Of all the games to be played in our Champions League group of this season, Galatasaray away was the one trip we didn’t want to be making with the need for a result. The Ali Sami Yen stadium, infamous for its hellish atmosphere, has not been a happy hunting ground for visiting teams especially from England…
As far as making the more lucrative rounds of the Champions League goes, Arsene Wenger has managed to possess a mastery of it for 15 years and counting, and despite the topsy-turvy nature of back-to-back games against Anderlecht, we’ve safely made it through to the Round-0f-16 this year, with one game to spare. And with the schedule of games just gone by, it is only reasonable that a whole host of first team players would be rested, not least, Alexis Sanchez.
He and others would take a deserved rest after the exertions of the previous weeks, thereby opening up space for a few players to make a serious impression on Wenger. Galatasaray are already hopeless of making the Europa League, hence there’ll be more motivation for our players to turn a composed performance under an atmosphere that would be not as feisty as it usually would be.
With a tally that stands at 10 points from a possible 15, we can boast of having achieved the two-thirds (majority!) needed to seal a passage into the Champions League, and while there still is a chance to claim top spot of the group, the likelihood of Anderlecht beating a depressed Dortmund in Germany is reasonably low. That notwithstanding, Wenger would still send out a strong contingent to Turkey to see the race to its finish.
“We’ll go with a strong team of course, we want to win the game,” Wenger said, as quoted on the club’s official website.
“Since the start of this season we have played seven games in the Champions League, including the qualifiers, and we have won four. I would like to win five.”
That win may not be very significant if Dortmund fail to lose at home, but it would go in some way to wipe the shame of a disastrous 45 minutes at Stoke at the weekend. Though there was a bit of fight showed to attempt a complete come-back, the fact we could easily have deservedly gone behind by a fourth goal shows that a draw would simply have papered over the cracks. It’s been an up and down, a rollercoaster ride so far this season, perhaps due to lack of freshness that comes with a variety of players been available for games.
Wenger will surely experiment on some variety on Tuesday, the likes of Joel Campbell, Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky sure to be handed starts. With the first two looking the most likely Arsenal players to be headed for a January exit, temporary or final, a starting berth in the Champions League should give us some idea of their readiness to either fight for a place in the squad or tell us if the white flag is already been waved. While the attack may change, the defence will largely remain the same, as there is not an overflowing mass of personnel available there for a rotation, even if Laurent Koscielny looks like he’ll seat out a second successive game.
It will be a good thing that we win the game, if only to restore some confidence going into another tough round of League fixtures against the high flying unbeaten Newcastle and top four rivals, Liverpool.
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