Arsenal vs. Fenerbahce Preview: No Room for Complacency
After the much talked-about defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal responded with a brilliant performance against Fenerbahce in their volatile Sukru Saracoglu stadium, leaving the home side humbled and stunned. The Turkish press had labelled Arsenal as a wounded lion but Arsene Wenger’s side preyed on them, putting one foot into the Group Stages of the Champions League.
That night, Aaron Ramsey was Arsenal’s standout performer as he was directly involved in two goals, providing a key pass in the build up to the match opener and scoring the second himself. After Theo Walcott was scythed down in the box, Olivier Giroud wasted no time in dispatching the spot kick.
Seven days have elapsed since the Gunners’ victory and they are set to welcome their Turkish opponents on the back of another good performance against Fulham. Lukas Podolski has found himself in the fringes in recent times but it was heartwarming seeing the German score a brace, as it must have done wonders to his shaky confidence. The Turks also went back to winning ways after a run of three straight defeats (Galatasaray, Konyaspor and Arsenal) with a solitary Dirk Kuyt goal that was enough to get all three points against Eskisehirspor in the SuperLiga.
I’m sure that you would fancy making a free football bet on the game, but with Arsenal on the ascendancy, complacency must be avoided. Last season, eventual winners of the Champions League, Bayern Munich, went back home with a stellar performance at the Emirates but they were stunned at home by a spirited Arsenal side that was one goal away from a quarterfinal berth. Complacency must be avoided at all costs.
Arsenal also cannot afford to deal with anymore injuries, as Laurent Koscielny suffered a face injury after he was kicked by Pierre Webo. Arsenal physio, Colin Lewin, labelled it as the worst cut he has ever seen. The usual suspects are still out injured but Thomas Vermaelen is getting closer to full fitness with each passing day.
Prior to the German invasion of Schalke 04 and FC Bayern last season, Arsenal’s Champions League record at the Emirates was impregnable, as the Gunners had not lost at home since the ill-fated semifinal clash against Manchester United in 2009. Following that loss, the Gunners had won 14 out of 19 games at home in Europe which included famous wins over Barcelona and AC Milan.
I’d expect their manager, Ersun Yanal, to field his strongest lineup possible with Volkan Demirel between the sticks while Gokhan Gonul, Kadlec, Joseph Yobo and Bruno Alves will be the defensive rearguard. The midfield would be relatively unchanged with Mehmet Topaz protecting the back four while Raul Meireles and skipper, Emre Belozoglu, will support the attack.
Dirk Kuyt and Moussa Sow wll attack through the flanks and I expect new signing, Emmanuel Emenike, to start ahead of Pierre Webo. The Nigerian forward stung Wojciech Szczesny’s palm with a thunderous shot and he would be odds on to continue marauding the forward line with the hopes of scoring a goal or two.
To Arsenal news, the manager, Arsene Wenger, has promised not to overhaul the squad with wholesale changes,
“It will be stability in the team. “Maybe one or two who are a bit injured [will be rested], but 95 per cent of the team who played at Fulham will play [on Tuesday] night. It will show consistency and, therefore, I’m already focused today to go into this game with full commitment. For me, top-level sport is just about consistency.
“It says it all [that I won't rest players]. It shows how important it is to us. It’s of course a very, very, very important tie for us.
“We want to be in the group stage the next day, and that demands attitude and commitment and desire to play the game with full power, like we love to do.”
This I must say, is great news.
Some Arsenal fans were hoping to see the likes of Yaya Sanogo and Gedion Zelalem, but they can come on with half an hour to go, when the business has been done, rather than starting the game. However, I’d expect Lukasz Fabianski to play his first game this season in place of Wojciech Szczesny, that could do with a breather before the heated North London Derby clash.
I also expect an unchanged defense from the victory against Fulham with Bacary Sagna and Per Mertesacker retaining their places in the heart of Arsenal’s defense. Wenger has confirmed that Koscielny is fit and ready for action but he also stated that he has not decided whether to start him or not. With the game done and dusted, I hope he rests the Frenchman because he’ll be key in Sunday’s clash.
Nacho Monreal is working his way to full fitness and I’d expect him to replace Kieran Gibbs that could also do with a breather. Jenkinson will retain his place on the right.
In midfield, the manager is set to welcome Jack Wilshere into the squad and he’s odds on to play alongside the red-hot Aaron Ramsey with Tomas Rosicky at the tip of the midfield. In attack, Lukas Podolski would retain his place and he would play alongside Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
I expect both starting lineups to look like this,
The Champions League comes up next tomorrow and the Gunners would be odds on to be among the first seeds. However, it’s time to put this game to bed once and for all.
Here’s to a great game of football.
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