Although the bread and butter stuff that is the Premier League is always the priority, for Arsenal and all the other top flight English clubs, Arsene Wenger has made no secret of how important the Champions League is to the club. So the two games against Besiktas, tonight and next Wednesday, are huge for the Gunners, but will that affect our approach, and will that have a knock-on affect in the coming weeks?
The Frenchman has previously spoken about his great pride at keeping Arsenal in the elite of Europe, despite the lack of funds. And he has suggested this week, as reported by ESPN, that getting in to the group stages again this season is taking priority over any other concerns at the moment, including the trip to Everton in the BPL on Saturday.
Wenger said, “We are desperate to do it because we want to play in the Champions League and we know how big these games are. We are desperate to go through. No matter what it costs we want to go through.
“We always have a difficult draw, we had Fenerbahce last year, this time we have Besiktas, so it is difficult.”
With the German World Cup winning trio of Ozil, Podolski and Mertesacker still unavailable and with Gibbs and Sanogo staying in London because of injury problems, the boss has a depleted squad to work with, especially at the back, so I would not be surprised to see Wenger take the game to our Turkish opponents, rather than trying to keep it tight.
Both our full backs, Monreal and Debuchy, are better going forwards than defending, while young Calum Chambers has done well but is very inexperienced in the centre and has never played in Europe. That suggests to me that we are not really set up to soak up a lot of pressure, so should we go on the assumption that attack is the best means of defence?