Having drawn 0-0 away to Besiktas last Tuesday, Arsenal are in the unusual position of being under a bit of pressure early on in the season.
The draw in Istanbul was the first time they had failed to win a qualification match in 12 attempts – and they have to win tonight to advance to the Champions League proper.
But there’s a problem. With Olivier Giroud ruled out for three months not only have fans been deprived at gazing at big Oli’s beautiful features – but it also leaves the Gunners’ attack as toothless as Shane MacGowan.
The Gunners will also be without Aaron Ramsey, whose gentle caress of Besiktas’ Oguzhan Ozyakup’s stomach was enough to send the Turkish player hurtling to the ground and earn Ramsey a second yellow card – and his marching orders.
Reasons to be fearful …
Considering that Ramsey and Giroud have scored five of Arsenal’s seven goals this season (including the Community Shield), Arsene Wenger has reason to be fearful.
His anxiety is made only worse when he looks around and sees Yaya Sanogo sitting on the ground, having displayed encouraging signs that he would be able to sit on a seat but ultimately missing the target.
Summer signing Alexis Sanchez could lead the attack and is 4/1 to open the scoring. He started as the main striker against Everton at the weekend but was whipped off at half time and replaced by Giroud.
Given that the Chilean is 5′ 7″ and looked about as comfortable up top as Kate Upton (below) in a training bra, his obvious talents may be more suited to a wider role.
Wenger might assign Sanogo to lead the line and the 21-year-old Frenchman is 11/2 to open the scoring but another option could be Lukas Podolski, – who many fans thought had played his last game for the club.
Ready to score …
The happy-go-lucky German may be granted a reprieve thanks to Giroud’s injury – even though Napoli and Juventus are reportedly interested – he could be a bit of value to score at anytime tonight at 9/5.
Financially, this is Arsenal’s most important game of the season although their European pedigree should carry them through. But it could be a long night in North London.