CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Friday, January 22, 2010
Eddie Johnson looks to get another dose of playing time for Aris, while Freddy Adu will likely need more time to make his debut.
The Thessalonians face their toughest outing of the new year when they invite the current league leaders and Europa League contenders to the Kleanthis Vikelides stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Currently riding a four-game winning streak in league and cup play Hector Raul Cuper's men will try to reverse the tide in their 2-1 loss in the Greek capital last year.
Eddie Johnson can expect to see another chance to notch his first goal since joining the club on loan from Fulham, but will face a tough net minder in Alexandros Tzorvas, who has blanked his opponents four times this season.
Aris' other American import was presented to the media and fans this week, but the 20 year old Adu is not expected to figure prominently in Cuper's lineup.
Cuper will have to deal with the absence of last week's talisman Mehdi Nafti serving a yellow card suspension. The Tunisian international hammered home the decisive winner in last Sunday's win at PAS Giannina, but got carried away during the celebrations.
In addition Aris are awaiting the return of midfielder Dario Fernandez and Irish forward Ian Daly, who returned to training this week.
The Athenians can expect a potent attack from former Marseille and Liverpool striker Djibril Cissé. The Frenchman has already netted a league-high 15 goals in 17 appearances since arriving last summer.
The offense is also bolstered by Greek international Kostas Katsouranis, author of eight goals this season. Captain Giorgios Karagounis and Dimitris Salpingidis have also stepped in to fill the void, as was the case last week in a 2-0 cruise over straggling Panthrakikos.