Arsenal will be without Kieran Gibbs and Yaya Sanogo for their Champions League qualifier against Besiktas. Gibbs will miss both legs of the play-off with a hamstring injury while Sanogo has not travelled to Turkey. Gibbs' omission could mean a possible recall for Per Mertesacker, who has been rested after helping Germany win the World Cup final, while manager Arsene Wenger also has the option of playing Laurent Koscielny, who returns from an Achilles problem. Former Chelsea striker Demba Ba could start for Besiktas after moving to the Turkish side earlier this summer. Ba scored a hat-trick in the second leg of the third-round qualifying phase to knock out Feyenoord 5-2 on aggregate. The Black Eagles could be without Atiba Hutchinson however, with the midfielder still suffering with a hamstring problem and rated only 50-50. (bbc)
Besiktas have won every single one of their last 12 home games in the qualifying phases of UEFA competitions - a record which began after a 1-1 draw with Hapoel Haifa in Champions League qualifying in 1999. Their aggregate score in those games has been 27-3. Arsenal have won all 12 of their previous UEFA Champions League play-off matches, knocking out GNK Dinamo Zagreb (2006/07), AC Sparta Praha (2007/08), FC Twente (2008/09), Celtic FC (2009/10), Udinese Calcio (2011/12) and Fenerbahçe SK (2013/14). Arsenal have never lost in 90 minutes against a Turkish side, conceding just twice in seven meetings: W4 D3 L0 (W2 D1 L0 at home, W2 D1 L0 in Istanbul). They did, however, lose the final of the 2000 UEFA Cup 4-1 on penalties against Galatasaray after a 0-0 draw after extra time. Demba Ba, who scored a hat-trick for Besiktas in his first start for the club in the third qualifying round, struck twice against Arsenal on 29 December 2012 in his last match for Newcastle United. The Magpies lost that match 7-3. (Eurosport)
Arsenal's penalty for failing to improve once more on their almost customary fourth-placed finish in the Barclay's Premier League has left them with a challenging obstacle to overcome in this early-season Champions League play-off with Besiktas. The winner of this two-legged affair will qualify for the group stages of Europe's premiere competition and the Gunners must vanquish an old foe if they are to do so. A familiar face in Demba Ba will likely start for Besiktas tonight and Arsenal know all about the Senegal striker. Ba has a good goal-scoring pedigree against Arsene Wenger's side and memorably netted a brace against them in December 2012. The ex-Newcastle and Chelsea star will be hoping to once more find himself in good form against the Gunners and comes into this clash off the back of a hat-trick in the second leg of his side's third round qualifying victory over Feyenoord. It's not the sort of drama Wenger would have wished for so early on in the season with this match representing the second of three games his side must play in the space of a week. Arsenal edged out Crystal Palace and were unimpressive at the weekend - needing a last-gasp Aaron Ramsey winner to save their hides - while an away clash with top four rivals Everton awaits on Saturday. They will need a significantly-improved display here than they mustered against Palace if they are to avoid crashing out of the Champions League at this ignominiously early phase, but can take solace from the fact they beat Turkish opposition at this stage of the competition a year ago, knocking out Fenerbahce. Besiktas meanwhile haven't yet started their league campaign and fell to a 2-1 pre-season defeat to Championship side Wigan Athletic in mid-July. Prediction: 0-2
Joseph is an accredited football journalist and has interviewed nearly all of the current 20 Barclay's Premier League managers. He is also a correspondent for Bleacher Report and has written for Caught Offside and Give Me Football.