Champions League: Arsenal vs Besiktas match preview
A look ahead to tonight’s Champions League play-off second-leg at the Emirates
Wednesday 27 August 2014
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
Prior to last week’s first leg, the sides had never met before.
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
Arsenal to win: 1.42
Besiktas to win: 9.4
Live on Sky Sports 5 at 7.45pm. Highlights on Sky Sports 5 at 10pm.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal team news: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fails late fitness test as Harry Redknapp makes five changes for QPR
Manchester United vs Newcastle match report: Brilliant Wayne Rooney scores twice to fire up United's unlikely title challenge
Arsenal vs QPR player ratings: Could anyone outshine new Gunners hero Alexis Sanchez and who was worse than villain Olivier Giroud?
Manchester United 3 Newcastle 1: 'I'm playing like Paul Scholes,' says Wayne Rooney
Sports Quiz of the Year 2014: The Questions
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 5 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'