As I’m sure you are aware Arsenal have been drawn against Turkish side Fenerbahce in our Champions League challenge to get through the playoff rounds, and many fear that we have got the toughest draw going. Out of the teams available to draw I think we certainly did get one of the possible two hardest in Fenerbahce or PSV. However, although we say they are the toughest draws, we should emphasis on that Arsenal SHOULD be good enough to beat any team in that play-off round and if we aren’t then quite simply we aren’t good enough to be there and we don’t deserve champions league football. For me it’s as simple as that, however the game still won’t be easy, and one player that seems to be a tad concerned is Arsenal and Germany defender Per Mertesacker.
Mertesacker said: “We hope that [playing] the first game away is a bit of an advantage for us. We have to concentrate on that game. [Playing] away in Istanbul is always special, the fans are passionate and we have to cope with that and realise that we have a chance to qualify for the Champions League. We did a lot in the last season, especially in the last 10 games to get the chance to get [in] the qualifiers. We have to focus on that.”
Mertesacker’s description of the Turkish fans being passionate may be slightly wrong for the opinion of the fans but aside from that he certainly does recognise the test that lies ahead. Playing in such different conditions is never easy and it probably won’t be the most comfortable game you ever see Arsenal play, but as mentioned several times we need to focus on making sure we get the job done. We are good enough; it’s just a case of not slipping up in Turkey because it will cause great difficulty on return to the Emirates.
I’m quietly confident of progression but as always with Arsenal, you never know what’s just around the corner.