Category Archives: Champions League

Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Lackluster Performance, Nervy Result

 

Besiktas 0 – Arsenal 0

Ataturk Olympic Stadium (Champions League)

Player Ratings (via Arseblog News) – Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Following Arsenal’s late win over Crystal Palace, there was little time to rest as the Gunners flew to Turkey for a crucial clash against Besiktas. Arsene Wenger made two changes from the team that was victorious against Palace with Nacho Monreal stepping in for the injured Kieran Gibbs while Olivier Giroud played in Yaya Sanogo’s stead.

Right from kickoff, Demba Ba noticed that Wojciech Szczesny was off his line and he attempted an audacious attempt that almost embarrassed the goalie but he was alert to the danger. The home side put the Gunners under some intense pressure but the defensive rearguard stood firm to withstand wave after wave of some Turkish delightful attacks. Matt Debuchy even suffered a nasty gash to his shin while trying to clear the ball away from danger.

The pressure finally took its toll and almost reaped fruit when Ba latched onto a neat Olcay Sahan pass and side-footed the ball goalwards but Szczesny was on hand to make a superb save.

Mathieu Debuchy Arsenal Demba Ba Besiktas

Ba terrorized the Arsenal defense

Alexis Sanchez waltzed with the ball on the right flank before drilling it to Giroud’s path but the Frenchman failed to connect with the ball. Sanchez continued to stamp his authority on the game with another threaded ball to Santi Cazorla but the Spaniard to the ball on his stride before firing his shot wide.

Jack Wilshere was offered a chance at goal and he wasted no time in curling a shot that was saved by Zengin. A lapse in concentration allowed Demba Ba a sniff at goal but his effort missed by a lick of paint. Sanchez ran the show for the Gunners and fashioned some chances for Giroud but the Frenchman was having a torrid outing which was epitomized by this…

Aaron Ramsey had done amazingly well to tee the ball to Giroud’s path but the Frenchman couldn’t even control the ball, much to the exasperation of Arsenal fans watching the game.

At the start of the second half, Ramsey had a chance to shoot the ball but he dallied on the ball which allowed the Besiktas defense to cover their tracks. Ex-Gunner, Oguzhan Ozyakup split the Arsenal defense with a pass that was like hot knife through butter and his ball fell kindly to Olcay Sahan’s path but the bearded bloke curled his effort just beyond Szczesny’s far post.

Arsenal’s bad night went a whole lot worse when Mikel Arteta suffered an injury that required him to be substituted.

He was replaced by Mathieu Flamini that earned himself an expected booking as the game progressed.

Arsenal sparked into life when Sanchez and Debuchy connected well on the right but the French defender’s cut back to Giroud was blocked after the forward pulled the trigger. Sanchez then tried hard to make a surging run before feeding Giroud and as expected, he lost the ball, much to the frustration of his teammates and fans alike. With Sanchez having nothing left in the reserves, he was replaced by the Ox.

Late on, Monreal did well to create a free kick on the edge of the area after he was fouled by some bloke but Cazorla’s free kick was straight at the goalie. With 10 minutes to go or so, Ramsey earned himself an early bath for a stupidly hauling down Ozyakup and that put the Gunners in a rather precarious situation.

really foolish from Ramsey

Funnily enough, the Gunners had the chance to grab a vital away goal when a defensive error allowed the Ox to have a run at goal before he blasted a shot that was parried to the post by Zengin. Wilshere attempted to head the rebound but the Besiktas defense did enough to clear the ball to safety.

In the end, a draw was fair reflection of two team with shitty attacks and good defenders. Demba Ba might have performed better than Giroud on the night but his attempts on didn’t hit the back of the net, which was a good thing for the Gunners. However, Giroud’s case could only be settled in Mount Olympus.

All focus would be on the Everton game coming up this weekend. More on the game as we draw closer.

It was a lackluster

Besiktas Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Demba Ba would be a threat tonight

Unfortunately, there was no one to hold the fort on the blog while I was out for a week on official duty. Apologies for that… Every “Arseblogger” needs a “Tom” now and then tho… I’m sure you get my drift.

****

In my absence, the Gunners fought really hard to grind out a result against Crystal Palace but the stakes are a lot different in the Champions League qualifiers. Arsenal has followed this route a couple of times to get into the competition proper with their last encounter being a double-legged affair against Udinese Calcio. This time, the Gunners face a Besiktas SK side that has been in UEFA’s bad books after some match-fixing allegations.

The game will be played at Besiktas’s Ataturk Olympic stadium, the ground were Liverpool had that miraculous Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005. Under new manager, Slaven Bilic, the club has been revamped and the injection of an experienced striker like Demba Ba has bolstered their fortunes. Moroccan sensation, Younes Belhanda is also on his way from Montpellier but this game will be too soon for him.

Besiktas celebrating a goal against Feyernoord

Goals from Kerim Frei and Mustafa Pektemek handed Besiktas a 2-1 lead over Feyernoord in the first leg but a Demba Ba hat-trick in the second leg set the stage for a feisty encounter with the Gunners. Besiktas wouldn’t play any league football till the end of August, but they have two games against the Gunners before their Turkish SuperLig football action kicks off.

The Turks are unbeaten in their last 15 home games in all competitions, and they have won nine of those home encounters. Food for thought for the Gunners.

Besiktas fans will unfurl Turkey’s largest ever handmade banner

Turkish fans

Arsenal will arrive in Turkey in bullish mode, following their two victories over Manchester City and Crystal Palace. While the Man City game was very convincing, the same couldn’t be said about the Crystal Palace encounter even though the fans cared more about the points than the collective performance of the team.

Arsene Wenger can be proud of his achievements in the transfer window this summer but with Thomas Vermaelen off to Barcelona, Per Mertesacker not close to full fitness and Laurent Koscielny carrying a knock, the Gunners are desperately short at center half. The tabloids have been whispering about some Spartan bloke called Kostas Manolas, but as it stands, the Gunners have two young and inexperienced lads in the forms of Calum Chambers and Ignasi Miquel, as well as a make-shift center back, Nacho Monreal. Monreal will probably play in his featured left full back role with Kieran Gibbs suffering from yet another injury.

Arsene Wenger has even expressed his concerns ahead of the game,

“We are desperate to do it because we want to play in the Champions League and we know how big these games are, we had to give a lot [against Crystal Palace], hopefully we will recover and be ready for Tuesday night.

“We are desperate to go through, no matter what it costs we want to go through. We have always a difficult draw, we had Fenerbahce last year, this time we have Besiktas. It’s difficult.

“We will assess Koscielny on Monday; if he’s fit and capable to play, we play him. It was our plan to bring the Germans back in contention for Everton. But in case of emergency I will take Mertesacker.

“But we have Bellerin, who was 19 today, who can come in. we are a bit short. I hope Koscielny responds well to today’s game.”

Despite the Gunners’ defensive troubles, they are well stocked in other positions and I expect a very strong team from the boss. With David Ospina still nursing a thigh injury, I expect Wojciech Szczesny to continue in goal. The Pole had a scary moment with a poor clearance against Crystal Palace but he had Koscielny to spare his blushes. Matt Debuchy and Nacho Monreal will be at the fullback positions and I expect Chambers to start along Kos, if he passes a late fitness test.

Koscielny will pass the test and play today because he’s a beast. Just look at this…

In midfield, captain Mikel Arteta will play alongside a resurgent Jack Wilshere with Aaron Ramsey playing further ahead. The Welsh Jesus recently spoke about competitions for places in the squad and he hopes that everyone would be fit as the campaign progresses. Shad Forsyth, anyone? Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez will support Olivier Giroud in attack, as the manager has confirmed that Yaya Sanogo has a “little” hamstring problem.

This would be the first meeting between both sides in European football and it promises to be an interesting encounter.

Recent form

Besiktas: LWW

Arsenal: WLWLWW

Possible starting lineups

Besiktas JK 3-4-3 football formationArsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Gooner Daily Prediction: 1 – 3

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Opponents in the UCL Qualifiers

The Gunners will have to be mindful of Hugo Almeida, Besiktas top scorer last season

As the season hots up, the chums at UEFA decided to be in the spotlight with their draws for the Champions League qualifiers that would take place this month. There were some interesting fixtures on display with SSC Napoli getting a tasty draw with Athletic Bilbao while LOSC Lille Metropole takes on FC Porto. However, Arsenal would brace themselves for a double-legged affair with Turkish outfit, Besiktas SK.

The team had qualified for the Europa League group stages last season after an aggregate victory over Norwegian side, Tromso, but they as well as fellow Turkish side, Fenerbahce, were banned by UEFA following some allegations of match-fixing. A season without European football made the team concentrate on the Turkish SuperLig and after finishing the campaign in second place to Fenerbahce, the Turks under the guidance of Slaven Bilic are set to take on the Gunners for the right to be in Champions League group stages.

The team doesn’t have as much “household names” like Galatasaray but folks like Atiba Hutchinson, Michael Eneramo and Manuel Fernandes have gained their fair share of popularity in the world of football. The Gunners would have to keep half an eye on Hugo Almeida, Besiktas’ top scorer last season. Almeida has been at Besiktas since 2011 and he has scored 47 goals in 108 games for the Turks. In his time with the club, he has won the Turkish Cup in his first season.

He’s also a regular in the Portuguese national team and like his compatriots, he suffered the ignominy of a disastrous World Cup so he returned earlier than expected.

Almeida celebrating a goal with his teammates

Despite Besiktas’ stature, I don’t think that they have enough in the tank to win Arsenal but football is one hell of a surprising sport. The dates for the fixtures have also been set for August 19th and 27th, and we would be hoping that the Gunners play in Europe’s elite competition for the umpteenth time after easing past the Turks.

Sayonara.

Arsenal’s Transfer Targets Raise the Eye at the World Cup

The best thing about a competition like the World Cup is that the football doesn’t stop till the final day on July 13, 2014. As expected, shocks and surprised have been the order of the day and I’m pretty sure that many fans wouldn’t quickly forget how Netherlands decimated Spain.

Yesterday’s set of fixtures had their own twist as the day began with Colombia securing a comfortable result against the modern day Spartans. Shortly after West Ham’s Pablo Armero got the lead, the South American side played so poorly and one wondered if the Greeks had it in them to pull off something tangible for themselves. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Leonidas or Thermistocles in their ranks so there wasn’t going to be any epic fighting.

With the Colombia game done and dusted, all eyes were turned to the Uruguay vs. Costa Rica game, a match that everyone deemed to be a stroll in the park. Edinson Cavani’s goal made it seem as if it was going to be business as usual but that fine young lad, Joel Campbell, popped one with one of the finest strikes in the tournament to bring his country level. The Costa Ricans continued to push Uruguay hard and against all odds, they scored two more goals that put the game beyond doubt with Campbell again having a hand in the match clincher.

Costa Rica’s shock victory threw down the gauntlet to England and Italy and I had hoped that it wouldn’t be a repeat of the bore fest I witnessed in euro 2012. Unlike that game were being conservative was the order of the day, both teams showcased some attacking football and that Chuck Norris looking graceful regista in the middle of the park was as influential as ever, spraying passes like they were bread and butter. Juventus’ Claudio Marchisio and Liverpool’s Danny Sturridge got the strikes for their nations but in the end, it was the bad boy, Mario Balotelli, that scored the goal that handed the Italians maximum points.

Then there was the early morning unorthodox fixture between Ivory Coast and Japan and for some strange reason, I saw myself watching the game as if it was a 2.00pm game, rather than the 2.00am fixture it was meant to be. To my surprise, the red-hot Wilfried Bony got the nod ahead of The legendary Didier Drogba and he even got on the score sheet courtesy of an assist from Serge Aurier, a player that has been touted as Sagna’s long-term replacement. Aurier was at it again with another assist for a former Gunner, Gervinho, and it was enough to hand Africa’s first victory in the tournament.

So there we have it. A certain Joel Campbell, whose future still hangs on the balance, the want-away Mario Balotelli and of course, everyone’s favourite Serge Aurier that has been heavily linked with a move to North London.

Many would be hoping for the manager to buy that center forward that would score more goals that the amount of gel Cristiano Ronaldo uses on his hair, but I won’t mind having me some Campbell and could play his part in the 2014/15 campaign. That lad is a truly talented kid and I hope he continues to improve but I’d love to see him at Arsenal sooner, rather than later.

As for Serge Aurier, I would be extremely livid if another team comes and snaps him away from Arsenal’s clutches despite the fact that hour has openly flirted with the Gunners this summer. Last season, he scored six goals and supplied six assists for his team and his versatility allowed him to play as a right back and even as a center back, depending on his managers tactical setup. Aurier would be a perfect fit for Arsenal and I pray that Arsene Wenger and his team secure a move for the lad once Ivory Coast gets knocked out of the competition.

Then there is the curious case of Mario Balotelli. At Internazionale, Manchester City and AC Milan, the maverick scored lots of goals but he’s more remembered for his antics and shenanigans rather than his talented displays. Arsenal has had its fare share of hot heads in the past but Balotelli has a lot of baggage with him and I hope that the Gunners links for him isn’t concrete.

So it’s back to watching the greatest competition in the world and I’m gonna support my next best national team after my Nigeria.

#AllezLesBleus

Sayonara.

UEFA Champions League: Bold Predictions for the UCL Semis

 

Just before the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draws were made, I published an article on some bold predictions for the last eight and there’s nothing cooler than seeing your predictions work out. I had stated that;

  • Two Teams from the Same Nationality Would Lock Horns – Yup, there was a clash between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona, two teams from the same nation. 
  • The Ibrahimovic – C. Ronaldo – Diego Costa Golazo Fest Would Continue – Cristiano Ronaldo got in on the scoring act but injuries plighted Zlatan and Diego Costa’s chances of getting on the score sheet.
  • Atletico Madrid Would Cruise to the Semifinals – The Red and White Dark Horses surprised everyone in the football world with a two-legged victory over juggernauts, Barcelona, but I wasn’t perturbed cuz’ I said so. 
  • A ‘Big’ Team Would be Dumped Out - If FC Barcelona is your definition of “big”, then you’re correct. :D
  • End of the Line for Manchester United – Of course, they never stood a chance with the defending champions.

The draws for the semifinals coming up soon and the road to Lisbon is getting closer with each passing game. Gooner Daily has decided to take a tentacle from Paul the Octopus to make a couple of predictions ahead of the next phase of Europe’s elite football competition.

Atletico’s Profligacy Will Cost Them a Place in the Finals

David Villa smashed three shots against the woodwork when he played his former employers

In the absence of a clinical forward like Diego Costa through injury, Atletico Madrid needed their next experienced forward, David Villa, to step up in his absence. David Villa had a good game by his standards but he left his shooting boots at home as he missed a hat-trick of chances that smashed the woodwork.

As the game progressed, Atletico found more loopholes in the Barcelona defense but their poor finishing coupled with Barca’s toothlessness in front of goal saw them book a place in the last four. Against vastly experienced sides like Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Atletico’s naivety in front of goal could be exposed and they would be brushed aside.

Notwithstanding, they have been the team of the tournament thus far.

Jose Mourinho and his Goons Would Progress to the Finals

As we all know, Jose Mourinho is one hell of a charismatic character and while he can be a massive pain in the ass sometimes, you can’t take nothing away from his tactical acumen.

He had noticed how Eden Hazard had been struggling on the wings right from the kickoff but he took a bold step to replace him in a game of that magnitude with Andre Schurrle. David Moyes on the other hand, saw that Wayne Rooney was clearly struggling at the Allianz Arena but Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj came on for other players while Shrek remained on the pitch.

 

Super Sub

 

I’m not here to laud Mourinho for his tactics because PSG also had chances to kill the game off and they weren’t taken but Mourinho is a coach that knows how to adapt to different game plans and when his team gets drawn against either Bayern, Real Madrid or Atletico, Mourinho would have the edge.

As expected, he would probably park a large bus away then balance the scoreline at home. Bleeeeeeh

There Would be Penalty Shootouts in One of the Fixtures

At the semifinal stage, there would be some tactical battles on and off the pitch. Teams would take cautious approaches over the course of two legs and I’m confident that there would be a fixture that would be settled by the lottery of a penalty shootout.

Let’s just hope that Sergio Ramos won’t be available to shoot another ball that would be launched into orbit if Real Madrid turns out to be among the teams playing in the shootout.

Do you agree with these predictions? Feel free to share yours with your comments.

Sayonara

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