Arsenal have already booked their place in the next round and Manager Arsene Wenger is set to make wholesale changes to his squad in hopes of allowing players some extended time to rest and others to get healthy.
The Gunners trip to Istanbul, Turkey to face Galatasaray on Tuesday December 8, 2014, will be far from a must win, but a strong victory and an Borussia Dortmund loss could see the visiting side move into first place of the group.
Galatasaray will look to secure a victory as a means of saving face after a horrid display in Europe’s elite competition. Having seen Arsenal booed on their way home to London following a loss at the Britannia Stadium to Stoke City and the Turkish hosts will hope to take advantage of the Gunners while they are low on confidence.
Hamza Hamzaoglu claimed that his side would press and fight as always because they are Galatasaray but admitted that he and the players must be sure to see the big picture:
“We'll try to stop our opponents, but we'll also try to play. We know our opponents are Arsenal, but we are Galatasaray and we'll fight regardless. It's a plus not having any pressure tomorrow. Our pressure comes from a desire to win. We created this pressure ourselves and it will be beneficial. I would like to thank our fans for their support. I hope this will be reflected positively in our football.
As we have done in previous games, we'll try to press Arsenal up front and not let them leave their half easily. Here our opponents' game plan will be decisive too. Football is not only about attacking – from time to time you may need to defend. Arsenal are a good team. If they react to our pressing we'll try to be strong in defence and hit them with counterattacks. We could win or lose. We set our targets and try to see the bigger picture.”
Arsenal’s Wenger admitted to bringing a mixed bag of players from youngsters to primary first team players as he looks to allow some of his more important players a period of rest with the congested December and January fixture lists in full swing:
“I have brought a squad mixed with regulars and six young players. Who knows what result we will get but we will not play under huge stress because we are already guaranteed to be in the knockout stage.
The reason I have not brought Alexis Sánchez and Santi Cazorla is because I just wanted them to rest a bit because they have played a lot of matches up to now.”
Arsenal are much in need of a boost of confidence and a victory in Turkey could be just what they need to get their minds back in the right place.
Galatasaray XI: Muslera: Camdal, Kaya, Chedjou, Telles; Kurtulus, Melo, Altintop; Sneijder; Bulut, Yilmaz.
Arsenal XI: Szczesny: Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Bellerin; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Ramsey; Campbell, Sanogo, Podolski.
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