Ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League tie with Olympiacos – a game which could see the Greek side qualify for the knock-out stages – former Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg has warned his teammates not to take this Arsenal side lightly.
Mellberg, a former sporter of a Hurculean beard which is now much more kempt, knows the Gunners well from his time in England but suggested comparisons with teams of that era are spurious.
Speaking to UEFA.com, the Swede said, “I know Arsenal well because we studied them a lot before the first game. They have a lot of new players this season and after a bad start it looks like they’re starting to find form. I don’t know if this Arsenal side is weaker than past teams: It depends which past teams you compare them to.
“I played in England for a long time and I remember the Arsenal team that went the whole season without losing. That side was probably the best team ever. So if we compare them now with the team they had then, we can say they are weaker. But like us they have improved as the season has gone on, so I think it’ll be a good game. ”
And with Arsenal set to rest big name stars like Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta and others, the home side might be viewed as favourites, but Mellberg believes it would be foolish to underesimate the Group F winners with players out to prove a point to the manager.
“Arsenal are already through but I don’t know if that’ll be a big advantage,”he said. “Who knows, maybe Wenger will throw in all of the youngsters and they’ll play an amazing game!”
“We just don’t know what they will do. They have a great squad and whoever plays it won’t be easy for us to win.”