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
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
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.

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003