Arsenal Look For Turkish Delight


Twelve months on, Arsenal return to Turkey for the first leg of the Champions League qualifier. Frequently we are told that winning the title is aided by experience of having done so before. If that’s the case, the same surely applies to this stage of the competition and Arsenal are old hands at this type of fixture, undefeated in the previous six ties with not even a leg drawn.

Repeating that form will be vital to progressing and there is no reason why Arsenal should not feel confident of doing so. The squad was boosted with Laurent Koscielny travelling and Wenger must be confident that he can last the full ninety minutes as Per Mertesacker was not aboard the diverted flight. Mathieu Flamini recovered from a bout of sickness and made the journey but Kieran Gibbs is out for three weeks whilst Yaya Sanogo has a hamstring twang which has denied him the opportunity of stretching his scoreless run to sixteen games.

Monreal and Olivier Giroud are the only changes that I would expect Arsène to be contemplating this evening, leaving the line-up as:

Szczesny; Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta; Ramsey, Wilshere; Sanchez, Cazorla; Giroud

It’s good enough to win this evening and there’s no reason to believe that the performance won’t be an improvement on the weekend as the players begin to hit their stride for the coming season. The belief for that is a number of individuals were poor, the team collectively disjointed and they can only get better. The majority of the squad can draw on last season’s meetings with Fenerbahçe following the home defeat against Aston Villa; a tough match was expected but Arsenal ran out comfortable winners.

It’s something the manager is aware of,

“The group still needs to grow. But every game you win makes you stronger and helps gain confidence. We have won matches recently and we’re more positive at the moment but the reality of the competition is it’s about performance. The environment doesn’t count for anything. We were not completely happy with our performance last Saturday against Crystal Palace and we want to improve tomorrow.”

Whilst the result tonight is important, if Arsenal do succumb they need to be in touching distance. History is with them in terms of competitive games, the club has never lost a European tie in Turkey although Arsenal did lose 0 – 2 to Besiktas on 21st May 1966. The eyes of the world were not gazing particularly in the direction of that game although they were focussed on Highbury as Henry Cooper’s valiant effort to dethrone Cassius Clay ended in the sixth round. The two sides met again four days later and played out a goalless draw.

Confidence is crucial as we saw last season. Snatching a win to begin a long unbeaten run will form the basis of a good start to the season. With the expected top four winning, taking advantage of Manchester United’s early slip, building form on the back of that is vital. I’m happy for the media to salivate over City and Chelsea; let them, Arsenal flying below the radar is a good thing as it keeps the pressure away.

Arsène did not downplay talk that his transfer policy will be dictated by the result of this tie,

“The play-off is not] not affecting too much my transfer policy. Financially it is a big game but it’s not that that’s the most important [thing]. We want to compete at the top level, we want to fight against the best in Europe and that’s the real target of the competition tomorrow.

It’s more than the financial consequences. We have always in the history of the club adapted to our financial potential but what is very important is that we want to play with the best. That’s the real target of the qualifier.”

Having completed most of his business already, he can afford to be somewhat relaxed about the impact of not qualifying for the Champions League. With only possibly a centre back and midfielder to come in, it seems unlikely that decisions will be upset in that respect. Perhaps he has a rabbit to pull out of the hat in that sense but it seems unlikely and indeed, players will be more swayed by the potential of the squad in the domestic league and the pay packet as well. The Champions League isn’t irrelevant of course and no-one is claiming that but at this stage of the transfer window, it isn’t going to be the decisive factor for the players we are probably looking at. You can guess that I don’t expect a signing of the ilk of Özil to be made in the next fortnight.

As it is, I do expect a win tonight and more comfortable than some are predicting. Besiktas had a good win in the last round but there are valid footballing reasons why Feyenoord were in the Third Qualifying round. Let’s not get caught in the trap of overstating our opponents without recognising that Arsenal have played two, won two so far this season.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

378 thoughts on “Arsenal Look For Turkish Delight

  1. Anyway, the Germans should be back for the return and we’ll just have to find a way to win it.

  2. Come on Dukey

    When tactics and formation decisions like those contribute to the performance and the manager is not willing to make changes there is going to be plenty of stick. We actually made them look a lot better than they were in the first half when a more balanced formation would have seen us able to push them back down both wings. That’s not the players’ fault and Arsene cannot be expecting Santi to play down the wing because he knows it will never happen.

  3. Arsene should be making 2 detours on his way back to London. One to Portugal to pick up William Carvalho and the other to Germany to pick up Reus and drop off Campbell + cash since Arsene doesnt even use him, so atleast use him as a make weight to get Reus.

    I know its only the 2nd match but this is the EXACT samething we saw last year except you have Sanchez for Ox or Gnabry on the RW.

  4. C

    It’s for the benefit of the fans and players. A little moral boost.

    I almost guarantee we will see Arsene use the same starting XI alot this season, he will play his favourite players to death.

    Just sell Campbell if you’re not going to use him, if he’s only going to play him in cup games, we have youth players for that. And use the money to buy someone you DO trust.

  5. @Moe

    Completely agree!

    People have been crushing Yaya for not scoring but atleast he tries and gets into the positions to score, how about our 1st choice striker, yup I’m looking at you Giroud!

  6. We’ve been bad before but not as collectively bad as that.
    How on earth can Giroud be so unfit? He was conserving himself after the first ten minutes.
    I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again: Sometimes I think Arsène’s brain stops working.
    Good points – back four and goalkeeper. Arteta until he got injured. Sanchez.
    Against Everton, we’ll have Per back and Mesut.
    Jack’s progress has stopped. Santi has been awful in both games. They’ve infected Aaron tonight.
    I think I’ll go get a scotch to cheer myself up.

  7. An interesting point coming out about the defending from Kos. Twice in the game he went over to cover the right and allowed himself to be turned and showed the player inside when he should have kept him down the outside. This is why he didn’t work well in a CB pairing with TV5. He played as the right sided CB and wasn’t good at keeping players on the outside.

  8. C

    Which leads me to think, if Arsene wanted a striker so badly last season. Then maybe he does realise we need a better one, question is why hasn’t he gotten one?

    Probably market prices, 50mil for an out of form Cavani is a joke.

  9. I think he took Sanchez off to keep him fresh.

    Giroud had no help, but that was the plan to not go gung ho which we all wanted him to not do. Could have had a smash n grab.

  10. Isn’t it funny how people were really worried about Nacho, yet he along with the rest of the back 4 were good, yet everybody in our midfield and attack not named Sanchez were shit.

    Job well done to our back 4, Sczny and Sanchez for trying and fighting and putting in a performance that you should be able to hold your head up.

  11. Moe – PSG aren’t going to sell Cavani at any price now Zlatan is injured, especially not in the next two weeks, unless they can get Falcao instead.

  12. Not enough to say he had no help. He looked poor, he was off the pace and his touch was shocking. Not many others rushing to his defence after that performance.

  13. @Moe

    I agree 100% but there are others to be had, hell we could have gotten Manzudiac, Morata, Lukuka hell even Fucking Ba.

  14. Dukey

    Problem is, there was no reason to try and get a draw. We could have beaten them by having some width.

    I mean is Santi better defensively than Campbell or Ox?

    The Champions League is more important, because it is 1 out of 2 qualifiers. Whilst the Everton game is 1 game out of 38. So Sanchez should have been kept on.

  15. On the basis that he will be playing with a similar starting 11 whenever he can for the rest of the season, can we expect to see Alexis as the only attacking player doing anything then being hauled off during the second half to keep him fresh?

  16. C:

    You know I am not a fan of Giroud either and he had a miserable game today but for the most part he has always worked hard. He has shortcomings but he is clearly the best we have at that position and the only realistic option right now.

  17. @Dukey

    What’s wrong with playing the Ox on the LW because he will bust his ass tracking back and then helping on the counter. Not going gung ho with Ox wide LW, Sanchez RW.

  18. I predict Sanchez to form a close relationship with Giroud this season, I just hope Sanchez knows what type of bloke Giroud is…..

  19. Make no mistake, Giroud may bag 25+ goals but my frustration with him is the fact that this is a CL playoff, not the fucking CC and he Santi and the rest of the midfield had been shit.

  20. The ox will start in the second leg.

    I think wenger was being cautious… Rightly so if you ask me when we will do them over at our gaff anyway.

  21. I’m done now, sorry mates had to get the reactionary frustrated Gooner out of me because I generally do it in the summer based on our lack of signings.

  22. C

    It’s fine mate, everything you said is valid as far as i’m concerned.

    We’ll see now what team we bring out versus Everton.

  23. I think a call for calm is needed.

    Not a good performance (with Cazorla and Giroud looking particularly poor) but – as Duke alluded – it was a tough opposition tonight and hostile atmosphere. We did also know that several players were lacking match fitness.

    4 days to recoup for another tough game. 4 days can be as long a time in football as it is politics.

    Have we forgotten the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the opening game of last season already?

  24. Not withstanding the new signings nothing has changed for me from last season a manager who won’t or can’t change his ways.
    If this is a plan Dukey it’s gonna a fucking long season

  25. Talking of signings C, less than two weeks to go. But will anything happen?
    Still time to get Loic Remy.
    And Khedira.
    And Vargas.
    And Carvalho.
    And Uncle Tom Cobley.

  26. When Walcott is back and fit we better see a lienup with Sanchez, Theo, and Ox quite a bit. Those three have to offer more than anything Giroud and Cazorla give us up front. Giroud is a good option to have against certain opposition, but the more I see of him the more I am getting convinced that he is not the proper answer to the question of who will be the CF to lead us to glory.

  27. Jonny
    I take your point but imo if Arsene had the best squad on the planet he couldn’t use them properly

  28. We are definitely lacking the drive from midfield at the moment as well. I think Wilshere is the man Arsene is hoping will fill that role, but so far he has not been up to snuff. I gaurantee Rosicky would provide more drive in attack than Wilshere is at this point in time.

  29. Well it’s a long season.
    I really didn’t think that all our world cup players were going to start off on fire, so I am prepared to cut them some slack.
    Will be interested to see the line up against Everton.

  30. C:

    Campbell’s entire career experience as a striker is for a Costa Rica team that had no one else who could play the position. The rest of his career has been as a winger. Its seems very unlikely that he would be a reasonable option at CF right now.

  31. Moe: Well, that’s not 100% yet, but if true makes Remy available.
    And anyway, as you may notice from my last suggestion, my comment was very much tongue in cheek.

  32. One thing is for certain, Everton will not be afraid to have a go against us. I think we should definitely start Ox on the left, and Sanchez on the right. Giroud will get the start at CF by default. I think our midfield should be Flamini, Ramsey and Ozil (if ready). The back four pretty much picks itself at the moment…

  33. @Jonny

    I know calm is needed but this is the same performances we saw last season with a manager that doesn’t trust his subs to make a difference yet Ox almost grabbed the winner and Campbell has impressed not just on loans but in preseason. Could Mozart not have come on earlier and made a difference.

    I’m not as convinced as you that it was as tough as they made it seem especially when you Ox and Sanchez finding SOOOO much joy down the flanks yet he couldn’t play them together?

  34. vice

    When Walcott gets back, he will play on the right and Sanchez on the left. Giroud/Sanogo will still play upfront.

    I’m almost certain that CF spot is not going to change.

  35. Why not a front 3 of some combination of Ox, Podolski, Sanchez and Campbell against Everton?

    Its not like they are going to park the bus they are going to attack and why not have the pa e and finishing and go back at them.

  36. Dukey

    More about the lack of subs and performance than the result mate. And that result is nothing to be proud of, we made Besiktas look good.

  37. @Dukey

    Its not about the draw for me, its the lack of fight and the terrible peformance and no change from Arsene that is frustrating especially when you think we had Ox,Mozart and Campbell on the bench.

  38. It was a typical tough away performance….Sanchez looked good, starting to link up with new team mates….another night we would have had a few goals.

    Once Sanchez gets accustomed to his team mates we will be ripping arseholes.

  39. The frustration comes from the same formulaic approach that Wenger has followed for the past several seasons. He comes in to a match with a preconceived notion of what he wants the team to do and refuses to make changes when it is blindingly obvious that what we are doing is not working.

    Then, he proceeds to make his obligatory 70-75th minute sub by taking off the best attacking option we had on the evening. Bad performances can be expected, but this stubborn refusal to change things based on the way the match develops is infuriating from a supporter’s perspective.

    I think we all acknowledge it isn’t the end of the world, but fear that we may see this same cycel on repeat for the season ahead.

  40. Why don’t we wait and see who starts on Saturday? Could be that AW is finding his best balance to the team.

    I do concur that was appalling decision making from him today – it has never been a strong suit of his IMO but we have managed to win things in the past.

    When Duke is being the voice of positivity – you may find you’re in need of a chill-pill. 😉

  41. Also that pitch was a stinker – we almost never do well on bad pitches.

    Bit of a worry about Arteta – maybe it will prompt Wenger…

  42. Twitter-

    “Arteta doesn’t look good. Just walked through the mixed zone wearing a protective boot, limping badly. Wenger says he “turned his ankle”.

  43. In the first 5 minutes of the match one of the commentators said that their RB had never played in that position before tonight and was in fact a very left footed LB. If there were ever an opposition weakness to exploit that was it. So we play someone who is not a winger by trade and is in fact very unlikely to test the RB at all, as he will probably spend most of his time in the middle of the park.
    Maybe the manager feels that we should be playing in a certain way, but surely you take advantage of any weakness in your opposition. Perhaps he didn’t know about the RB, but if that’s so his research is appalling as a lowly commentator was able to have the information straight off the bat.

  44. Morning all.
    Monreal-very good
    Chambers-very good/nearly excellent
    Kos-very good
    Arteta-very good

    Jack-top of the shop
    Aaron-good/very good
    Alexis-very good(but ineffective)
    Giroud-had a shocker…must be more potent.
    Ox-woke everybody up
    Flamini-so so

  45. jonnygunner,

    A very good analysis of player performance in that game.

    The problem is it’s a bit like a hole in the bucket – it can be small but it makes the bucket useless, and needs to be fixed — and we had more than one hole in the Arsenal team bucket.

  46. It’s funny reading you guys the day after, with hangover dissipating and over a tasty little meatless breakfast 🙂
    Jonny, Dukey – kudos for making sense in this hostile atmosphere 😉
    I still don’t understand how people can suddenly go nuts and forget all about who Wenger is and how he works. We all know he’s very conservative in squad selection (but can make wholesale changes if really pressured), and we all know our Mediterranean ties were always tight affairs, even when our quality still showed through. I felt you could see we were better as a team, but out of shape.
    Interestingly, many people seem to forget Giroud managed the kinds of situations he wasted last night much MUCH better last season. Are you guys claiming he’s lost not only the form, but also the ability? Maybe we should try to look for signs of lobotomy on that square head…
    Some of Wenger’s decisions were very predictable. When forced into a change already after the 50th minute, it was clear he wouldn’t make the 3rd change until the very last, and Ramsey’s unjust red nailed that. Having played with a right winger / left false winger formation before, he was bound to stick with it for better or worse (presumably also because he doesn’t believe Campbell can manage such games already).
    I’m dissatisfied with Cazorla and Giroud, both of whom should have done much better. But I can also see they are both not in shape. Wenger plays them because he doesn’t have a choice – Rosicky starting is a tricky proposition and Sanogo was unavailable for the game. Would he have had a choice if he had bought new players? Good question, but the answer will forever remain unknown.
    On a positive note, Chambers, Szczesny, and Debuchy had a really good game. Sanchez worked tirelessly, but I feel he needs to move about more. At times, when Cazorla drifted to the right, it seemed the Spaniard expected Sanchez to cover for him on the left, but this never happened (perhaps Wenger’s at fault here). It also highlights how Cazorla isn’t up for it yet – leaving the left-hand side to the more defensively inclined Monreal, as if he thought he was playing with Gibbs.
    The pitch seemed ludicrous, the officiating was poor, our opponents were better prepared physically than us. In those circumstances, a goalless draw is acceptable. If anybody thinks this is a blinkered pro-Wenger fanboy perspective, so be it.

  47. Morning

    If you’d have offered me 0:0 before kick off, I probably would’ve taken it

    Agree the performance was not at the desired standard. If someone wants to throw a load of dosh at Santi, I’d be prepared to listen. On the proviso that a wide player was recruited. I’d swap Santi for an injured Reus this morning

    CF – hmmmm. He had a stinker and knows that. I don’t think we’ll see any transfer business in this department unless loan deals take players away. Or Poldi is sold?

    That raises the question of how long will AW wait to start using some of the flex our new options offer. Last nights performance from the touch line suggests not right away. I feel that frustration as most of you do. With that said, CL qualifier away to a tough(ish) opponent where a clean sheet will do probably isn’t the game to start “experimenting”?

    Throw in the somewhat make shift back four that are nowhere near familiar with each other and I’ll excuse AW reverting to typecast on this one. It is noted however

    I do feel that with the window closing after the start of the season it almost creates a mini season. Get through to 2nd September without any disasters, finalise the squad and then we can go forwards

    On last nights performance I felt that Debuchy was occasionally out of position and stretched Kozzer a couple of times to cover too much space for him raiding forwards. I believe Ba exploited that once if not twice and turned Kozzer to shoot. Thankfully off target. I know people will say that LK was playing RCB. And that probably contributed but also the RB position. I think Per will be back ASAP and Marshall Debuchy well.

    Perhaps I am seeing things that suit my own agenda, but I thought last night again showed the short comings in Arteta. He didn’t impose the game for me and it cried out for the athletic destroyer I’ve been on about for years now. I felt happier when Flamini came on. Appreciate it was backs to the wall ten men Stuff by then but I liked the aggression and platform it gave the team. Flamini can do a job there for a game or two or 20 minutes to close out but not a whole season at the top level. And please don’t anyone bring up Diaby here!!

    I think there will be changes for Everton and hope that’s as bad as it gets this season. I know it’s one of those perverse chicken/egg scenarios, but I will reserve further judgement until 2nd September

  48. Damon, you are old enough to know better!

    Whether one believes in Arsene to get everything right or think he is no longer the man he was. Whether the team is strengthened before the season starts or not, Whether we play brilliantly and go on to win the league or…

    You know that sometime it will get worse this season. That’s as certain as night following day.

  49. Damon,

    Interesting comment.

    Not sure I understand the reference to Kozzer playing RCB because one of the positives of the night was young Chambers and he was playing right CB and only made one mistake.

    Kozzer also played pretty well, and was turned once by (???) when he was covering back against a break away attack, but my impression was that he was playing through that ankle injury. [Not a good thing to do],

  50. Morning Henry

    But the two occasions that a a turned Kozzer and got inside to shoot on goal was when he should’ve been ushered out to Ba’s left, but managed to cut in right. So on our right side?

  51. Damon,
    On those occasions, Kos was covering for Chambers. Hence the positioning.
    One reason why he may have let himself be turned (other than not being a right-sided CB) may be that Ba can shoot from both legs.

  52. Damon,
    Three possibilities – either he drifted too far up and got caught, or he covered for Arteta or Debuchy. Can’t remember what exactly.
    If you’re asking who Chambers subs for now, it’s Per.

  53. Wenger is sticking with Giroud and Sanogo because they are French. Ozil last season look like a flop because all of his effort wasted by Giroud. Believe me if Giroud were at Man city he would have been fifth choice.He is not good on ball, one against one or two defender. I think if he stick with him and not buying good striker or deploying Sanches/Campell centrally i bet Wenger will be sacked coming January

  54. Zdzis

    My initial post this morning suggested that I felt Debuchy was too advanced on occassion last night. I’ll stand by that.

    If you wanted to make an arguement for the fact that AW played an ACM at LW, meaning that we became unbalanced, forcing our attack predominantly down the right side and Debuchy was trying to capitalise on that issue, I would most certainly listen

  55. Damon,
    “I know people will say that LK was playing RCB.”
    My only problem with your comment was the same as HB had – why assume Koscielny was RCB if Chambers was it? For me, Debuchy definitely got caught up too far into Besiktas’ half too often, but I don’t think Koscielny or Arteta did enough to curb the Turks. After all, it’s the DM’s duty to make sure advanced full-backs get decent cover.
    This was also a general failing of our side – not only was there an imbalance on the wings, but there also seemed to be no plan for exploiting them properly. Giroud being off shape certainly contributed to that.
    In other words – I’m not arguing with you, merely trying to apply a correction. Sorry if you feel otherwise. I certainly feel Debuchy wanted to tap into the understanding he seems to have started forming with Sanchez. Besiktas are a decent side, but it showed that they had more dedication than ability. Had we fielded a well-prepared side, I’m sure the match highlights would not consist merely of Ba’s audacious long-range effort seconds from kick-off and Chambo’s powerful drive at the death with a lot of mishaps in between.

  56. Zdzis

    I think we’re saying the same thing and I’m not arguing with you over detail, simply suggesting that I can see there might be various viewpoints as to why Debuchy was so advanced and would listen to them all.

    I have been a strong advocate of adding in the CDM role and feel that last night again highlighted that. One of the reasons for it being, if you’re going to unleash Gibbs and Debuchy to support the attack, you need a CDM with the physical tools and the reading of the game to cover. We have the reading ability, but not the pace and strength

  57. Agreed. But I don’t expect that will happen now. The most likely candidates – Carvalho, Rabiot – don’t have the experience to confidently marshal the defence. The experienced ones don’t look like moving. The upshot is that the sooner you buy an inexperienced player, the sooner he’ll become experienced 🙂 I hope Wenger keeps that in mind…

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