Arsenal have drawn old foes Olympiacos in the Europa League last 16, setting up a 22-day spell of five crucial fixtures that will determine the outcome of the club’s season.
Hello, old friend. For the sixth time in 12 seasons, Arsenal will face Olympiacos in European competition. The past five ties have been evenly split with five wins apiece in the legs, and this season will see Arsenal, somehow, manage to play a the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium twice.
Taking on Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday, a welcome one week break follows before a trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley, which is the beginning of a hectic March schedule. It will be a test of willpower, fitness and skill; one that while daunting, there can be no qualms about given the near-miss of not being involved in the Europa League at all.
With the draw made, Arsenal will take on Olympiacos in the away leg first, something Tottenham were also due to do for their tie with Dinamo Zagreb. As per UEFA rules, two sides from the same city can’t play at home on the same day, which has moved Tottenham’s fixtures around. The reason for Arsenal not having their fixtures reversed is due to them being the national Cup winners, as per Dale Johnson.
Arsenal fixture list: Gunners to face Spurs and Olympiacos in crazy March schedule
What it does mean is that Spurs needn’t trek across Europe before the NLD – which sandwiches both Europa League ties – presenting them with a potential advantage. Playing away first it always favoured, but perhaps not on this occasion. This can, however, be reversed if COVID restrictions allow, meaning both north London sides could travel away for their first leg.
Nonetheless, the fixtures are as they are and no complaints can be had. It’s the same for everyone, after all. As March approaches, here is Arsenal‘s schedule:
- March 6: Burnley vs AFC – Premier League
- March 11: Olympiacos vs AFC – Europa League
- March 14: AFC vs Tottenham – Premier League
- March 18: AFC vs Olympiacos – Europa League
- March 21: West Ham vs AFC – Premier League
Given the calibre of teams left in the competition, drawing Olympiacos must be seen as favourable, even if they are still at this stage for a reason and racing clear in the Greek Super League with a 12-point lead at the summit and having lost just once in the division.
Sokratis’ Olympiacos were not among the preferred options, sure, but it’s a chance for revenge. Heck of a three weeks, that.