Vodafone Arena, Istanbul

August 19, 2014; 19:45 BST


Arsenal FC travel to Turkey to face Besiktas with a place in the group stages of the Champions League up for grabs. This is the second time in the last two years when the Gunners will face a Turkish opponent in the Champions League qualifiers.

The London club made a winning start to their Premier League campaign with a hard fought win over Crystal Palace as Aaron Ramsey scored a late winner. Besiktas on the other hand are coming into this fixture on the back of a convincing win over Feyenoord in the last round of the Champions League Qualifiers.

Team and tactics


Manager Slaven Bilic has two injury concerns ahead of this fixture. Former Chelsea midfielder Gokhan Tore is struggling with his fitness and could miss out on this game. But Bilic is biggest concern in the possible absence of Atiba Hutchinson.

The Besiktas coach is likely to use his preferred 4-4-2 formation with new signing Demba Ba leading the line alongside Mustafa Pektemek. The former Chelsea striker scored a hat-trick against Feynoord in the last round of Champions League qualification fixtures, to ensure Besiktas’ progress.

Necip Uysal and Veli Kavlak will pair up at the center of the midfield. The duo might be outnumbered while facing the 4-2-3-1 formation and Pektemek will have to drop deep to help them out. Olcay Sahan and Kerim Frei will provide the width down the fanks and with Gibbs out injured, Frei will look to test Nacho Monreal with his face.

Expected starting line-up (4-4-2): Zengin (GK); Kurtulus, Gulum, Franco, Ramon; Frei, Kavlak, Usyal, Sahan; Ba, Pektemek


Arsenal started their Premier League campaign with a win, but the win came at a cost as Kieran Gibbs picked up a hamstring problem. The Englishman is set to miss action for two to three weeks. Mathieu Flamini has recovered from his illness and has travelled with the squad. Meanwhile, French international Yaya Sanogo, who started the game against Crystal Palace, has also picked a hamstring problem and will miss the game tonight.

German internationals Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil, who have been provided with extended break, will not be part of the squad, but there is a possibility of Per Mertesacker playing a part in this game as there are doubts about the fitness of Laurent Koscielny.

With one eye on the upcoming match against Everton, Arsene Wenger could make five changes to the side that started against Crystal Palace. Nacho Monreal will replace the injured Kieran Gibbs in the defence, while Mathieu Flamini could replace Jack Wilshere in the midfield. Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla will drop down to the bench, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Campbell starting on the wings. Olivier Giroud will start in the place of the injured Yaya Sanogo and lead the attack.

Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Campbell; Giroud

Players to watch-out for: Demba Ba (Besiktas); Joel Campbell (Arsenal)

Prediction: Besiktas 1-2 Arsenal