Arsenal host Galatasaray in the second game week of the group stages of the Champions league on the back of a poor run of results in which they have won just one out of their last six matches including no wins from their last three games at the Emirates. The Turkish side meanwhile have also had a tough start to life under new manager Cesare Prandelli with two wins from their six games this season including a late draw against Anderlecht when Burak Yilmaz equalised in stoppage time to earn a hard-fought draw for his side.
Arsenal were torn to shreds in their opening group stage match against Dortmund two weeks ago and were lucky to come back from Germany with the 2-0 loss as the home side fired in 23 shots at Szczesny’s goal wasting some glorious opportunities in the process.
At the Emirates on Tuesday night, the initiative will be on Arsenal to be off the blocks quickly and take the game to their opponents from Istanbul. With a trip to Belgium in the next game week, Arsene Wenger knows that this is a must win game for them whereas one would think that Prandelli would be satisfied with a draw though his side are more than capable of springing up a surprise on their day, as they did last year in the hailstorm against Juventus.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta were forced to come with hamstring and calf injuries respectively during Saturday’s North London Derby and will miss the match against Galatasaray. Jack Wilshere is a doubt having suffered a twisted ankle though he did carry on playing most of the match.
Galatasaray: Hamit Altıntop made his comeback from injury when he came on as a substitute for the final 13 minutes though it’s unlikely that he’ll make the starting eleven as Prandelli has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Arsenal (4-1-4-1): Szczesny; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini; Sanchez, Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla; Welbeck
Galatasaray (3-5-1-1): Muslera; Kaya, Melo, Chedjou; Sari, Adin, Dzemaili, Inan, Camdal; Sneijder, Yilmaz
The only time the two sides met was in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup final in Copenhagen, Denmark. The match ended in a goalless draw with Galatasaray going on to win 4-1 on penalties and became the first Turkish side to win a UEFA competition.
Arsenal have never lost a Champions League match against Turkish opponents, winning 5 and drawing 4. Three wins and a draw came on home soil.
Arsenal have only conceded goals against a club from Turkey in one of those nine meetings, when Fenerbahce scored twice in a 5-2 win for the Gunners.
In 18 matches against English opponents, Galatasaray have recorded just 3 wins, with 8 draws and 7 losses. They have lost 6 out of their 9 trips to England and have drawn thrice.
Galatasaray famously knocked out Manchester United in the second round of the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League. A goalless second leg in Istanbul was enough after they drew 3-3 at Old Trafford in the first leg.
Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez netted the goal that secured Arsenal’s passage to the group stages and having come on for the last half an hour as a substitute against Spurs, he would be raring to go on the European stage. The Chilean has scored four goals in his last six appearances for the club and the Gunners will be relying on the explosive forward to fire them to three points on Wednesday.
Galatasaray: Felipe Melo
The 31 year-old Brazilian has a big task on his hand regardless of whether he plays in a back three as he did in Friday’s 2-1 win over Sivasspor or as his favoured central defensive midfield position. He will be tasked with stopping the creativity that flows at the Emirates when Arsenal are at their full flow, and will need to be on top of his game if the Turkish side hope to get anything out of this game.
With a trip to Stamford Bridge three days after this match, an injury ravaged Arsenal side will be desperate for a morale boosting win, and the likes of Ozil and Sanchez should have enough firepower to score at least a couple of goals past Galatasaray in what should be a tight game.