Besiktas vs Arsenal: Seven reasons why Champions League progress is far from certain for Arsenal

We take a look at why the Gunners could be on the end of an upset against their Turkish opponents

Arsenal play Besiktas tonight looking to put one foot into the Champions League proper.

The Gunners may feel a sense of confidence that they will progress through their play-off. After all, they've won all 12 matches of this sort that they've been involved in.

However, ahead of the first-leg of their play-off against the Turkish side, Arsene Wenger is among those warning the north London club getting ahead of themselves.

Read more: Did Wenger make a mistake not signing Fabregas?
Arsenal interested in Rabiot
Ramsey reminds Arteta of Fabregas

"It's a very difficult task and we know we have two difficult games," said Wenger. "Before speaking about anything else we know we have to put in two big performances against Besiktas."

Ahead of tonight's match, we take a look at a few reasons why delight in Turkey for Arsenal might not be a foregone conclusion.

1. Fatigue

Arsenal had to fight all the way against managerless Crystal Palace at the weekend, needing an injury time goal from Aaron Ramsey to ensure all three points were collected in their first game of the season. An easier ride would have been preferable for Wenger's side, and with Everton sandwiched between the two-legs against Besiktas, fatigue could be a problem. “We had a short preparation, and we know that in one week we have three big games," Wenger said.

Aaron Ramsey knocks in the winning goal to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace Aaron Ramsey knocks in the winning goal to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace  

2. Slaven Bilic

If you didn't know where the heavy-metal loving, chain smoking Slaven Bilic is currently working - now you do. The hippest manager in football will be plotting Arsenal's downfall and while some of his stock may have disappeared since his time in charge of Croatia, there's no denying he knows how to cause an upset. During his time as national coach, Bilic masterminded two victories over England and was almost single-handedly responsible for making Steve McClaren look a wally.

3. Besiktas bonus

The opportunity for Besiktas' players to appear in the Champions League - the holy grail for most footballers - would probably be deemed enough motivation prior to the two-legged tie against Arsenal. Despite that, a huge financial incentive has been dangled in front of them, with the players reportedly set to pocket £850,000 worth of bonuses if they overcome the Gunners.

 

Read more: Wenger wary of Besiktas threat
How Bilic won over the fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal match preview

4. Injuries

Arsenal are without two first choice defenders in the shape of Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs. In addition to that, World Cup winners Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski remain unavailable and Yaya Sanogo didn't travel to Turkey.

Per Mertesacker pictured during the recent World Cup in Brazil Per Mertesacker pictured during the recent World Cup in Brazil  

5. Referee

Milorad Mazic has been selected to referee tonight's match. The Serbian may be a concern for Arsenal after he was criticised for his decision making during the World Cup. Portugal manager Paulo Bento said that Mazic "showed bias" during his team's 4-0 defeat to eventual champions Germany. Iran manager Carlos Querioz accused Mazic of not being at the right "level" after his side's loss to Argentina and wondered aloud: "How can this guy sleep tonight, or for the rest of his life?"

Demba Ba at his Besiktas unveiling Demba Ba at his Besiktas unveiling  

6. Demba Ba

Besiktas striker Demba Ba wasn't too happy about being pushed out at Chelsea so will be relishing the opportunity against English opposition to prove Jose Mourinho made a mistake in letting him leave. The Senegal international also came close to moving to Arsenal on numerous occasions and will be able to show what the Gunners missed out on with a good performance. He's not shy of scoring against the Gunners either, netting twice against them in Newcastle's 7-3 defeat in December 2012.

Arsene Wenger prior to Arsenal's game against Besiktas Arsene Wenger prior to Arsenal's game against Besiktas  

7. Confusion

Arsenal's preparations have perhaps not been as smooth as they would have liked. There was confusion over whether the Gunners were flying into Ataturk or Sabiha Gokcen airports, and then uncertainty on where their pre-match press conference would be held. Added to that, tonight's game will be played at Besiktas’s temporary home of the Olympic stadium, most famous for Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final win. 45,000 Besiktas fans are expected to make it a hostile environment, aided by the unveiling of Turkey’s largest ever hand-made banner, reading “La Vittoria Sara Nostra” (victory will be ours) with anarchist “a” symbols. Wenger said: "Every challenge is different and beating a Turkish team away from home is very difficult but we want to perform at our best. Besiktas is on the back of a good result against Feyenoord, We’re on our toes and want to produce a good result."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'