The latest Champions League qualifier game saw The Gunners take on Turkish Super Liga team Besiktas on Tuesday 19th August, with a disappointing 0-0 finish that can only be summed up by missed opportunities.
The Gunners will be taking on Besiktas once again for the second stage of the qualifying rounds on Wednesday 27th August, this time on home soil – an advantage which, judging by their last game’s efforts could be just what they need. Besiktas will also be without manager Slaven Bilic after he received a touchline ban for his antics in the first leg.
Indeed, Arsenal could easily have triumphed over their Turkish rivals had they been on home soil and had they not had the misfortune of Aaron Ramsey’s two yellow cards.
Ramsey’s second yellow card, dealt by Serbian referee Milorad Mazicfor an alleged foul, saw the 23-year-old sent off in the 79thminute.
Wenger was quick to express his discontentment at Mazic’s decision, saying: “To send off Ramsey was wrong and it was a huge decision. I felt just a lot was wrong in the second half but, overall, it was a difficult game maybe to referee as well.”
But Ramsey’s dismissal wasn’t the only bad luck that Arsenal faced during their clash with Besiktas at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium. A last minute substitution saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain taking to the pitch and almost sinking a beautiful goal, only to hit the post.
Oxlade-Chamberlain wasn’t the only player to have been plagued by inaccuracies – Demba Ba, recently transferred from Chelsea, put up a good fight but narrowly missed a long range goal shortly after the kick off. After a great hat trick debut against Feyenoord, it could be argued that Arsenal has something to worry about when it comes to the 29-year-old forward.
However, with odds of 25/1 to win the Champions League outright, Arsenal should look forward to a breezy game on their home soil at the Emirates next week. Wenger is feeling confident about the match but not complacent – he said: “We are a bit short at the back. I’m worried, but we should have Mertesacker and Ozil and Podolski available again at the weekend. Let’s hope they are in good shape when we go home.”
The Gunners have already had a promising start to the football season after beating Crystal Palace 2-1 at home on Saturday 16thAugust. Coupled with their victory over former Premier League winners Manchester City at Wembley recently, there’s every reason why they should have high hopes for the Champions League.