While Arsenal go into their second-leg clash with Fenerbahce 3-0 up on aggregate, there is still no room for complacency, particularly with the North London derby on the horizon. Furthermore, it must also be said that securing passage to the Champions League group stage is extremely imperative to any chances of significant signings in the final week of the transfer window. As of yet Arsenal have made only one signing and are fast running out of time to make any significant additions, but the lure of Champions League should help them in that regard.
The importance of this match is certainly at the forefront of Wenger’s mind. Some felt that the hefty aggregate lead would allow the Frenchman to employ some rotation and rest key players ahead of the Tottenham clash on the weekend. However, Le Professeur has confirmed that he will field a full-strength side to get the job done.
Personally, I agree with this approach. 3-0 is certainly not a done deal and a full-strength side should keep the game out of reach. Consistency is important and another win would give the players a further boost in confidence and will keep the ball rolling ahead of our clash with the Spuds. In any case, it is likely that Wenger will rotate in the latter stages of the match provided Arsenal are cruising.
In terms of team news, the line-up from the clash against Fulham has been confirmed to remain largely the same. In saying that however, Wenger has confirmed that Wilshere will return to the starting line-up after sitting out at the weekend, meaning Rosicky is the one likely to be rested. Koscielny also returns to the squad, although it remains to be seen whether he will be started. This could mean Jenkinson may have to be content with a spot on the bench with Sagna being shifted out to his usual position on the right.
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Looking at our Turkish opponents, it is clear they really have nothing to lose. The court hearing that is to decide their fate in European competition is still pending and there is no doubt they will want to restore some semblance of pride after being comfortably beaten at their home ground last week. I have a feeling they will come out a better side in comparison to what we saw last week.
We only have to look back at Arsenal’s second-leg match against Bayern last season to see that a two-leg tie is never dead and buried after the first-leg. Wenger seems to think the same by deciding to field a full-strength side to finish the job. The first goal will be of the utmost importance in this tie as we don’t want our opponents to get any sniff of a comeback. Hopefully the team shows plenty of urgency from the first whistle to control the entire run of play.
Jenkinson Sagna Mertesacker (c) Gibbs
Arsenal 2 Fenerbahce 0