Arsenal have been stumbling along the path, swaying this way and that when a normal pre season would be designed to help the players hit the ground running. This evening stumbles and rustiness cannot be an option as late August provides the team with one of the most important games of the season. A score draw or defeat will see Arsène Wenger miss the Champions League proper for the first time since he took over in 1996. You'd like to think that we simply have too much for the Turkish outfit but we are without an important part of our spine for tonight's clash that cannot be understated.
Arsenal Team News
Mikel Arteta is not far away from returning but he is not available tonight. Aaron Ramsey picked up a suspension in the first leg and I assume you haven't heard the news yet but here is a Goal.com exclusive for you, Oliver Giroud is out for some time.
Our replacements may well be better than our opposition but the absence of previous on pitch relationships will not be an easy hurdle to over come especially if Slaven Bilic goes all Crystal Palace on us and don't come to play at our party. Yaya Sanogo trained with the club after missing the Everton game with injury so he is an option. You'd think that Arsène will roll the dice on Koscielny's achilles given the magnitude of the game.
You'd imagine that Matty Flamster will continue to replace Mikel Arteta, especially as he had a decent enough game at Goodison Park at the weekend. Jack Wilshere could replace Aaron Ramsey with Mesut Özil back in the number 10 position but I just had a streak of fear flash across me. Can you get a streak of fear? Let's run with it anyway. What if Arsène is adamant that we stick to the 4-1-4-1 and selects his team based around that? Which would mean Mesut Özil continuing in a wide role and perhaps someone like Tomas Rosicky coming in for Aaron Ramsey dropping Santi Cazorla to the bench. It will be interesting to see if the 4-1-4-1 is here to stay or if it is a temporary measure until Özil is back fighting fit and stuff.
Then there is the obvious decision to make about our forward line. Really there is only two options. Bring in Yaya Sanogo as a like for like replacement for Giroud and play Alexis right and Ox/Santi on the left but I don't see that happening. I am convinced that Alexis Sanchez has been bought as our long term striker, and I think that is where he will play again this evening. He could have Santi's craft with Chamberlain's pace either side of him.
With Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell likely to be on the bench, I think we have enough firepower to overcome what I'm guessing will be a determined Besiktas side.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
If that is wrong then I'd imagine we will line up like this.
Or of course some variation of 4-1-4-1
I hope not.
As important as scoring the goals will be, it is vital that we defend well as a team and cut the mistakes down to zero. Should the away team score then that goal could be trouble for us. I think we will want to play in their half and press them like mad to not allow them time on the ball when they get it. I love when we play that way and play it well as we did against Manchester City at home a few years ago.
The ideal scenario would be for us to swarm all over them from the first whistle force them to give the ball away time and time again before Alexis sprints in behind collecting an Özil (playing central) pass and side footing into the corner in the first 10 minutes. But this is Arsenal and rarely do things come handed to us. This is my attempt of reverse jinxing.. even though I don't believing in jinxing at all so I am very confused. That is how important the game is.
Well it's all very simple really, we must win the game. As Arsene would say, let's show everyone how good we are.
Confirmed Line up, post match Q&A and all that good stuff later.