Arsenal travels to Turkey on Wednesday night to face Fenerbahce in the qualifying play-off for this season's UEFA Champions League. With the London club desperate to enter the competition, manager Arsene Wenger will be ruing the draw, which pits his team against very strong Turkish opposition. With Fenerbahce's home ground notorious for its daunting atmosphere, Arsenal will have to be at their best to ensure progress in the group stages.
Fenerbahce's participation in European competition this season is under scrutiny. UEFA are contemplating penalising the club for its involvement in a domestic match-fixing scandal. The punishment would be banishment from European competition - the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. As of now, Fenerbahce are allowed to compete on a temporary basis, with a hearing scheduled for after the second leg of the Arsenal game. Should the Istanbul team beat Arsenal and then be banned from the competition, Wenger could be afforded an unlikely route back into it.
Wenger's early season injury list is considerably large. Their opening day Premier League loss to Aston Villa further reduced the list of players available for selection. Midfielder Mikel Arteta will be missing for over a month with a hamstring injury. Thomas Vermaelen (back) and Abou Diaby (knee) also pose as long term injury concerns. They were joined on the sidelines by winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who hurt his knee during the Villa game last weekend. Chamberlain will be out for approximately six weeks. Defenders Nacho Monreal (back), Kieran Gibbs (head) and Bacary Sagna (neck) are doubts for the game.
Fenerbahce manager Ersun Yanal will be without Erten Ersu after the player picked up a knee injury. He is the Turkish team's only injury concern. Unlike Arsene Wenger, Yanal has been active in the transfer market this summer. Fenerbahce have signed Emmanuel Emenike, Michal Kadlec and Bruno Alves in the off-season, added to the purchases of Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles last season. All three new signings are in contention to start.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is at 12:15 am IST (Thursday, 22 August) and live coverage is available on Ten Action.