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PREVIEW: Besiktas v Arsenal, Team News, Starting XI + Prediction
Arsenal take on Besiktas tonight in the first leg of our Champions League play off.
The match wil be held at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium as Besiktas’ Vodafone Arena is under redevelopment but we should still expect a hostile atmosphere from the Turkish side.
We faced an equally tricky test this time last year when we played Fenerbache but hopefully we can progress with similar ease this time around having won the tie 5-0 on aggregate last season.
Saturday was a nail-biting start to the Premier League season as not only did we have to come from a goal down but it also needed a last gasp winner from Aaron Ramsey to secure the three points against Palace.
A better performance is going to be required this evening if we want to take a positive result back to the Emirates for next weeks second leg.
Besiktas are a dangerous side, as they proved by beating Feyenoord 5-2 on aggregate to reach this stage, and the big threat is going to come from former Chelsea striker Demba Ba, but if we can keep him quiet then hopefully we can nick an away goal or two.
Thankfully Laurent Koscielny is fit to play after aggravating an Achilles injury on Saturday. The Frenchman came through training on Monday which meant Arsene Wenger could leave Per Mertesacker back in North London to work on his fitness.
Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski are also still unavailable and they are joined by Yaya Sanogo in missing the game, with the young French striker out with a hamstring injury.
Kieran Gibbs has also been ruled out for up to three weeks after tweaking his hamstring at the weekend, so Nacho Monreal will start at left-back.
Theo Walcott is still missing as he continues to work his way back to full fitness following a serious knee injury.
This is the starting line-up I would like to see Arsene go with tonight. The Ox made a big difference when he came on at the weekend and with him and Sanchez in attack, we would cause the hosts all sorts of problems with our pace.
However, I have a feeling that the boss will opt for Olivier Giroud up front and he may even decide to bring in Mathieu Flamini for Jack Wilshere in midfield.
Whatever side we put out, we should still be confident of getting a positive result. Besiktas are dangerous but we are a far superior side, even with several players missing.
My big worry is fatigue from Saturday but the players should be well up for this game as Champions League football is at stake, so I’m going to back Arsenal to come away with an excellent result.
Besiktas 0-2 Arsenal COYG!!!