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Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0: Alexis Fires the Gunners into the UCL

The marquee signing finally opens his Arsenal goalscoring account

Arsenal 1 (Sanchez 45′) – Besiktas 0

Emirates (Champions League)

Player Ratings (via the Mail) – Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

This was a game of utmost importance to the Gunners and the fact that no goal was scored in Turkey made things a bit uncomfortable at the start of the clash. In recent times, Arsenal had played six qualifying Champions League double-legged and have always excelled into the group stages but this game served as a real test of the team’s nerve and character.

In the space of one week since the last fixture between both sides in Turkey, the Gunners had lost Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud to injury while Aaron Ramsey sat the game out due to a suspension. Per Mertesacker also retained his place with Calum Chambers relegated to the bench. Arsenal almost drew first blood when Jack Wilshere showed great movement to evade two markers before teeing up the Ox. The winger accelerated with the ball before drilling a cross that was blocked.

Sanchez showed off his work rate to win the ball before threading a neat through ball for Wilshere but the maestro’s shot missed by a lick of paint. Besiktas’ goalie, Zengin, made a mess of his clearance that went straight to Santi Cazorla’s path but the diminutive midfielder’s first-timed shot was wide off the mark. Besiktas’ first meaningful attack arrived when an over the top ball was sent to Demba Ba in behind Arsenal’s center back pairing but Wojciech Szczesny showed good anticipation to race off his line and claim the ball.

Sanchez had a sniff at goal from a free kick but it was easy pickings for Zengin. Arsenal launched a counter attack when Cazorla spread a cross-field ball for Mesut Ozil but the German wasn’t in the same wavelength with Sanchez. Mustafa Pektemek was almost afforded a clear chance at goal but Matt Debuchy showed great awareness to make a superb block.

Wilshere had a great game

Wilshere strode forward with the ball before feeding a pass to Sanchez but the Chilean’s poor first touch allowed the ball to go beyond his control. However, Sanchez was to have the last laugh as he latched on to a loose ball to side foot the ball home from another attack instigated by Wilshere.

Alexis Sanchez

Debuchy sent Ox through on goal with a lobbed effort but the keeper raced out of his line to make himself big so the English winger had to make do with a corner kick. Wilshere sent another disguised pass to Sanchez but the goalie was on hand to make another superb save. Arsenal continued to ask questions of the Besiktas defense and the Gunners were almost two goals to the good when Debuchy nodded Cazorla’s dipping free kick to the side netting.

Mathieu Flamini carelessly offered Ba clear chance at goal with a poor clearance but the Senegalese forward didn’t take the initiative, much to the relief of the Emirates faithful. Arsenal kept knocking at the Besiktas’ defensive door and almost made the lead more comfortable when the Ox fired Monreal’s drilled cross straight at the goalie. For a player of his quality, I expected better from point blank range.

Things became a bit uneasy when Debuchy was sent off for his second bookable offence with put his team in a rather precarious situation.

Mathieu Debuchy's clumsy challenge on Mustafa Pektemek earns him a second yellow card and an early bath.

Mathieu Debuchy’s clumsy challenge on Mustafa Pektemek earns him a second yellow card and an early bath.

 

Ozil had to be sacrificed with Chambers filling the void created at the right full back position. Chambers did well to drift forward and drill a cross to Sanchez but the Chilean hotshot blasted his effort over the bar. The dying moments of the game were very nervy and an equalizer almost arrived when Ba failed to latch on to a cross that was missed by Per Mertesacker.

Wenger talked about Sanchez’ performance, transfer speculation and shared some information about Giroud’s injury. The French bloke had a successfully surgery and would be out for the remainder of the year but as it stands, Wenger confirmed that he doesn’t have anyone in his sights at the moment.

However, he would be concerned about the teams he’d face in the Champions League group stage as the draws take place today.

Thanks, Alexis Sanchez, the football SI Unit for Work Rate, for sending the Gunners into the group stages for the 17th season in a row.

Sayonara.

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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.

Crocked: Olivier Giroud went down against Everton and he will have a second scan on his injured ankle

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.

Recent form

Besiktas: LWWD

Arsenal: WLWWDD

Possible starting lineups

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

Gooner Daily Prediction: 2-0

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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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