Arsenal vs Besiktas: Arsenal exuded character and hunger, again! by SE
Arsenal took on Besiktas in the 2nd leg of their Champions League playoff tie against Besiktas last night, needing an outright win to progress through to the group stages of the competition for the 17th year running.
Wenger’s men had a depleted squad to choose from, after injuries to Giroud, Arteta and Gibbs handicapped the manager from choosing his first choice XI. More importantly, Ramsey’s suspension from the first leg of the tie meant that Cazorla filled in for the Welshman, alongside Wilshere, in the middle of the park. However, it was invigorating to see Arsenal reign supreme, at the end of two legs, and progress to the group stages of Champions League for the 17th year running.
Last week, against Everton, when Arsenal were up against it big time, they managed to rescue themselves by scoring two equalizing goals, thereby rescuing a crucial away point in the Premier League.
Last night, again, Arsenal didn’t enjoy comprehensive home advantage, owing to the away-goal rule, which would have seen a score draw work in favor of the Turkish outfit. But the way the Arsenal players enjoyed the moment and took it upon themselves, to overcome what has been a difficult period for them – due to injuries and the pile of fixtures – was possibly the biggest positive to come out of last night’s game.
Arsenal were aided by Besiktas’s lack of quality, in the final third of the pitch, but take no credit away from the Arsenal backline, which ensured that the Turkish outfit had no clear chances over the entirety of 90 minutes. Yes, there was a rather terrifying moment for Arsenal, right towards the end of 90 minutes, when Tore swung in a cross from the Right-Wing, trying to pick out Demba Ba, who failed to make contact with a tantalizingly floated ball into the 6-yard box.
Defensively, it was heartening to see the forwards and midfielders chock-a-block with burning energy to drop back, defend, and help out their defenders, which was crucial to Arsenal progressing through to the group stages of the tournament.
The Gunners weren’t really at their best last night, and it was understandable that the pressure of progressing through to the group stages had its effect on Wenger’s men. But, even in those most difficult of circumstances, Arsenal managing to hold out and get the job done is a testament to their character and hunger for the second time in 5 days – something that will keep them in good stead, over the course of the campaign