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Lee Dixon: Arsenal must man up for Olympiakos trip

Gervinho must improve his finishing

It's time for the Gunners to take responsibility otherwise their season may well soon be over.

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Lee Dixon was dismayed by Arsenal's defeat to Swansea at the weekend. Our man knows his old team need to rally if they're to save their season but do they have the necessary desire?

Can the real Arsenal please stand up? My patience with this team is wearing thin and I know I'm not the only one. Steve Bould blasted after Saturday's embarrassing 2-0 home defeat against Swansea. The defending for the two late goals was woeful but there are problems throughout the team, as Gervinho's wasted chance at 0-0 demonstrated. 

Take nothing away from Michael Laudrup's men, they're not seventh in the Premier League for nothing, and the Denmark legend is proving that he's an astute boss, but Arsenal shouldn't be giving away points at the Emirates. Where's the desire? Where's the commitment? Where's the team spirit?

Arsene Wenger must rally his players for their match against Olympiakos. Arsenal may have already qualified for the knockout stages but, if you can finish first in your Champions League group, you should definitely try to as the draw can make all the difference. Having gone out to Barcelona twice in recent seasons, Arsenal know that.

Some times, when things are going against you and the fans are on your back, playing away from home can come as a relief. I'm clutching at straws, however, and the trip to Athens is always tough. For most of the second-half, Arsenal retained the ball well against Swansea and they will need to do that here. However, the lack of pace and invention in midfield and up front is a worry. I would definitely demand more from the lack-lustre Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh.  

It finished 3-1 to the home side when Olympiakos came to the Emirates in October but Opta have given me one disconcerting stat: Arsenal have played away at Olympiakos twice before, both times on match day six, and lost both games. They need to reverse that trend on Wednesday but, much as it hurts me to say so, I don't trust them with my money - or yours - at the moment. Factor in the fact that they have won just seven of their last 29 on the road and the case for opposing them grows compelling. 

The first 20 minutes will be crucial. Thomas Vermaelen should marshall his team-mates to get behind the ball and aim to get through the opening exchanges without conceding. As the game progresses, they might be more adventurous and try to release Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky. 

Arsene Wenger has chosen to rest Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, which means youngsters are going to get their chances, but the manager needs to drum the team ethic in to all of his players. He's said they must stick together and I couldn't agree more. It's backs against the wall time and this is when you find out who wants to give their all for the cause and who would rather be at home. Time for the Gunners to take responsibility, otherwise their season will soon be over.

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Back the draw @ 3.613/5
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03 December 2012

Champions League

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