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Galatasaray 1 Arsenal 4: Ramsey and Podolski Bring Some Turkish Delight

Arsenal's players react to the Welshman's brilliant volley to take the score to 3-0 in Istanbul Galatasaray 1 (Sneijder 88′) – Arsenal 4 (Podolski 3′, 90′, Ramsey 10′, 29′)

Match ReportMatch Highlights Wenger’s Press Conference (via Arsenal.com)

Rather unusually, Arsene Wenger named his squad almost 24 hours before the game so for the first time in a while, the fans knew what to expect on the pitch. The performance against Stoke still lingered in the minds of the fans so a great shift in Turkey would have gone a long way in restoring confidence to the team lads.

From the onset, the Gunners were firing on all cylinders and when I mean firing, I mean the early surface-to-goal missile that was blasted in by Lukas Podolski. For a player that had grumbled so much about his lack of playing time, that was the ideal to give his manager something to think about.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played through the middle and showed great footwork to evade a marker before teeing up Yaya Sanogo. But sadly, the lanky French lad lost his footing and hit the turf. The hosts had a chance to equalize when the ball ricocheted off Per Mertesacker to Hakan Banta but the Turk fired his effort wide.

Chamberlain was in the thick of things again as he instigated another attack and hurled the ball to Ramsey before he was clattered by a Galatasaray defender. The ref used the advantage rule as Ramsey was clean on goal and the Welsh Jesus side-footed a tame shot that crept into the net. Chamberlain’s awesomeness was on show again as he split the defense open with another ball to Podolski and as expected, Poldi went for power and smashed the hell out of the cross bar.

Joel Campbell had a rather frustrating match and had a couple of half chances that was dealt with effectively by the Galatasaray defense. Ramsey turned provider when he cushioned a ball to Podolski but the goalie did well to parry the German’s shot for a corner.

Then the unbelievable happened.

The corner was swung in and was headed to safety by some random bloke but as it fell into Ramsey’s path, the Welsh Jesus used his weaker left foot to arrow a piledriver into the top corner. The goal was so magnificent even some sections of home crowd were on their feet applauding what they just saw. That goal at least deserves a nomination in the next Puskas award.

At the start of the second half, Wenger wisely took out Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini for those youngsters in the forms of Gedion Zelalem and Maitland-Niles. As for expected, the introduction of these lads affected the team’s style of play and Galatasaray grew in some measure of confidence. However, they weren’t penetrating the Arsenal rearguard. There was still time to hand a debut to another youngster, Stefan O’Connor that came on for a visibly jaded Matt Debuchy. It was good seeing the Frenchman back in action after a while out.

Late on, Galatasaray got a consolation goal with a peach of a free kick for Wesley Sneijder but Arsenal got their three goal cushion when Podolski showed some strength to ward off a challenge before placing the ball past the goalie to make it four.

This win would boost the confidence of the lads ahead of the all-important clash against Newcastle. And it’s also worth noting that the resounding victory was achieved with many first team regulars rested. Lukas Podolski’s performance was worth talking about and one feels that he needs an extended run of games to at least prove himself but I have a hunch that he’d return to bench warming duties on Saturday. Ramsey is another player that would be elated by his performance and he has been sniffing for goals all season long. Now he has had three in his last two games.

Nonetheless, it was good seeing some Turkish delight from Podolski and Ramsey.

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Galatasaray Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Preview: Galatasaray v Arsenal

Following yet another poor result at the weekend, Arsenal came under the spotlight when the club’s fans were videotaped ‘booing the manager’ as the team boarded the train to leave Stoke-on-Trent. I’m pretty sure that Arsene Wenger was unperturbed as he must have developed an armadillo-esque skin over the years but it’s the players I was more ashamed of. This is a guy that believes so much in them and takes the fall on their behalf yet they are the ones that tend to make the same mistakes over and over again…then come to the media and blow their trumpets on how they’ve learned their lessons.

December has quite a heavy schedule and with the match against the in-form Newcastle looking important with each passing day, it was paramount for the manager to effectively rotate his team to avoid putting some players in the fabled ‘red zone‘. According to stats king, @OptaJoe, Alexis Sanchez has played 1771 minutes of football  in all competitions this season, much more than any other Premier League player. The Chilean hotshot has been the very fabric of the team this season and his fitness is key for everyone connected with Arsenal.

The last time both teams met at the Emirates, Arsenal fans were in awe of Danny Welbeck’s goalscoring exploits and since then the England international has had his good and bad moments for the team. However, it’s worth noting that Galatasaray are unbeaten in their last five games against English opposition at home with their last home result against an English team being the 1-1 draw with Chelsea. With the Turks rock bottom of the group and Arsenal already qualified, I believe the game would be a rather pedestrian affair but we can only hope that no Gunner suffers any injury layoff.

With the Gunners and Borussia Dortmund already into the Round of 16, it was expected that Arsene Wenger hands chances to the likes of Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell that haven’t gotten as much minutes as they’d have liked this season. The game against Galatasaray would offer the manager to see a different perspective from the lads that have been hot and cold this season.

Wojciech Szczesny seems to have recovered from his rib injury he suffered against Manchester United and I expect him to replace Emiliano Martinez in goal. Despite the fact that the young goalie struggled against Stoke, his performances against Dortmund, West Brom and Southampton were very impressive and he should take some confidence from those games. Arsenal’s defensive problems has been a much talked-about issue and it has been more about the quantity rather than the quality available to Arsene Wenger. With Laurent Koscielny’s troublesome Achilles being a thorn on the flesh for the Gunners, Wenger has confirmed that he will rest the Frenchman. With Nacho Monreal still out injured, I expect to see the shaky combination of Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers in the heart of the defense and it’s also heartwarming to know that Mathieu Debuchy is back in contention.

In midfield, the club’s niggling injury worries can’t allow Wenger to rotate enough so I expect to see Mathieu Flamini continue in the middle with Aaron Ramsey providing support in the box-to-box role. Santi Cazorla is another player that could do with some rest. With the manager opting for Podolski and Campbell on the flanks, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can get another round in the middle of the park, where he was so effective against AC Milan a couple of seasons ago. Yaya Sanogo is odds on to spearhead the attack.

Injury Updates

To injuries, the hosts would be without Hakan Balta and Blerim Dzemaili while Selcuk Inan is suspended. The Gunners have a lengthy injury list with the usual suspects, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal still out injured.

Team Form

Galatasaray

  • Last Five Games: L L W W W
  • Last Result: Galatasaray 2 Ankisar 1

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: L W W W L
  • Last Result: Stoke 3 Arsenal 2

Predicted Lineups

Galatasaray SK 4-4-2 football formationArsenal 4-1-4-1 football formation

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: A Danny Welbeck Turkish Delight

Welbeck turns to run away in celebration as the Galatasaray goalkeeper lies on the floor having conceded the first goal of the night at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal 4 (Welbeck 22′, 30′, 52′, Sanchez 41′) – Galatasaray 1 (Yilmaz pen 61′)

Emirates Stadium (Champions League)

Player RatingsMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Following the draw against Tottenham, the Gunners knew that they had a stern test against a Galatasaray side with half an eye on the Chelsea game on Sunday. With the Gunners facing some injury woes, Arsene Wenger had to use the resources at his disposal and the squad he lined up for the game was as strong as ever.

Galatasaray almost opened the scoring when Alex Telles skipped past Calum Chambers before firing his shot wide. Arsenal pegged the Turks when a diagonal Kieran Gibbs was met by Danny Welbeck and the quick English forward poked the ball through Fernando Muslera’s legs.

Danny Welbeck prods the ball past Galatasaraay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to open the scoring for Arsenal in the Champions League at the Emirates Stadium

Welbeck doubled his money when he showed great determination to get the ball on his stride before placing the ball past Muslera in goal. He almost scored his third in quick fashion when he hurriedly fired the ball straight at the goalie after picking up a cushioned pass from Mesut Ozil. The away side had a foray forward with Goran Pandev blasting a shot that was saved by Wojciech Szczesny.

The Galatasaray fans expressed their frustrations by throwing flares into the pitch and it was heartwarming seeing the club’s captain, Welsey Sneijder, going to the away section to calm the volatile fans down.

Following the delay from the flares, Arsenal picked up where they left off with Alexis Sanchez latching unto Ozil’s pass before placing the ball past Muslera to make it three. At the start of the second half, Sanchez instigated a counter attack and fed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that took on the Galatasaray defense before providing a cut back that was intercepted before it got to Ozil.

Welbeck got his moment of glory as he converted Oxlade-Chamberlain’s sumptuous pass before dinking the ball over Muslera for his first hat-trick in Arsenal colors.

Welbeck (left) seals his first ever Arsenal hat-trick with a neat dink past the goalkeeper as the forward put the Gunners 4-0 ahead at the Emirates Stadium

The Gunners were in party mode but the night was marred by a red card brandished to Szczesny after he hacked down Burak Yilmaz in the box. The Turkish forward waited for David Ospina to come into the pitch before placing the ball past him. Tomas Rosicky came in for the Ox and almost scored when Santi Cazorla’s lofted ball was headed over the bar by Welbeck. Had Rosicky notified Welbeck that he was in a better position to score, it would have been 5 – 1.

Arsenal’s red card opened things up for Galatasaray and Sneijder was one of the players that had a few stings at goal. Late on, Ospina made a wonderful save from Ospina. The Gunners almost made it five when Cazorla chipped the goalie but Semih was on hand to clear the ball from the line.

As expected, Wenger ran out of superlatives for Welbeck in his post-match conference,

“He was on the end of good movements tonight and we had good pace in our game. Our transition play and our finishing was good, and Danny was at the end of good collective movements. Of course it’s good to see that he’s slowly gaining confidence and finishing well. It’s nice to see the potential is there and he’s starting to get there – hopefully that hat-trick will help him gain confidence.”

Welbeck showed off his pace and strength and his finishing was top-notch. This haul of goals will give him some confidence ahead of the all-important clash against Chelsea.

Hats off to Welbeck, that served the Gunners with some Turkish delight.

Sayonara.

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