Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Galatasaray, Champions League Group Matchday 2

Emirates Stadium, London
Wednesday, October 1
2:45 p.m. EDT, 19:45 BST
  • Match Officials from Italy
    • Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
    • Assistants: Gianluca Cariolato and Alessandro Giallatini
    • 4th Official: Alessandro Costanzo
    • Additional Assistants: Antonio Damato and Paolo Valeri
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 1 draw (1 Galatasaray win on penalties)
  • Arsenal's European Form: L-L-D // D-W-L
  • Galatasaray's European Form: L-L-W-D-L // D
  • Weather: Light Rain Clearing, 18 C / 65 F
Arsene Wenger is celebrating 18 years in charge at
Arsenal by destroying the space-time continuum.
I've said this plenty of times this season: Arsenal have more individual quality in this club than they have had in years. So, what the fuck is going wrong? The Gunners have scratched and clawed their way to an unbeaten start in the league, though they could live to rue blown leads against Leicester and Manchester City, as well as their struggle to take a point from Spurs at the weekend. I've been pretty strict with myself to avoid writing things to wind up rivals in recent years, but Tottenham were as pedestrian as I've seen them in years on Saturday. That Arsenal could not come out of that game, at home, with all three points, speaks to something amiss.

There's no rest for the weary/injured, however; an international break looms in the distance, but Arsenal have a must-win Champions League tie against Galatasaray at the Emirates tonight, followed by a dreaded trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

I mentioned in the preview for Matchday 1 against Dortmund that 13 points guarantees progression from the group stage; that's four wins and a draw. Arsenal already have one loss on the books, though that came in arguably the most difficult fixture of the six. But, as I said in that preview a few weeks ago, you have to win your home games in Europe. 10 points is basically a bare minimum to qualify without significant help and only 15 points remain on the table for the taking.

If Arsenal come out of this game without three points, I'd start clearing your Thursday schedules in the spring.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Ramsey (hamstring,) Arteta (calf,) Monreal (back,) Debuchy (ankle,) Sanogo (hamstring,) Giroud (ankle,) Gnabry (knee,) Walcott (knee)
Doubts: Wilshere (ankle)

Good news: Jack Wilshere trained this week.
Bad news: He's making a weird face here.
Arsenal have an absurd nine injuries right now (and that's not including the not-match-fit Abou Diaby,) so the best way to really look at these is to organize them by time frame:
  • Likely available, might start Sunday: Jack Wilshere, who trained this week despite a bad twist of the ankle. I'd keep him on the bench to start tonight.
  • Right after the international break (2 weeks from now): Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry will return to full training during the Interlull, after long injury spells. Nacho Monreal and Yaya Sanogo are likely to return from their much shorter absences after the break.
  • Mid-October (3 weeks from now): Mikel Arteta should be back from the calf strain he picked up at the weekend.
  • Late October (4-5 weeks from now): This is around when I would, in a best case scenario, expect to see Aaron Ramsey back in the starting XI.
  • December (3 months from now): Mathieu Debuchy should be back in full training, fingers crossed, around the holiday period.
  • In the New Year: Olivier Giroud is the player with the longest expected time out ahead of him.
As for tonight's lineup, well, there really aren't many options, are there? Arsenal need three points from this game; they can't take any risks with rotation. I would argue that they should go for the win tonight and then try to park the bus on Sunday at the Bridge. Then again, parking the bus isn't part of Arsene Wenger's vocabulary; I'll worry about that more in Friday's preview.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Chambers, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Alexis, Welbeck.

Galatasaray Squad News

Out: None

Galatasaray's players wore suits on the flight.
This was news.
What? Nobody is unavailable? How do teams do this?

Yes, Galatasaray are expected to have a fully fit squad going into tonight's match. As a result, I would not expect them to make any changes to the XI that started against Anderlecht on Matchday 1.

Between the sticks will be Uruguayan international Fernando Muslera; the back four is comprised of Brazilian Alex Telles, the Cameroonian Aurelien Chedjou and Turks Veysel Sari and Semih Kaya.

The midfield is a strength, with Wesley Sneijder in an attacking role and Felipe Melo in a defensive role. Swiss international Blerim Dzemaili signed from Napoli on transfer deadline day to play one of the wide midfield roles, while captain Selcuk Inan plays the other side. Galatasaray start with two forwards, in Burak Yılmaz and Goran Pandev, who also signed on deadline day from Napoli. They really benefited from Napoli's play-off loss, didn't they?

Predicted XI: Muslera, Sari, Kaya, Chedjou, Telles, Felipe Melo, Dzemaili, Inan, Sneijder, Pandev, Burak.

European Form

Galatasaray needed a late goal to earn a point on
Matchday 1.
Arsenal's Matchday 1 loss to Borussia Dortmund means that the Gunners have now won just one of their last six European matches, the second leg play-off win over Besiktas. Their home record remains strong in Europe, however, provided the opponent isn't German or English. Arsenal's last home loss in Europe to a non-German or English opponent was in 2003 against Inter Milan. In that span, Arsenal have lost six times at home in European competition since then, to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Schalke, Dortmund, and Bayern Munich twice.

Galatasaray opened this year's group stage with a 1-1 draw at home to Anderlecht; Dennis Praet's opener was canceled out by an injury time equalizer from Burak Yılmaz. In Europe last year, Galatasaray finished second in their Champions League group that also included Real Madrid, Juventus, and Copenhagen. They were drawn against Chelsea in the Round of 16, where they lost 3-1 on aggregate, drawing 1-1 in Istanbul before losing 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Match Facts

Arsenal and Galatasaray have met only once in a competitive fixture before, the infamous 2000 UEFA Cup Final. I'll keep my recap of those events to what happened on the pitch, rather than off it. A dark day in Arsenal history, the match itself was drawn 0-0, with the Turkish side winning 4-1 on penalties. Perhaps the less said, the better. In 2013, the sides met in the non-competitive Emirates Cup, with Galatasaray coming from 1-0 down to win 2-1.

All-time, Arsenal have a record of five wins, four draws, and no losses (aside from that penalty shootout) against Turkish competition, including one win and one draw this year against Besiktas in the qualifying play-off. In London, Arsenal have won three and drawn one against Turkish sides; the one draw came against Fenerbache in the 2008 group stage. Arsenal's 5-2 win over Fenerbahce in Istanbul that year marks the only time Arsenal have conceded a goal against a Turkish side.

Galatasaray have a record of just three wins in 19 all-time competitive fixtures against English opposition; they have lost eight and drawn eight. None of those wins came on English soil, where they have a record of three draws and six losses. The three draws came at Old Trafford in 1993, Elland Road in 2000 (with Galatasaray advancing to the aforementioned UEFA Cup Final on away goals,) and Anfield in 2002.

The Referee

"Hey, look over there!"
The match officials are from Italy; the referee is Gianluca Rocchi. Arsenal have seen Rocchi twice before: first, he was the referee for Arsenal's come-from-ahead 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 1 in 2011. Second, he was in charge of Arsenal's first leg 3-0 win over Fenerbahce in Istanbul in last year's qualifying play-off. He has worked one Galatasaray match, a 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the 2010 Europa League Round of 32 second leg, which gave Atletico a 3-2 aggregate win; Atletico went on to win the competition over Fulham (remember that? When Fulham went to that final...)

English sides have a record of four wins, two draws, and one loss in Champions League matches where Rocchi was in the middle; the one loss was Manchester United's 2-0 loss to Olympiacos in the first leg of the Round of 16 last year, in which Joel Campbell was on target for the Greeks. Turkish sides have a record of two losses from two matches in the Champions League with Rocchi as referee: the aforementioned 3-0 Arsenal win in Istanbul and a 1-0 for Bursaspor at Old Trafford in 2010.

Around Europe
  • Tuesday: CSKA Moscow 0 - 1 Bayern Munich
  • Tuesday: Manchester City 1 - 1 Roma
  • Tuesday: Paris St. Germain 3 - 2 Barcelona
  • Tuesday: APOEL Nicosia 1 - 1 Ajax
  • Tuesday: Sporting Clube de Portugal 0 - 1 Chelsea
  • Tuesday: Schalke 04 1 - 1 Maribor
  • Tuesday: Shakhtar Donetsk 2 - 2 Porto
  • Tuesday: BATE Borisov 2 - 1 Athletic Bilbao
  • Wednesday: Malmo v. Olympiacos; Swedbank Stadion, Malmo
  • Wednesday: Atletico Madrid v. Juventus; Vicente Calderon Stadium, Madrid
  • Wednesday: Basel v. Liverpool; St. Jakob-Park, Basel
  • Wednesday: Ludogorets Razgrad v. Real Madrid; Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia
  • Wednesday: Zenit St. Petersburg v. Monaco; Petrovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg
  • Wednesday: Bayer Leverkusen v. Benfica; BayArena, Leverkusen
  • Wednesday: Anderlecht v. Borussia Dortmund; Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Anderlecht