It should be business as usual for Arsenal in their Champions League playoff round
Arsenal, one of the this season’s Premier League title contenders, kick start their Champions League campaign, ahead of their rivals, against Besiktas in the playoff round starting tonight. The first leg of this two-legged tie is at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Turkey.
The buzz and concern surrounding this game, from Arsenal’s perspective, is rather funny. Demba Ba sounds confident of what his new side can achieve against the Premier League heavyweights come tonight. Arsene Wenger was quoted saying ‘no matter what it costs’, which was a tad strange, when asked of Arsenal’s clash against the Turkish outfit. I mean no disrespect to Besiktas and what they might offer, but Arsenal should win this easy over two legs.
Yes, the sequence of away and home legs in this playoff tie can be a bit tricky, more so if you don’t score in the first leg of the tie, which, in Arsenal’s case, would be away. And this is where Arsenal’s defence needs to hold out and make sure that they don’t concede cheap goals. If they can keep their rearguard closed and impenetrable, it would be half the job done for the Gunners, as they should have ‘too much’ for their Turkish opponents, in an attacking sense.
The only real concern for Wenger, if at all any, should be the team he wants to put out for tonight’s game. He will be well aware of the Everton clash in the Premier League this weekend, and ideally, you wouldn’t want your best players playing 3 games within a week. It would be suicidal to not start with your best team, however, considering the consequence you are up against. But that is why it is so important for Arsenal, in a defensive sense, to hold out and keep a clean sheet. It will, in anyway, do Arsenal a world of good. They can, then, start with their first choice XI, try to score in the first period and then rest some of the key personnel for this weekend.
If I was Wenger, I’d place immense significance on the defence playing up to scratch and keeping a clean sheet. Other than that, over two legs, Arsenal shouldn’t have a problem to score more goals than their Turkish opponents and seal their place in this year’s UEFA Champions League group stages.