1 at the Stade Vélodrome on Matchday 5.

• Through to the UEFA Europa League knockout phase following a mid-season transfer from the UEFA Champions League for the sixth time, Olympiacos are competing in the round of 16 for the fourth time but have never crossed this threshold, losing all three previous ties – against Metalist Kharkiv in 2011/12 (1-0 a, 1-2 h), Beşiktaş in 2016/17 (1-1 h, 1-4 a) and Wolves last term.

• Last season's dramatic extra-time win at Arsenal was one of just two away victories for Olympiacos in their last nine UEFA Europa League knockout phase ties, the other seven having all ended in defeat, with the loss in Eindhoven last time out the only one that did not lead to elimination.

• Olympiacos have won only two of the 11 previous UEFA ties in which they lost the first leg at home, in both cases overturning a 0-1 defeat, most recently against Arsenal last season. This is the fourth time that they have lost the first home leg 1-3, the third instance being in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup round of 32 against Saint-Étienne (1-2 a).

Ødegaard on 'big win' for Arsenal

Links and trivia
• Aubameyang's winner against Benfica in the round of 32 second leg was Arsenal's 100th goal in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, making them the tenth club to reach that landmark – although arch rivals Tottenham beat them to it by a day.

• Sokratis Papastathopoulos joined Olympiacos in January after being released from his Arsenal contract. Having joined the Gunners in 2018 he made 69 appearances in all competitions, including the 2019 UEFA Europa League final, and scored six goals.

• Papastathopoulos and Aubameyang were also team-mates at Borussia Dortmund from 2013 to 2018.

• Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal) and Bruma (Olympiacos) spent the second half of 2018/19 together at RB Leipzig.

• José Holebas had five seasons in the English Premier League with Watford before returning for a second spell with Olympiacos at the end of last season.

• Olympiacos midfielder Yann M'Vila spent 2015/16 on loan at Premier League side Sunderland, while Andreas Bouchalakis is a former Nottingham Forest player, having spent 2017/18 with the club in the English Championship.

• Arsenal striker Lacazette and Olympiacos midfielder Mathieu Valbuena are former Lyon (2015–17) and France (2013–15) team-mates.

• José Sá and Rúben Semedo (Olympiacos) are Portugal team-mates of Arsenal's Cédric, while Hassan and Elneny are fellow Egyptian internationals.

• Olympiacos are one of five clubs appearing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second successive season, along with Manchester United, Rangers, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk.

• Olympiacos concluded the first phase of the Greek Super League at the weekend with a 16-point lead at the top of the table, having won 21 and drawn four of their 26 matches, while Arsenal are tenth in the Premier League despite coming from behind to beat local rivals Tottenham 2-1 at home on Sunday.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Arsenal's record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-5 v Valencia, 1979/80 European Cup Winners' Cup final
3-2 v Sampdoria, 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-final
1-4 v Galatasaray, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup final
7-6 v Roma, 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16

• Olympiacos have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.