Besiktas Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed me some Capital One Cup football last night. It was embarrassing enough that Manchester United was playing in the second round of the competition (big teams usually feature from the third round) but the shitty performance was rewarded with their arses in their faces. A good night became even better when Arsenal loanee, Benik Afobe, scored a brace in the historic win for Milton Keynes Dons.
As expected, the trolling on Twitter took center stage and it was fun. However, playtime is over and the Gunners have a very crucial fixture tonight. The first leg in Turkey had a nervy feel from an Arsenal perspective with Besiktas missing some clear-cut opportunities but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost stole it for the Gunners. Arsenal have made it to the group stage of the Champions League for 16 consecutive years and want to make it a 17th with a win at home on Wednesday.
The Gunners had previously been on a 13-match winning streak in Champions League playoff qualifying matches, whether home or away, but the streak was ended when they failed to defeat Besiktas last week. Besiktas manager, Slaven Bilic, has been on the news as well, but he wasn’t talking about selfies this time,
“We’re not going to London to go shopping in Harrods, but to try to fulfil some would say our dream. I’d say our task, our plan. Nobody respects Arsenal more than I do, but I wouldn’t have taken this result before the game. We are big time alive, though. I’m really optimistic.
We’re going to their soil, their stadium, in front of their spectators, but we didn’t concede. We played without our most important player Hutchinson, who is very likely to be fit for the second leg. They’ll be without Ramsey even if they have many great midfield players, but Ramsey is their top man.”
It’s worth noting that Arsenal has never conceded at home to a Turkish team and have never lost to one in 90 minutes and Besiktas has played 14 matches against English teams, losing seven, winning four and drawing three. Besiktas have previously won in England following victories at the expense of Chelsea and Manchester United in 2003 and 2009 respectively. Last season, Arsenal qualified for the group stages after a two-legged victory over Fenerbahce.
Arsene Wenger hopes that the Gunners’ experience would give them an edge in the game and he has stressed the importance of playing in the Champions League,
“For us the Champions League is very important. We want to play at the top level, at international level. Nothing is unthinkable – it (not qualifying for the group stage) has happened to 99% of all the big clubs in Europe.
“But we want to be in there and we think we have the potential to do it. The task is clear and we know we can do it. So let’s do it.”
Arsenal hasn’t recorded a victory since the opening day victory over Crystal Palace but they can take some confidence from their most recent result against Everton. When it seemed as if the chips were down, the Gunners put up a spirited second half performance and goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud ensured that both teams shared the spoils of an intense battle.
To injury news, the Gunners have a host of players still out injured with Serge Gnabry, Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta, Kieran Gibbs, David Ospina out injured. Yaya Sanogo remains doubtful while Aaron Ramsey is suspended. However, it’s really unfortunate to know that Olivier Giroud is joining the Arsenal Treatment Table and despite the fact that Wenger didn’t give out much in his press conference, the papers are already publishing that he’d be out for three months.
To team news, David Ospina’s continuous injury absence would pave the way for Wojciech Szczesny to continue doing his thing between the sticks. In defense, I expect Laurent Koscielny, if fully fit, to replace Calum Chambers which would allow him play alongside Per Mertesacker. Nacho Monreal and Matt Debuchy will continue in the full back positions.
In midfield, Mathieu Flamini will be tasked with protecting the back four while Jack Wilshere would play in the box-to-box role with Mesut Ozil playing as the creative hub. This means that the Gunners would start the game with Alexis Sanchez leading the line with Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flanks.
Possible starting lineups
Gooner Daily Prediction: 2-0
Enjoy the game wherever you are.
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