UEFA Champions League Play-Off Round: Arsenal vs Fenerbahce (3-0 agg.) – Preview


Arsenal host Fenerbahce in the return leg of their Champions League qualifier tomorrow night at the Emirates. The Gunners won the first leg comfortably in Istanbul last week, with three away goals, it would be an absolute shock if the Gunners fail to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger will take no risks though and will play a strong line-up against the Turkish club. Jack Wilshere is expected to return to the starting line-up having only been a substitute for Saturday’s 3-1 win at Fulham.

Jack Wilshere is expected to start tomorrow night for Arsenal.

Laurent Koscielny was suspended for the game at Craven Cottage but had picked up an injury in Istanbul last week, however, he is expected to be ok to play tomorrow night.

Arsenal will be without the likes of Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for this clash though.

From what Arsene Wenger and Carl Jenkinson have said in the press conference earlier, Arsenal are taking nothing for granted here. They have got themselves into a fantastic position in the tie and should go on to progress, but Fenerbahce will have absolutely nothing to lose tomorrow, so in a funny kind of way, the pressure is off of them and still on Arsenal to get through.

Even if a nightmare result did happen and the Gunners went out of the qualifier, Fenerbahce might not be playing in Europe next season anyway, with a decision on their appeal of a two-year ban for match-fixing set to be made the day after the return leg of this tie.

Arsenal have bounced back well from the disappointment of the opening day defeat to Aston Villa. The win in Turkey, followed by a win at Fulham at the weekend will have given the team a big boost in confidence.

Wenger has stated the importance of qualifying for the Champions League in relations to transfer targets. With about a week left in the transfer window, qualification into the group stages of the Champions League would certainly make Arsenal an attractive option for players, particularly if they play for a team that doesn’t play in the competition. For example, Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye is currently refusing to play for his club because he is hoping to force through a move to Arsenal.

Hopefully tomorrow will be fairly straight forward, Arsenal still have a job to do – protect what they have and hopefully add to the lead too.