Arsenal in attack shortage for crunch play-off with Besiktas
Arsenal arrived back to north London from Istanbul, after their Champions League play-off first leg 0-0 draw with Besiktas, without a crucial away goal, but are still heavy odds-on favourites at 2/9 to qualify for the group stages.
The Gunners, 4/11 to win in 90 minutes, go into this game on the back of a spirited late comeback draw with Everton in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger’s men went 2-0 down at Goodison Park, but late goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud secured their side a point.
However, those two scorers will be unable to feature at the Emirates against the Turkish side, with Welshman Ramsey suspended after his sending off in the first leg, and star striker Giroud out with a possibly broken ankle. Fellow ankle injury sufferer Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, is also a doubt, while forward men Yaya Sanogo and Theo Walcott could be sidelined as well.
That leaves the Arsenal attack very thin, with just usual widemen Lukas Podolski (9/2 to score first) and Alexis Sanchez (5/1 to bag a brace or better) viable options. That could mean a start for Costa Rican World Cup hero Joel Campbell, who is 7/4 to grab a goal.
Wenger, though, is optimistic about his side’s chances, following Arsenal’s recent Premier League result. “[The Everton draw] makes us strong in our belief and that’s an important quality for Wednesday night,” he said.
“This game was very physical, let’s prepare well and then I believe we have a good chance.”
For away side Besiktas, who are 10/3 to qualify and 8/1 to win in 90 minutes, they will be able to call upon new signing Demba Ba again. The former Chelsea and Newcastle United frontman nearly scored one of the quickest goals in the history against the Gunners in Turkey, after his close attempt from the kick-off. The Senegal star is 11/4 to net anytime and 8/1 to be on target first.
Arsenal can take heart of the fact that no Turkish team have beaten them in 90 minutes. However, Wenger will know that a score draw will see his side eliminated. Besiktas, meanwhile, have won in England before, against Chelsea in 2003 and Manchester United in 2009.