He who dares wins, Rodney! That should be the policy of Arsenal’s very own Del boy Trotter tonight, when the Gunners play the first of two legs in the knockout play-off stage of the Champions League tonight. And there are a number of reasons why I think we should be bold and adventurous.
I am not saying that Arsene Wenger should tell the players to throw caution to the wind, but I do believe that a forward thinking approach is the best way for the Gunners to go in Istanbul tonight. It worked at the same stage last season against Fenerbahce, who did not know what had hit them. That was then a formality at the Emirates after we had won 2-0 away and we could do with a similar result tonight, with a tough away trip to Everton to think about this weekend.
Also, one of the hardest things about going to clubs like Besiktas is the passionate and vocal, if not downright intimidating, atmosphere at the stadiums. There usual stadium has been closed for rebuilding, so the game will be at the Olympic stadium, which holds an extra 40,000 fans. It remains to be seen whether this will make the atmosphere better or worse for Arsenal, but there is no doubt that getting off to a good start will make it easier.
If we just try to defend and Besiktas push forwards, the home crowd will build up a wall of noise, but if we hit them hard and perhaps get an early goal, one of their major weapons will have been nullified. Plus, our main talents lie in the creative and attacking phases of the game, so we should play to our strengths, especially with a weakened squad. Come On You Gunners! Go for it!