Game : Arsenal vs Fenerbahce
Venue : Emirates Stadium, London
Date : November 5, 2008
Time : 19.45 GMT
After being physically outplayed by a passionate Stoke side, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal host Fenerbahce in the Champions League on Wednesday with one eye on qualification for the knockout stages.
Two throwins from Rory Delap proved to be the undoing of Arsenal against Stoke at the weekend. Gael Clichy’s late goal was not enough to save the Gunners, and Stoke again proved that a physical side could trouble the Gunners a lot, just like Bolton have done in the past. Wenger opted for a weird formation in midfield that saw Abou Diaby on the left, Denilson on the right, and Song and Fabregas in the center. To compund matters, Arsenal had Robin Van Persie sent off and Theo Walcott had to be stretchered off. There are also doubts over right back Bacary Sagna and striker Emmanuel Adebayor, both of whom were injured in the game. And all this is bad news for Wenger considering the fixture after Fenerbahce sees them play Manchester United. The absence of Walcott will please Fenerbahce, for the young winger was a constant source of trouble in Turkey a fortnight ago.
Fenerbahce lost 5-2 to Arsenal at home in their previous UCL clash, with defensive errors breaking their fifteen game unbeaten home run in Europe. Luis Aragones has led them to their worst Turkish league start in 20 years, and they may have to do without Alex who scored twice in their weekend 2-2 draw against Eskisehirspor. Prior to the draw, they beat Bursaspor 5-2 and overcame MKE Ankaragücü 1-0 in the Turkish cup. Like Arsenal, who have Manchester United coming up next, Fenerbahce’s next league clash is against bitter rivals Galatasaray. Fenerbahce are currently at the bottom of Group G, with one point from three games. Asking them to do a Liverpool and qualify for the next stage might be too much, but they will certainly want to atleast finish third so that they take the UEFA Cup spot.
Arsenal are a bit low on confidence, having thrown away a 4-2 lead against Tottenham and then losing to Stoke. A 1-1 draw may not be a bad option, for RVP and Dani Guiza scoring.