Gunners leave Turkey in precarious position
Arsenal find themselves in something of a precarious position after their 0-0 draw with Besiktas in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
An away goal is always welcome and the Turkish side are the only ones who can take advantage of that rather anachronistic rule when they visit London next week.
The Gunners also have to do it without Aaron Ramsey, who was sent off for two yellow cards. If the first was a touch unfortunate with the Welshman also getting tugged by his opponent, the second was very soft indeed. Perhaps he could have worked the situation better, but Besiktas player Oguzhan Ozyakup threw himself to the ground with little or no contact and the referee bought it. Regardless of the merits of the red card, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger won't be able to call upon the man who looks most likely to make a decisive impact for his team right now.
For some of the Arsenal players, it looks as if the summer hangover is still something they're struggling to come to terms with. Olivier Giroud looks a long way from being at his sharpest; Santi Cazorla followed up his poor display against Crystal Palace with another one on Tuesday; Alexis Sanchez really is going to take some time to settle, and overall they look like a team that is far from finding the kind of fluidity that their football needs in order to be effective.
What they need is an injection of quality, and perhaps that will come at the weekend when the manager will consider the German trio of Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker. Indeed, if we talk about Sanchez needing time to settle, maybe having a player like Ozil, who can spot those darting runs, might just speed up that process. There's no reason Podolski should be fatigued, either -- although he travelled to Brazil and went the distance with his teammates, he didn't play much and should be as ready as anyone else.
There's a worry, too, over Mikel Arteta, who was taken off with what looked like a twisted ankle. The Spaniard's absence would be a blow ahead of his return to Goodison Park. He remains an important and influential part of the manager's plans.
Yet for all the worries, there were positives. Calum Chambers again played well in the centre of the defence, Nacho Monreal deputised well for Kieran Gibbs at left back and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might have won it for the men in red late on. His shot cannoned back off the post with just minutes to go, and on such fine margins are games won, lost and, obviously, drawn.
What will give Arsenal confidence is their record in these Champions League games over the past few years. At home in their qualifying legs they've generally won well and conceded few goals. They'll have to repeat that trick next Wednesday, but hopefully by then they'll have found a modicum of form starting with a good result at Everton on Saturday.