Changes afoot for British sides

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: December 4 2012, 19:48 GMT

Our expert Andy Schooler previews Tuesday's action in the Champions League with Arsenal and Manchester City in action.

Chuba Akpom: Could get a start for Arsenal in Greece

I can't remember a more unappealing set of Champions League fixtures than the ones listed for Tuesday night.

All eight qualifiers from Groups A-D have already been determined, with top spot nailed down in two of them.

A tiresome-looking fixture list doesn't necessary mean punting opportunities are thin on the ground, but finding an angle given the circumstances surrounding these games is indeed very tough.

Admittedly Groups A and B still have that first place up for grabs, but you wonder how important that is given the squad Arsenal have picked for their trip to Olympiacos.

The Gunners must win to stand any chance of nailing down top spot but they have not won away from home on matchday six since 1999 and given things are out of their hands - they will need a favour from Montpellier whatever their own result - Arsene Wenger looks to be prioritising Saturday's Premier League clash with West Brom.

That's understandable given the fact Arsenal have now slipped to 10th in the table after Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Swansea.

"There are many players who need a rest, because they are on the verge of getting injured and some played with knocks,'' said Wenger after that defeat and so the weakened squad he has picked to travel to Greece should come as no great surprise.

Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen are arguably the only members of Wenger's first-choice XI on the plane, with a host of youngsters included.

Arsenal began to drift as soon as the squad was announced, but those looking to jump on the bandwagon by siding with Olympiacos should bear in mind that the Greeks already know they will finish third in the group regardless of Tuesday's results. They have only Europa League seeding to play for so could well be fielding a weakened team themselves.

If that's the case, there may be a bit of value in backing Arsenal's Chuba Akpom to find the net.

OK, you may not have heard of the youngster, but he's scored three times in the under-21 side's last six games and it's not like Wenger is shy to throw in the young guns in games like this.

All that's at stake for Manchester City following their poor results in Group D is third spot and a place in the Europa League.

It's questionable whether City will actually want to be playing in that competition for surely their Premier League hopes will be greater without the distraction of Thursday night football after Christmas.

On the other hand, Roberto Mancini does boast one of the strongest all-round squads in Europe so the additional games may help to keep his players happy.

However, with a Manchester derby looming, Tuesday's trip to Borussia Dortmund is a game that you sense may have to be sacrificed.

The sides drew 1-1 at the Emirates but Dortmund were clearly the better team - indeed so impressive have they been in this group that should be considered genuine contenders to go deep into the knockout stage.

Should they field their full team, you would have to fancy the hosts but such a line-up would appear unlikely given they are already assured of top spot.

Basically this is another guessing game until the teams are known.

Free feel to take an opinion on what may happen and chase a big-looking price but that's not for me. I'll be keeping the powder dry for Wednesday's coupon when much more will be riding on the outcome of the night's matches.

  • The Arsenal game is being televised live in the UK on ITV, with Tuesday night's other games all being shown on Sky Sports.

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