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Arsenal v Fenerbache Preview: Team News, Preferred XI & Prediction
It’s time to forget Saturday’s painful defeat to Villa and concentrate on a vital clash with Fenerbache tonight. It’s the first leg of our Champions League double header and the winner secure safe passage to the group stages – which is worth a cool £40m.
This is what we fought so hard for during the second half of last season. Our superb 10-game unbeaten run clinched fourth spot from Spurs, so let’s not blow it by crashing out in the play-offs.
Of course much of the pre-match talk has centered around Arsenal being in ‘crisis’. Sure, fans are frustrated at the lack of transfer activity and this summer has been a complete shambles on that front, but Saturday’s defeat was just one of those games where everything went against us.Forget it and move on.
Tonight is not going to be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. Fenerbache are a dangerous side and we know the atmosphere is going to be intimidating. It’s down to the players to show they can cope.
Our opponents tonight have a two-year European ban hanging over them and we wont find out the result of their CAS appeal hearing until AFTER the second leg. Which is truly mind-boggling. How the powers that be haven’t organised it so the decision would be made BEFORE the tie is a complete mystery.
It means we could in fact lose over the two legs but be reinstated should, as expected, Fenerbache’s ban be upheld and they get kicked out. There’s also several other possible scenrios but surprisingly UEFA have decided that they won’t make a final decision on what would happen if Fenerbache beat us, but are then banned, until after the appeal hearing.
Surely some clarity now would make sense and avoid any conspiracy theories? Anyway, let’s just win the tie and not have to worry about it all.
Let’s start with the bad news. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out for between 6-12 weeks, depending on who you believe. Arsene Wenger said at his press conference yesterday that the midfielder would only be out for 6 weeks after picking up a knee injury against Villa. However, the player later tweeted that he “hoped to be back in 3 months”. Either way, he’s not going to feature tonight.
The good news is that all the other injury concerns from Saturday have travelled to Turkey and should play. Kieran Gibbs was forced off with a nasty cut above his eye but he’s expected to start, as is Bacary Sagna who seems to have escaped serious injury after landing awkwardly on his neck in the dying minutes.
There were also slight doubts over Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott but all three are fit and available. Nacho Monreal has also made the trip after returning to training but will only be called upon if we’re desperate as he’s severely lacking match practice. Abou Diaby, Ryo Miyaichi and Thomas Vermaelen all remain on the sidelines.
Some fans have mistakenly claimed that Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla are banned having picked up 3 yellow cards during last seasons Champions League campaign. However, as per UEFA rules, they start with a clean slate this season so are available.
Lukas Podolski coming in for Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left is likely to be the only change. We have very few options on the bench, other than Cazorla, but I think he proved at the weekend that he’s not yet ready to start after missing much of pre-season.
It all depends on how the players react. I actually feel it’s better we’re away from home as the atmosphere at the Emirates, and by that I mean the anger vented towards Wenger, when things went against us on Saturday certainly didn’t help the team on the pitch. Fenerbache are dangerous and I think they’ll score, but we’ll get a vital away goal. Fenerbache 1-1 Arsenal.
What would be your starting eleven and what’s your predicted score for the game?