Arsenal aim to finish off Fenerbahce on Tuesday
Going home to the Emirates with a 3-0 lead against Turkish side Fenerbahce in a Champions League qualifying series seems like an ideal position to be in for Arsenal. And it is, unless they suffer a meltdown of epic proportions in the second leg on Tuesday. However, all football matches are played on the pitch, not on paper and in the chatrooms.
Anything can happen once a match kicks off and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and his players realize this and that’s why they know a solid effort is going to be needed. Fenerbahce isn’t going to mail the three points in for Arsenal to take. They will be playing for pride at the very least. Wenger assured fans that he’s going to field a strong team to make sure there aren’t any slipups along the way.
If Arsenal hangs on to win the tie they’ll be guaranteed of a place in the group stage of the Champions League for the 16th consecutive year. The Gunners also have a huge derby next weekend against Tottenham, but Wenger said he has to take one game at a time and isn’t about to risk the match against Istanbul’s Fenerbahce and won’t take any chances with his lineup.
He told reporters, “We have made a big step, but it’s not over the line. Now we want to finish the job, because that is a big part of our season. The group stage of the Champions League is highly important. I will not rest players on Tuesday night, certainly not.”
Arsenal should have their confidence back now after beating Fenerbahce 3-0 and Fulham 3-1 in away matches last week. The victories were much needed after dropping the first game of the Premier League season 3-1 to Aston Villa at the Emirates. The club should have Laurent Koscielny back in the squad on Tuesday. He received a boot to the head in the first leg against Fenerbahce and had to have a nasty cut stitched up. He sat our Saturday’s game at Craven Cottage due to a suspension for being sent off with two yellow cards against Villa.
Perhaps the most impressive Gunners so far this season have been striker Olivier Giroud and midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Giroud has scored a goal in each of Arsenal’s three matches this season and Welsh midfielder Ramsey was man of the man in the past two contests. Wenger stated, “Ramsey is a young player. A year ago he was highly under scrutiny and people had major doubts. This guy deserves huge credit for having moved forward the way he did and we deserve some as well, because we continued to develop him and believe in him.”
Arsenal will definitely have to play without the services of winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after he suffered a knee injury against Villa. He’s likely going to be out of action from six to 12 weeks. Also, midfielders Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta will probably miss the match due to injuries.
Fenerbahce manager Ersun Yanal has his back to the wall here and he doesn’t have a choice other than to start his best 11. He rested several top players on the weekend and still managed to beat Eskisehirspor 1-0 in a Turkish Super Lig match. This means we should expect to see Michal Kadlec, Emre, Joseph Yobo, Moussa Sow, and Mehmet Topal all start the game.
Arsenal has been beaten at home twice before by three goals in European competition in the past 50 years. However, Fenerbahce has managed to score a total of just three goals in eight previous games in England. The odds certainly look good for the Gunners to advance. And should Fenerbahce pull off a minor miracle in London on Tuesday, they could still be denied a spot in the group stage.
They’ve been booted out of the Champions League for the next two seasons by UEFA for match-fixing. The only reason they’re still playing is because the club is waiting for an answer on their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. They’re supposed to get this on Wednesday.