Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has challenged his players to rise above the heated atmosphere expected to greet the Gunners when they take on Olympiacos on Thursday.
Arteta will be keen for his side to put themselves into a strong position to continue their Europa League quest with victory in the opening leg of their round of 32 clash against the Greek champions-elect in Athens.
The sold-out Karaiskakis Stadium is often a difficult place for opposing players and, with Arsenal’s side containing a number of youngsters, the evening will be a stern test of their resolve.
Arteta is confident his younger players can handle it and wants to see the same reaction regardless of their experience to date.
“It is part of the process,” he said.
“You don’t know until you expose them. They can have the best intention but they need to go to a stadium like here and when they make a mistake or a bad decision, have the courage to try again and play again.
“And I want to see that in my players, whether they are 17 or 35. That’s what I expect from them. If they keep trying, they have my full support.
“If they hide after that, I don’t like it. But what I’ve seen up to now, every time they play on that field they are responding really, really well. That’s what I am hoping and I am sure they will do it.”
The Greek side drew 2-2 at home with Tottenham in the Champions League group stage, but manager Pedro Martins expects a very different test against their north London rivals.
“Tottenham and Arsenal are two completely different teams, with different intentions from the coach, different approaches and different features,” Martins said as reported by the club website.
“Tottenham has experience and physicality, while Arsenal has young players with very good technique. They have no similarities.
“We are fully prepared for two matches against a very good opponent. The only way we can do it on tomorrow’s match is with our fans on our side. I say this in all honesty, since it’s difficult for any team to face us at our stadium.
“We had only one loss on the last 12 matches, and it was by Bayern Munich, which aims for the title. If we play with courage and bravely tomorrow, we have good chances of defeating a very good team.”