Gunners to make Galatasaray pay again following domestic fallout
Arsenal, outsiders at 8/1 to win Group D, are still in with a slim chance of topping their pool if they triumph in Turkey and Borussia Dortmund lose their battle with Belgian upstarts Anderlecht.
The Gunners, 7/5 favourites with Coral to win, smashed Galatasaray 4-1 in the reverse on home turf, and are 45/1 to repeat that feat in Istanbul and 10/3 to score three or more.
A trip to Turkey, and the ferocious atmosphere of the Turk Telecom Arena, may be the last thing Arsene Wenger’s embittered side feel like facing after a shock loss to Stoke City.
However, another scalp in Europe may go some way to boosting their confidence before a potentially problematic trip to St James’ Park.
Due to the festive fixture list pile-up, Wenger is considering resting some of his top stars to avoid fatigue, stating: “some players are really on the fringe of getting serious injury risk so we will assess the situation.”
As Arsenal have already qualified for the last 16, Gunners top scorer Alexis Sanchez is expected to stay behind, which will give hope to the hosts, who are 19/10 to win and compound Wenger’s woes.
The Arsenal boss was, however, keen to stress he would “go with a strong team because we want to win the game”. Before he added: “We have played seven Champions League games and won four. I would like to win five.”
Danny Welbeck hit a memorable hat-trick to help demolish Gala at the Emirates, and is 7/1 to bag a brace or better again after losing his starting spot to Olivier Giroud last time out.
France forward Giroud struggled against Stoke and, despite announcing his return from injury with a sensational strike against Manchester United, is not yet up to speed.
Welbeck’s dynamism, link-up play and work-rate were much-missed against the Potters and the England international is expected to seize his chance to lead against the Lions.
Out-of-favour forward Lukas Podolski (7/4 to score anytime) and young Gunners Joel Campbell (11/4) and Yaya Sanago (11/4) are also expected to be involved, as Theo Walcott sits out with a groin injury.
Centre back star Laurent Koscielny is also set to benefit from an extended break, but Mathieu Debuchy could return to boost Wenger’s backline options.
As the inquest into Arsenal’s failures on the domestic front rattles on, Galatasaray can use the opportunity to take advantage of the distraction and depleted squad.
The Turkish capital club are already unable to qualify but can still go out in style, and are capable of causing the Gunners a European embarrassment.
Forward threat Burak Yilmaz grabbed a consolation goal last time these two teams met, and is 6/1 to fire home first and capitalise on Arsenal’s lack of steel and leadership once again.
Ex-Inter attackers Goran Pandev and Wesley Sneijder are also excellent value at 11/4 and 10/3 respectively in the anytime market to thrive in front of their home crowd and test Wenger’s squad depth.