UEFA Champions League Preview: Fenerbahce v Arsenal
By Football News
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger goes into Wednesday's UEFA Champions League clash with Fenerbahce under unprecedented pressure.
The Frenchman has won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the London club since his arrival in 1996, but has seen his standing diminish over the course of eight trophyless years.
Recent failures in the transfer market, which have seen several high-profile targets missed and only 20-year-old forward Yaya Sanogo arrive, have also served to compound fans' frustrations.
The situation came to a head on Saturday as Arsenal suffered an embarrassing 3-1 opening-day defeat to an Aston Villa side who spent much of last season battling against relegation from the English top flight.
And so there is little doubt that Wenger needs a win when his team make the daunting trip to Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in the first leg of their play-off encounter against Fenerbahce.
Unlike their next opponents, the Turkish side have been busy in the market of late, bringing in the likes of Emmanuel Emenike, Michal Kadlec and Bruno Alves during the close-season period.
However, that did not prevent them from allowing a two-goal lead to slip in the final 13 minutes of their first 2013-14 league fixture against Konyaspor as they slumped to a 3-2 defeat.
Manager Ersun Yanal will at least be buoyed by the fact that the visitors face a number of injury worries as well as morale issues following their humbling by Villa.
Thomas Vermaelen (back), Mikel Arteta (hamstring), Nacho Monreal (back) and long-term absentee Abou Diaby (knee) all missed that fixture, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Bacary Sagna (neck) and Kieran Gibbs (head) picked up their injuries during the match.
By contrast, Fenerbahce could welcome back Gonul Gokhan following his recovery from surgery, though they will still be without Erten Ersu (knee).
The Super Lig outfit do know, however, that they could yet be thrown out of the Champions League even if they win their tie against Arsenal, as they await a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding accusations from UEFA of match-fixing.
The teams last met in the group stages of this competition in the 2008-09 season, and shared a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium after Arsenal had ran out 5-2 winners in Turkey.