Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Arsenal v Galatasaray Preview

Arsenal started their Champions League group with a 2-0 defeat away to Borussia Dortmund and they have the chance to make up for that result tonight. They play at home to Galatasaray in a game in which three points are an absolute must if they are to stand a real chance of qualifying from the group. It's a group Arsenal should be qualifying from, but that defeat to Dortmund has left them playing catch up.

Galatasaray didn't have a great start either and had to rely on a late goal to get a point at home to Anderlecht. The Belgian team are seen as the minnows in the group and Galatasaray's result could well be put into perspective when Dortmund visit Anderlecht tonight. Galatasaray have taken seven points from their first four league games in Turkey, but they did have the slight advantage of playing last Friday night to give them an extra day's rest before tonight.

With both Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta picking up injuries at the weekend Arsene Wenger is a little limited in his options for tonight. Jack Wilshere also picked up a knock and might not be risked although he is in the squad tonight. Abou Diaby might have had a hope of getting a game tonight, but it appears he's not quite up to it and isn't in the squad either.

With the current list of defensive injuries there's no real choice at the back with the same defence and goalkeeper as that used at the weekend bound to start again. It's a very risky game Arsenal are playing defensively at the moment with no experienced back up to call on after the much needed defensive arrivals never materialised in the transfer window. If they pick up another defensive injury it could deal a fatal blow to their chances of doing anything this season.

In midfield I guess Mathieu Flamini has to play the holding role, but his performances have been far from convincing this season. He was the player caught in possession on Saturday for Spurs to score their goal and he didn't cover himself in glory in the 2-0 defeat in Dortmund either. Arsenal's lack of strength in that area is another result of transfer inactivity at a time when the team was crying out for a new arrival. 

If Wilshere plays I would imagine Mesut Ozil will have to be in the number 10 role in front of him with Danny Welbeck again playing up front. The big choices could be who plays in the two wide roles and I think it has to be both Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Alexis has been on the bench recently but he surely has to start and Chamberlain did enough on Saturday to keep his place.

There's always the option of playing Chamberlain alongside or just in front of Flamini or even putting Santi Cazorla in there. I don't think Cazorla is strong enough to play that role, but Chamberlain has played there before and done quite well too. If Wilshere isn't risked and Chamberlain does play a deeper role I would then expect to see Cazorla play out wide. 

It would be plain crazy to move Ozil out wide again to accommodate another player in his favoured role. It didn't work well enough on Saturday and he has to play a more central role like he did in the 3-0 over Villa the previous week. I know Ozil played wide left in the German team which won the World Cup, but he is Arsenal's most creative player and record buy and the team needs to be built around him.

The bench may start to take a bit of a sparse look as Arsenal's annual injury problems mount yet again. It can't be a coincidence that so many players are picking up so many injuries yet again and the club have to find a way to combat them. 

As for the game itself I expect Galatasaray to try to sit tight and hold on to what they have while looking to hit Arsenal on the break or from a set piece. It's a tried and tested technique against Arsenal this season as in previous seasons and Arsenal will have to find a way to break them down. On a few occasions last season Arsenal came out in home games and absolutely blew the opposition away from the first minute and I would love to see such a performance for the first time this season.

Too often this season Arsenal have conceded the first goal and found themselves up against a massed defence as they tried to get back into the game. They have conceded first in four of their six league games and even though they managed to fight back in all of them they only won once in those games. They can't afford to keep conceding first as they won't always be able to get back into the game.

I hope to see something extra from Ozil and Alexis tonight in a competition which so often brings out the best of the best players. Both of them cost the club a lot of money and they're both capable of winning the game all on their own. If they're on their game they're both more than capable of making the difference in a very tight game.

The team will have to give a little more than they did on Saturday to earn a point against a very average Spurs side. After equalising in the second half the players couldn't summon up enough to put the required pressure Spurs which would have seen them crumble. Given the chance tonight they have to put Galatasaray to the sword and put themselves in a position to progress from the game and into the knockout stages.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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