Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsene Wenger's side host Fenerbahce in the Champions League play-off second leg on Tuesday evening. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Engin Bas for their views.
The key feature of Arsenal's first-leg victory in Istanbul was their attacking down the right flank, where Theo Walcott was constantly dangerous.
He played extremely high up the pitch, often level with Olivier Giroud, and repeatedly tried to get in behind Fenerbahce left-back Michael Kadlec. Arsenal will surely look to find Walcott in behind again on Tuesday evening, although Ersun Yanal might use another left back, perhaps moving Kadlec to centre-back.
"Emmanuel Emenike replaced Pierre Webo midway through the first leg – and might start this game, especially as he’s capable of playing anywhere across the front three"
It was a strong showing in central midfield that allowed Arsenal to dominate the game, and the partnership between Ramsey and Jack Wilshere was particularly pleasing. Ramsey played 79 passes, more than any other player, and his defensive work was also excellent – no-one made more than his five tackles throughout the contest. In terms of both retaining the ball and winning it back, Ramsey was the key reason Arsenal dominated possession away from home – using possession play to calm the tempo of the second leg might be useful.
Yanal has a strong squad and it’s likely he’ll make changes from the side that started the first leg. At the back, Kadlec could switch to the centre of defence with Hasan Kaldarim coming in at left-back – he might be more comfortable against the pace of Walcott. Turkish international Gökhan Gönül, who replaced right-back Bekir Irtegun at half-time of the first leg, should be fit enough to start here – he’s a greater attacking threat, and a better all-round footballer.
In midfield, Brazilian Cristian could be used in an aggressive harrying role high up the pitch, in attempt to disrupt Arsenal’s passing – he’s also capable of powerful long-range shots, potentially useful considering Fenerbahce only tested Wojciech Szczesny twice all evening in Istanbul. Youngsters Alper Potuk, a substitute in the first leg, and Salih Uçan might also get an opportunity.
Up front, Emmanuel Emenike replaced Pierre Webo midway through the first leg – and might start this game, especially as he’s capable of playing anywhere across the front three.
Nevertheless, Arsenal won’t adapt too much to any potential changes, and considering how effective Walcott’s pace proved on the counter-attack, Arsene Wenger’s side shouldn’t be too disappointed if Fenerbahce attack more, leaving space to break into.
Fenerbahce were not expecting to lose the first leg by three goals so there was a huge disappointment around the club after last week's result. Arsenal's gameplan worked well but after the match, Ersun Yanal was criticised for being outthought by Arsene Wenger.
"Fenerbahce really have nothing to lose so I imagine that Yanal will tell his team to go out there and enjoy themselves"
I'm not sure how much hope there is that Fenerbahce can still qualify but they will be looking for a positive performance. They will need to start well and score early on.
Yanal will have hope of pulling off a miracle and is likely to name a more attacking line-up. Emmanuel Emenike, who looked lively after coming off the bench last week, could start alongside Moussa Sow in attack, with a more attack-minded midfield selected. Highly-rated teenager Salih Ucan may feature -he has been linked with both Arsenal and Manchester United.
Fenerbahce really have nothing to lose so I imagine that Yanal will tell his team to go out there and enjoy themselves. I think there could be lots of goals as a result.
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