Galatasaray v Arsenal
Türk Telecom Arena
Kick off: December 9th, 2014 1945 GMT
In the most meaningless match (so far) this season we are going to play against the old foes from the UEFA Cup Final 2000, Galatasaray. The Turks have already lost all chances for any sort of European football in spring so they have nothing but their honour to play for. They haven’t won a single match in Champions’ League so far but tonight their luck might change.
In the red-and-white corner – Arsenal. The Gunners have had a disappointing league campaign so far and there is only a remote possibility for Arsenal to pip Borussia Dortmund for the top spot in the group. Winning the group would mean that we manage to avoid teams like Real Madrid or Bayern in the Knockout Stage. However, given that we have been drawn against the worst possible opponents in the Knockout Stage for four consecutive seasons, we can already start thinking about the clash against Real Madrid in 2015.
This match is actually a good opportunity for Arsene Wenger to finally give a rest to some of our most fatigued players (Alexis springs to mind first) and give a chance to players that have spent most of this campaign on the bench (Podolski, Campbell) and youngsters who are yet to taste Champions’ League football at the senior level.
As you might have noticed, I omitted the word “predicted” before the word “line-up” in the headline. It’s a logical thing to do given that Arsene Wenger has already announced which eleven are about to play against the Turkish side tonight.
Wojciech Szczesny returns between the sticks after four games with Emiliano Martinez in charge. The Argentinian didn’t have the best game against Stoke and Szczesny has been out since Kieran Gibbs accidentally injured him against Manchester United.
Massive boost for our team – Mathieu Debuchy on the right full-back position. The Frenchman hasn’t had too many games this season before he got injured but he is a proven player and his quality has been missed on the right side of our defence.
Per Mertesacker won’t be given a rest as the German is going to organize our defence one more time. His partner is going to be Calum Chambers who won’t play against Newcastle next weekend after being sent off against Stoke.
In the absence of our both left full-backs Hector Bellerin will get a chance to recover from a poor performance against Stoke. He is going to play on the left side though so miracles shouldn’t be expected from the Spanish youngster.
Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey will take their places in the middle of the pitch to form a combative duo against the hosts.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be our central attacking midfielder.
Joel Campbell and Lukas Podolski will attack down the flanks while Yaya Sanogo will try to at least double his tally of Champions’ League goals tonight.
Our bench will have a lot of youngsters sitting and waiting for the chance to shine. Chuba Akpom and Gedion Zelalem have already shown some of their skills to Arsenal fans while the same is expected from Alex Ivobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
We shouldn’t expect much from this team tonight – the hosts will want to make amends in front of their fans and take advantage of our weakened side.
Of course, every Gooner in the world wants Arsenal to win every game but the match against Newcastle is much more important at this moment.
Given that we still have enough quality in the team to score a goal or two, I’d say it’ll end 1:1 – Lukas Podolski to score after Aaron Ramsey’s pass.
Debuchy Mertesacker (c) Chambers Bellerin
Campbell Oxlade-Chamberlain Podolski
Galatasaray 1 v 1 Arsenal