Besiktas vs Arsenal: Champions League match preview
A look ahead to this week’s Champions League qualifier at Ataturk Olympic Stadium
Tuesday 19 August 2014
Arsenal begin their Champions League campaign with a trip to Turkey to face Besiktas in the first leg of their qualifying round tie on Tuesday, with the Gunners aiming to feature in the Champions League group stage for a 17 successive time.
Fresh off the back of an opening day 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace, Arsene Wenger’s men will be hoping to build upon a solid start to the season in Istanbul.
It took a late Aaron Ramsey goal to seal that match and Arsenal will be hoping for more of the same from the Welshman, who is becoming quite the talisman for his team. Arsenal fans will also be hoping to see more from new marquee signing Alexis Sanchez; the former Barcelona man starred for Chile at the World Cup and will be looking to kick-start his Arsenal career with a strong performance.
However, there are defensive worries for Wenger with Kieran Gibbs ruled out with a hamstring injury and Per Mertesacker still not match-fit after an extended break following the World Cup. Laurent Koscielny is also a doubt, although the Frenchman has trained ahead of the tie. New signing Calum Chambers is therefore likely to continue at the heart of the defence. Arsene Wenger has warned his players to expect a physical test against Besiktas
Besiktas, who finished runners-up in last season's Turkish championship, come into the game after defeating Feyenoord 5-2 on aggregate in the third round of qualifying, in which former Chelsea striker Demba Ba scored a hat-trick. Both sides know how important a victory is to take into the return leg to be played on 27 August.
KICK-OFF: Tuesday, 7.45pm
The match will be the first time these sides have met.
Arsenal are yet to lose over 90 minutes in the 7 games they have played against Turkish opposition, conceding just twice.
Besiktas have not featured in the Champions League group stage since the 2009/10 campaign; Arsenal on the other hand have featured in the last 16 Champions league group stages.
Arsenal have won all 12 of their previous Champions league play-off matches.
Arsenal have scored eight goals over the course of their last two games in Istanbul.
Besiktas to win: 5.7
Arsenal to win: 1.72
TV: Live on ITV at 7.45pm. Highlights on ITV at 10.40pm and Sky Sports 1HD at 10.00pm.
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