Arsenal qualified to the Champions league group stage for the 17th hear in a row and Arsene Wenger’s incredible record remains intact. But for the vast majority of the game it wasn’t plain sailing at all, Besiktas pushed us all the way and thankfully our know how and experience got us through.
Arsene Wenger opted for Sanchez in the middle, Ozil and Ox on the flanks and Cazorla, Wilshere and Flamini in the middle. We started brightly, Ox and Debuchy in particular were impressive. Wilshere had a great opportunity but he scuffed his shot wide. Cazorla tried to lob the goalkeeper but it would be fair to say that he missed his target completely. Besiktas were contend to sit back and soak the pressure. Debuchy was booked for a shoulder on the head challenge.
Dominance was followed by carelessness and we almost let Besiktas score were it not for a well timed challenge by Debuchy. Minutes later Arsenal had hearts in their mouths when Wilshere looked to have tackled Motta from behind. Fortunately the ref didn’t fall for it but it was a huge let off for us. Just when it looked like the half was gonna end goalless, Sanchez slotted home from close range after the ball bobbled to him. A palpable amount of relief , a massively important goal, surely that was worth £30 Millions.
Arsenal started the second half with greater desire and drive and should have doubled the lead. Sanchez drove wide from the right when a pass would have been a better option. Chances were spurned by Arsenal, Koscielny and Debuchy couldn’t get a proper connection to the ball off a wicked free kick from Cazorla and to add to Arsenal’s woes Chamberlain somehow contrived to miss from three yards out. That miss would prove crucial as seconds later Debuchy was shown a second yellow card and sent off for an actually proper tackle. The first yellow, he can have no arguments about, the second one, pff wasn’t even a foul. This set up a nerve wracking finale, will our misses come back to bite us? Chambers was introduced for Ozil and the teenager was inexplicably booked for entering the field without the referee’s permission. Arsenal always seem to get strange bookings in Europe, remember VanPersie at NouCamp. I am afraid Arsene Wenger may be sent off to the stands cause Gunnersaurus wore pink boots.
Crunching tackles and superb blocks were made by both sides and this group showed why they are a better lot than their predecessors, they were resilient, working for each other and in the end Arsenal progressed to the group stage happily ever after.
SANCHEZ- Hardworking and Live wire, my man of the match.
CAZORLA- Back to his a buzzing best and was excellent defensively.
JACK-His best game for a long time.
MERTESCIELNY -Awesome as ever.