It was certainly a day to forget on the weekend with Arsenal slumping to defeat against Aston Villa. It seemed like the worst possible scenario as did we not only lose the match, but also suffered key injuries ahead of our crucial first-leg play-off against Super Lig runners-up Fenerbahce.
Fast forward to the present and at least we have some form of positive news on the injury front. Aside from Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been ruled out for at least three months with a serious knee injury, everyone else who looked to be worse for wear after Saturday’s match is available to play. Nacho Monreal has also returned to the squad to provide further depth.
Despite key returns to the squad, there is no doubt it still remains a battered squad that is going into this match light on confidence. When you throw into the mix the feeling of fans, it is absolutely crucial Arsenal win this match. It is not only important to boost the confidence of the players, but to at least give something positive to the supporters.
Luckily for Arsenal, the Super Lig runners-up have also not been at their best after succumbing to a surprise 3-2 defeat in their opening match of their domestic league. Fenerbahce managed to let a two goal lead slip away in the final 13 minutes of the match to newly promoted Konyaspor.
In addition to their shock loss, Feberbahce will also begin its hearing over a two year ban from European competition for domestic match fixing, but a result will not be issued until the day after the Turkish club clash with Arsenal at the Emirates a week later. In any case, Arsenal should not rely on a judgement in their favour.
Personally speaking, I feel this match could go either way. Both clubs are wounded and both clubs obviously want to bounce back. Eerily enough this does seem like a similar situation to 2011 where we faced Udinese and managed to pull through despite disappointing results in the league. I am definitely hoping they can apply the same resolve now! COYG
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Sagna Mertesacker (c) Koscielny Gibbs
Fenerbahce 1 Arsenal 2