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No Champions League Turkish Delight

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Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı Otopark

19th August 2014 7:45pm

Attendance: 41531


Wenger felt this would be a testing game flagging up the state of the pitch and blustery conditions before kickoff. Valid enough observations but a gift for cynical pundits (is there any other kind?) who were bound to see it as excuse making.

To what extent these factors inhibited control or not would be difficult to quantify even without the background of a similar poor midfield performance on a perfectly good pitch against Crystal Palace at the weekend. With Alexis looking to play on the right but off a front man the balance of midfield with Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere just doesn't work for me. Arteta as the anchor midfield does what he does competently enough but as a creative trio those around him just don't seem to work as balanced unit. One of Wilshere or Ramsey should probably drop out when Ozil is back. For the space left it doesn't seem likely that Jack would get the nod ahead of Ramsey but he seemed the more productive in this game. Ramsey was trying to be too clever at times while the simplicity he credits with his improvement last season seems to have been forgotten. He needs to get that back into his head.

Frustration aside it was an entertaining and open game though we only manged 3 shots on target. Besiktas had their chances and had they been a better team might well have taken one of them. Ba's audacious attempt from the kick off almost caught Szczesny out but he was alert enough to tip the attempt onto the bar. Ba also had a great attempt later in the half meeting a cross on the volley which Szczesny again was alert and positionally sound enough to read and parry.

Giroud had a game he would wish to forget but few will let him unless he shows a dramatic improvement in his control and movement. I've never liked the tactic of trying to bounce the ball off a target man but Giroud has at times shown strength and a deftness of touch that has made it work often enough to justify the tactic but that deftness of touch just hasn't been there in his last couple of outings. Whether the recruitment of Alexis and Campbell offers more tactical options I'm not sure but we may need to find an opportunity to try them out before too long.

On the positive side Chambers continues to impress. He does seem to read the game extraordinarily well for a 19 year old. Mertesacker should be back now which, assuming Kos remains fit, should mean that Calum will be warming the bench for a time. It would be a shame in a way but he's young enough to take the time to watch and allow his ability and reputation to grow as the chances present themselves. We still need a bit more defensive back up but the defenders we have now Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs and Monreal form a strong defensive squad with each capable of doing a good job when called upon.

While we didn't inflict any damage in this game we didn't suffer any either. Aside that is, from a red card preventing Ramsey from participating in the second leg and an injury to Arteta the extent of which has still to be diagnosed. We've left ourselves with a job still to do in the return game but perhaps not a mountain to climb. If we can get the midfield/forward combination right that is.

Star Player

Mathieu Debuchy

Date:Wednesday August 20 2014
Time: 12:35AM

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The commentators on this side of the Atlantic made a big deal about the poor quality of the pitch and rightly so. On the match itself I thought it was very entertaining; I also do share the main thrust of the piece especially the disjointed midfield and team-play. Something tells me though that part of the problem can be traced to the truncated preseason preparation, and this part will 'fix' itself as the players work themselves into shape.
20/08/2014 02:16:00
till they get to shape u guys will lose point and when the worldcup stars r back it will be the same for atleast few weeks u guys will have to battle or lose the top spot ... this sanogo kid is too much talk n less game ... u should get a striker ... wenger is awesome seriously lol
20/08/2014 04:37:00
"I wish Wenger would go out and buy a big goalkeeper, a strong centre back, a big midfielder and a decent striker and go for it.' - Jamie Carragher
20/08/2014 06:16:00
if we put aside the club rivalry, i guess carragher was right apart from the goalkeeper. wenger admitted that we are still short of a centre back & everyone else was yearning for a good defensive midfielder and a decent striker for over 2 seasons
20/08/2014 06:22:00
Carragher's wish list is pretty much the standard pick for every side. Everyone always wants another decent striker. We're short in numbers defensively but, with Chambers impressing as he has done so far, not in quality. There's room for a Xabi Alonso type sitting midfielder, which may have been what Kallstrom was seen as, but that's a rare bird to find. We've plenty of permutations of forwards and midfielders to play with but we'd have hoped to have resolved those before the season got underway.
20/08/2014 06:54:00
wenger just spouts words out n u guys hold onto it ... from a neutral perspective u guys lack a good pivot .... giroud is good but all alone which is bad since u guys have o play uefa wic will rob u of players n injuring them ... if wenger is smart as most think he should make sure ur team gets to top 8 or 4 of uefa until then u cant win epl or uefa since mancity n chelsea r already pushing for top spotsin both competitions ... dont say u got no money to buy these players lol u got loads of it just saved somewhere ....
20/08/2014 07:59:00
It seems Wenger isn't alone in just spouting words then Gary. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make but even being smart doesn't make sure you reach the final 8 or 4 in a knockout competition. As for spending money we've done rather a lot of that for the last 4 years now. It'll pay off eventually if others have their financial wings clipped a little by new regulations.
20/08/2014 08:15:00
in an ideal world, we could just sign a cd as hinted by wenger, develop chambers as a dm and hope for campbell to step up as our main striker. i always think it's good for a dm to have some cd experience. vieira started as a cd and eventually grown into a complete defensive midfielder
20/08/2014 08:41:00
gary777, I find it hard to understand your point in all that babble and mumbo jumbo; but I am guessing you mean well, so fair play to you.
20/08/2014 09:35:00
The Ataturk pitch was not in good condition, but this affects both teams and we cannot assume that the Turkish side would not be happy to play in the pristine conditions the Emirates stadium would provide. There is a need to get our boys up to speed on the fitness front, seeing as we have had 3 weeks and some competitive games to do so. It is rather curious that all of the German world cup winners have featured for their respective clubs, in friendlies and competitively (bar Khedira), except ours. Why do we have to pamper them so? How much WC footie did Poldi get that he couldn't cut short his holidays as Jack did, for instance? I think, except for Ozil, neither Poldi nor Mertesacker should be taking the full extended vacation. It smirks of complacency and suggests they expect to get their places as soon as they are back. That shouldn't be the case. Calum Chambers should play till Per earns the right to replace him; same with Ozil. They shouldn't walk right back into the side or we would be sending a wrong signal.
20/08/2014 09:47:00
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