Champions League: Arsenal vs Besiktas match preview

A look ahead to tonight’s Champions League play-off second-leg at the Emirates

A Champions League group stages without Arsenal seems unprecedented. Indeed, it is 17 years since it last occurred. Yet after last week’s goalless first leg in Istanbul, the Gunners’ customary place in club football’s premier competition has taken on an air of precariousness.

They have had plenty of close-calls in reaching the all-important fourth place in the Premier League but have had few nervy moments when it has come to the qualifying rounds. They have progressed each of the six times they have found themselves at this stage, winning all 12 matches along the way. Last week’s draw was the first blemish on that spotless record and after a shaky start to the season, Arsene Wenger and his men will no doubt be feeling the pressure ahead of this crucial second leg. Recent high-profile recruits Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez didn’t come to North London to miss out on Champions League football so there is no getting away from the fact that this is a must-win game.

Read more: Seven reasons why Arsenal could lose
Podolski not leaving - Wenger
Giroud injury 'sad' for Arsenal

Wenger will have been pleased to keep a clean sheet away from home in front of a typically fervent Turkish crowd but there’ll be a pang of disappointment that they couldn’t nick an away goal that would have considerably eased the pressure for this second leg.

When faced with such pressure it is hardly ideal to be without your midfield maestro and your first choice centre forward. Aaron Ramsey is certainly ruled out having been sent off in the first leg, while Olivier Giroud may also miss out due to the ankle knock he picked up in the dying embers of Saturday’s visit to Everton. If so, it is likely that Alexis Sanchez will be employed through the middle as he was at Goodison Park.

It has already been a congested start to the season for Arsenal, yet Wenger simply cannot afford to play around with his squad. The Gunners will go into this at full strength and mindful of the gravity of the occasion.

 

KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm

 

PAST MEETINGS…

Prior to last week’s first leg, the sides had never met before.

 

STATS…

Last week’s draw was the first time Arsenal have failed to win a Champions League qualifying match.

Besiktas have not featured in the Champions League group stage since the 2009/10 campaign.

Arsenal are yet to lose over 90 minutes in the 7 games they have played against Turkish opposition, conceding just twice.

Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey, who has score in 5 of Arsenal’s last 6 competitive fixtures.

Demba Ba was Besiktas' chief threat throughout the game Demba Ba was Besiktas' chief threat throughout the game  

ODDS…

Arsenal to win: 1.42

Besiktas to win: 9.4

Draw: 5.2

 

TV:

Live on Sky Sports 5 at 7.45pm. Highlights on Sky Sports 5 at 10pm.

Suggested Topics
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect