Only one non-Gunner in our Arsenal v Besiktas Mix n Match
Although they are still expected to qualify for the Champions League proper, a few doubts have crept into Arsenal minds ahead of the second-leg of their play-off against Besiktas.
Olivier Giroud’s long-term injury leaves the Gunners very short on firepower, while Aaron Ramsey is suspended after being sent off in the goalless draw in the first-leg in Turkey.
It is not surprising the Gunners are so heavily fancied, as just one of the Turkish club’s players makes our combined eleven from the two teams.
Wojciech Szczesny gets the nod in goal ahead of Tolga Zengin after sharing the Premier League’s Golden Glove award with Petr Cech following his 16 clean sheets last season.
An all-Arsenal back four reunites Laurent Koscielny with Per Mertesacker now both are fully fit, with Colombian Pedro Franco and Calum Chambers fighting it out to be first reserve.
On the flanks, Mathieu Debuchy has made a solid start to life in north London, while Kieran Gibbs fends off Nacho Monreal and Brazilian Ramon due to his greater attacking ability.
Even without Ramsey, Arsenal have far more quality available in the middle of the park, and Mathieu Flamini is installed as the enforcer at the base of the midfield despite Veli Kaclak’s impressive eight tackles in the first-leg.
Ramsey’s absence frees Jack Wilshere up to play in a more attacking role ahead of the French defensive midfielder.
Perhaps the most unlucky Besiktas player to miss out is Oguzhan Ozyakup, who created a massive five chances in the first-leg, but Mesut Ozil’s greater pedigree as a playmaker is hard to ignore.
Joining Ozil in our attacking midfield is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez. The England international looked in fine fettle against Everton, completing four dribbles and firing off five shots.
Sanchez’s quiet start to life at Arsenal has dimmed some enthusiasm around the Chilean, but his 19 goals and 10 assists for Barcelona in La Liga last season means Mustafa Pektemek misses out.
We find Besiktas’ one representative in attack, with Demba Ba leading the line after joining the Turkish club from Chelsea over the summer.
Arsenal themselves have been linked with a move for Ba a fair few times in recent years, they better hope he doesn’t make them pay for not grabbing their chance to sign him with a goal or two at the Emirates.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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