Ramsey To Roll Out Another Against Besiktas
Besiktas v Arsenal
Arsenal get their Champions League challenge underway when they face Turkish side Besiktas on Tuesday with the lucrative group stage in sight for both clubs.
Besiktas have yet to get underway in the Turkish Superleague but overcame Dutch side Feyenoord with an impressive win over two legs in an earlier round of the Champions League qualifiers. Former Croatia boss and West Ham defender Slaven Bilic calls the shots at the club and saw his side win both legs of the qualifier thanks to a 2-1 win in Rotterdam and a 3-1 win in home leg back in Istanbul.
Mustafe Pektemek and Kerim Frei gave them a 2-0 lead in the Netherlands before a late goal gave Feyenoord hope in the second leg but it proved futile as a hat-trick from new signing Demba Ba ensured safe passage to this round for ther Croat’s side.
The Gunners have won both of their games thus far in the new campaign, despite boss Arsene Wenger giving extended holidays to many of his squad involved in the World Cup. A stoppage time winner from Aaron Ramsey earned his side all three points against Crystal Palace in their opening Premier League game after Laurent Koscielny and Brede Hangeland had traded set-piece goals in the first half.
Ramsey also got in the scoresheet in Arsenal’s 3-0 Community Shield victory over Manchester City at Wembley with strikes from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud roiunding off what proved to be comfortable win against the league champions.
Bilic could hand starts to new recruits Ramon Motta in defence, Gokhan Tore in midfield and Cenk Tosun up front. Ba should continue up top too as the former Premier League star looks to continue his fine start since signing from Chelsea.
Theo Walcott remains sidelined for the Gunners with the winger unlikely to play a part until the end of next month as he continues his recovery from a serious knee injury. German trio Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker are all lacking in match fitness following their late return from a successful World Cup in Brazil.
New signing Calum Chambers should continue to fill in for Mertesacker while Wenger also has to decide between Olivier Giroud, who also made a late return to pre-season, and Yaya Sanogo up front.
This will be the first time these sides have met in European competition, although Arsenal did knock Turkish opposition out at this stage of the competition last season with a 5-0 victory on aggregate over Fenerbahce. Besiktas have won four of fourteen ties against English opponents while the Gunners have yet to lose in seven matches against teams from Turkey, winning four.
A confident Arsenal side should qualify for the group stages without too much difficulty so the 8/13 on an away win here looks set to prove profitable.
They made hard work of a resolute Palace side at the weekend but Besiktas are less likely to offer such stout defending while Ramsey has started the season in much the same fashion as he did the last with goals in both appearances to date for the Welshman. Take him to make it three from three in a win for Wenger’s men at a chunky 12/5.