Arsene Wenger has called upon his players to be on their toes ahead of ‘a big week’ that starts tonight with Champions League play-off, first leg against Besiktas.
The lads must get a positive result in Turkey ahead of the return leg at the Emirates in a week’s time but not after a tricky trip to Merseyside to face Everton next weekend.
Wenger is eyeing a record 17th Champions’ League group stage qualification and has let the boys know the importance of the clash against the Turkish outfit.
The boss told reporters:
It is a big test. We have had a short preparation and we know that in one week we have three big games with Besiktas home and away and Everton in between.
We have to be on our toes. We were not completely happy with our performance last Saturday (against Crystal Palace) and we want to improve.
I have good experience of the Champions League. I know you have to be pragmatic, but first we have to qualify. Before we can speak about anything else we have to put in two big performances against Besiktas.
Koscielny has been given a clean bill of health to feature which is a welcome boost although we will miss the services of Kieran Gibbs who has been ruled out with hamstring injury.
Odds favor us as we did so well in Turkey last season and Besiktas are only in the Champions League thanks to Fenerbahce being banned for match fixing.
However, they are unbeaten at home in 15 games and have signed a man who knows Arsenal quite well in Demba Ba, thus it won’t be a walk in the park.
That said, the boys should pull this off after Saturday’s morale boosting 2-1 Premier League over Crystal Palace.
Victory tonight will stand us in good stead ahead of the tricky trip to Goodison Park and I have a feeling this could be the match Alexis Sanchez opens his Arsenal account.