Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech said Wednesday he expected a “playoff” Champions League game against Olympiacos on Dec. 9 as the two teams vie for a spot in the knockout phase.
“It will be like a playoff game because the head-to-head counts and we have things to catch up with,” Cech said on his website, as third-placed Arsenal trail the Greek side by three points in Group F with one match to play.
“We lost 2-3 at home and the maths are easy,” added the 33-year-old helmet-wearing Czech Republic keeper, who had joined Arsenal from Chelsea before this season.
“They can even lose under some circumstances while we have to win by two goals. It won’t be easy but I believe we’ll be able to handle it well and advance.”
On Tuesday, the Gunners saw off Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 at home with first-half goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez who added another on 69 minutes. Olympiacos were meanwhile crushed by group leaders Bayern 4-0 in Munich.
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Cech said Tuesday’s results had brought “exactly the scenario we needed” as both Arsenal and Bayern won, leaving the playoff door open for the London side.
“I’m glad it went like this and Bayern in the other game also confirmed being the favorites,” said Cech.
Against Zagreb, who are fourth in Group F without a chance to make the playoffs, “it ended up well,” he added.
“They defended well and we knew we had to be patient. It took us some time to score the first one but when we did we had more room. We added another one fast and that decided the game.”
“I’m happy with the clean sheet and with having managed the game easily and having it under control all the time.”
Meanwhile, former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka has admitted he is likely to be on the move once more after his Mumbai City team failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Indian Super League.
The former French international, who is a player-coach, accused his charges of a lack of fighting spirit after a 1-1 home draw against bottom-placed Kerala Blasters on Thursday night effectively ended their season.
“I don’t think I will come back. You have to speak to the team management,” a dejected Anelka was quoted as saying during a post-match press conference.
“The main reason behind the poor run of the team is lack of fighting spirit.
“The way we played, we don’t deserve to be in the semis. We can’t blame anybody. We lacked the desire to win,” he added.
Anelka, whose previous clubs include Real Madrid, Juventus and Arsenal, joined Mumbai City as a player in the inaugural edition of the ISL last year and was then appointed coach for the current season.
Since taking the helm, Anelka has reportedly had a number of bust-ups with players, including striker Sunil Chhetri, captain of India’s national side.
Although he appears to have lost his appetite for coaching, the 36-year-old held back from calling time on his playing career when asked about his future plans.
“I don’t know. I will have to rest and think what I need to do for the future,” he said.
Despite enjoying a trophy-laden career, Anelka has a long history of acrimonious exits from his clubs.
His last spell in European football ended when he was served with a five-match ban for an anti-semitic gesture known as a “quenelle” while playing for West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League.
His international career came to a halt after he launched a foul-mouthed tirade against coach Raymond Domenech during a match at the 2010 World Cup.