Arsenal took on Besiktas at the Emirates for a place to take part in the group stages of the money spinning UEFA Champions League. A goalless stalemate had given this tie a do-or-die game for Arsene Wenger. With Aaron Ramsey suspended and the duo of Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud injured, Arsenal had to sweat it out to get a hard earned 1-0 victory over the Turks thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s first goal for the North London side.
The gunners could have added more goals to their 1-0 victory but Santi Cazorla, Chamberlain, Wilshere and Debuchy will count their missed luck or chance. The gunners did end the game with 10 men just like in Instanbul after Debuchy got his second yellow card of the game.
1. Sanchez Breaks his Arsenal Duck.
Alexis Sanchez finally opened his Arsenal account as his goal separated the two sides at the stroke of half-time. The Chilean huffed and puffed but found it difficult to be a lone man upfront, merely troubling the center backs. Just as Wenger had said, he is yet physically fit and yet to understand his team mates. The Chilean put the miseries of his Goodison Park performance behind and muscled his way around the Turks. A well placed goal from the former Barcelona made the difference. Can the flood gates open now? Burnley next.
2. Flamini Misses his Meal for Debuchy
Flamini has craved a niche for himself as the Balon D’Yellow card of Ashburton Grove. The French midfielder has collected a yellow card each in every game he has played this season. His rash and awkward tackles earns him the caution card as he bids to do his defensive duties. It is surprising and surely heartwarming that he didn’t receive a card despite the fact that the referee was having a card bonanza day on the pitch. Keep it up Elijah. Unfortunately, Debuchy got two of Flamini’s favoured meals and had to take an early shower.
3. Wilshere’s Slick
Jack Wilshere seems to be playing better as the day comes by. The England international was at the helm of affairs as the gunners worked their socks out to get this victory. He slalomed his way into the Besiktas box in the 8th minutes but dragged his shot wide after keeping off two men in black.
Jack was on again for Sanchez’s goal. The goal came after good work from Wilshere on the edge of the box to collect a loose ball, play a one-two with Ozil and find Alexis, who slotted home coolly into the bottom corner. Wilshere made a lot of quick footed runs towards the opponents goal but will count himself lucky not to give away a penalty in the 1st half.
4. Nervy End, Tight End
The last 15 minutes of the game was lived on the edge of the great cliff. Besiktas looked rejuvenated and had threats on goal. With the sending off of Debuchy, Chambers had to come in for tired Ozil as the gunners aimed at keeping their sheet clean. The pressure continued to mount with last gasp tackles from Koscienly and the defense. Sanchez was left ipfront alone as the red army sustained waves of black attacks. Szczesny collected a couple of aerial balls but Ba would rue his missed headed chances.
This strong will and verve to hold on to 1-0 leads will be very important for the gunners in their quest for a trophy this season. This could have been avoided if the gunners had converted their chances earlier on in the game. A conceded goal would have started an uprising that would ruin all that has been built.
5. 17 Again, Not 4th Again
So, the Gunners have now qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 17th straight time. The gunners have needed the services of the play-offs in recent time to achieve this feat but must move one step to avoid this type of tension and added stress to the fans and players respectively. Finishing above fourth will spare the gunners a lot of rest in a new season. Winning the premier League will make things easier. Goal from jersey number 17, and Arsenal are in their 17th consecutive UCL group stage.
Giroud is out for 3-4 months and have undergone a surgery. Alex Song will not return. Wenger will not buy Zigic or Welbeck or Falcao. – according to his comment after the game.
So, it is transfer and Leicester next. Anyone coming in? we sure do need a striker. But let us also watch out for the draws on Thursday.