Champions League playoff – Arsenal vs Besiktas: What kind of a game are we in for? by SE
Arsenal take on Besiktas in the 2nd leg of the Champions League playoff tie at the Emirates later tonight, with the aggregate score tantalizingly poised at 0-0 from last week’s first leg in Istanbul. The Turkish outfit, contrary to expectations, put up a stern resistance at home and, had it not been for some flimsy finishing from Demba Ba and Co, the story could well have been different going into tonight’s game. However, on the balance of play, you got to say that both sides deserve to remain on parity. And, having witnessed an engrossing brand of football from both sides, in the first leg, what kind of a game are we in for, tomorrow?
Before the tie, it is not uncommon for both sides to experiment a bit and play with a bit more audacity in the first leg of the two-legged playoff tie. And, from whatever we saw last Tuesday, both sides did play an expansive game and weren’t feared of dishing out a counterpunch or two, when the opportunity presented itself.
What can we expect out of the game tonight?
In the second leg however, the dynamics of a two-legged tie will have its effect on the mindset of both teams – which is why it could turn out to be a tactical and attritional battle. Arsenal, playing at home, are expected to score more goals than their Turkish opponents, but it’s tough to say whether the Gunners will possess home advantage, like any other game in the Champions League. Besiktas, on the other hand, could well defend deep and catch a slightly weak Arsenal backline on the break.
Also, let us not become oblivious to the absentees in the Arsenal lineup, and the subsequent repercussions that could come with it. Aaron Ramsey’s suspension will not bode well for Wenger, as the Welshman is someone who gives Arsenal that drive and penetration from the middle of the park. Yes, Wilshere can be a joy to watch once he starts motoring forward, but Ramsey, with all the enhancements he has made to his game, can be that bit better. Ozil’s fitness will be put through a stern test, as well, and the German needs to wake up to the defensive duties expected of him.
Fitness could become a factor, especially for Arsenal, given the workload they have had to endure during this early part of the season. There are enough questions posed for Arsenal and Wenger, who are now tasked with the proposition of answering them.
It’s going to be a nervous battle for both teams; and, given the manner in which the tie is poised, after the first leg, Arsenal might not quite possess the advantage of playing at home. Besiktas will set up to counter-attack, which will not really surprise Arsenal, but their backline has to hold out against a Besiktas frontline that is chock-a-block with pace, precision and dynamism.