On December ninth, Arsenal travel to the Türk Telekom Arena to take on Turkish giants Galatasaray. This game is meaningless for the Turkish side as they are already locked into fourth place in the group. Arsenal could still move up into top spot in their group, but that would only happen with an Arsenal win coupled with Borussia Dortmund losing to Anderlecht in Germany. So, while it is still possible they move into first, this match doesn’t mean a whole lot to them either. Still, Arsenal will want to grab all three points just in case Dortmund slip up. Galatasaray on the other hand will be playing for pride. After an abysmal performance in the competition this season, the Turks will want to try to go out with a win.
Arsenal have unsurprisingly been bit by the injury bug and have been bit hard. The gunners will definetly be missing Theo Walcott, David Ospina, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta, and Mathieu Debuchy who have been out for extended periods of time. The English side may also be missing Tomas Rosicky, Nacho Monreal, and Yaya Sanogo who will all have fitness tests before the game. Along with all the injuries, Arsene Wenger has already confirmed that Alexis Sanchez will be rested. It would not surprise anyone of Wenger decided to rest other players as well before the hectic English Christmas period. Galatasaray wil be without Blerim Dzemaili and Hakan Balta.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides in Istanbul with the other two meetings between the sides came in London and in Copenhagen. Galatasaray came out victorious in Copenhagen on penalty kicks while Arsenal won the most recent meeting earlier this season when they won 4-1 at the Emirates. Arsenal do know there way to the Turkish capital though having to go there each of the last two season to face Fenerbahçe then Beşiktaş to qualify for the Champions League. Arsenal have never lost to a Turkish club in the Champions League. Galatasaray have not lost to an English side at home since 1999 when they lost to Arsenal’s London neighbors, Chelsea.
Galatasaray: Wesley Sneijder
The key man for Galatasaray is their midfield maestro, Wesley Sneijder. The Ajax youth product may not be the same player that he was a few years ago, but the Dutchman can still produce a match winning moment of magic every once and a while when he is called upon to do so. The former treble winner has created a chance every 42 minutes for the Turkish side in the league and one every 65 minutes in the Champions League. This shows that the former Real Madrid man and his team have had trouble readjusting from the lower level of competition in the Turkish League to the top quality in the Champions League. However, as he has shown with the Dutch national team, Sneijder has the quality to turn a match with one moment of magic. If he is able to produce one of those moments against Arsenal, it would go a long way to Galatasaray getting the victory.
Arsenal: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
Despite Arsenal’s patchy for so far this season, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has shined for the gunners and his performance will be vital against the Turkish giants. The young Englishman has really blossomed this season proving that he is one of the best young players around. Outside of the magical Alexis Sanchez, Oxlade Chamberlain has been Arsenal’s best player this season. The winger has created a chance every 40 minutes and has had a successful take on every 19.4 minutes. The 21 year old has shown that he can take a game by the scruff of the neck and make things happen. With Alexis Sanchez resting for this match, Oxlade Chamberlain’s ability to do this will be vital to the team.
This match is hard to predict since it is hard to know what kind of team will be put out. Since this match is essentially meaningless, players will be rested and the teams could be unrecognizable. Galatasaray are always hard to beat at home and, with Arsenal resting players to be prepared for the Christmas period, I could see a win for the home side. A lot of this match will depend on what kind of sides are put out, but I’m going to go with a Galatasaray win in this one.
Prediction: 2-1 Galatasaray