Arsenal will be looking to qualify into the Champions League group stage for the fifteenth succesive time. Their last trip to Turkey was managed with ease, beating Fernebache quite comfortably. Besiktas should prove to be a tougher test after the Istanbul side made some shrewd summer signings and a change in team philosophy, Slaven Bilić’s team will be out to cause an upset.
The Senegalese striker was a long-term Arsenal target before he joined Chelsea in 2013. He suffered a troublesome time in London, failing to hold down a first team place to the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres. However, Ba has had a fantastic start to life in Turkey. On his home debut in Istanbul, he bagged a hat-trick against Feyenoord in the Champions League third qualifiying round.
At his best, Ba is a striker who will dominate defenders and control the match. He is a brilliant target man who is deceptively quick and a good finisher. A goal to knock Arsenal out of the Champions League would be the perfect finish to a triumvirate of wonderful Chelsea memories along with the late goal against PSG in the Champions League and the goal against Liverpool.
Özyakup should be a familiar name to Arsenal fans, the twenty-one-year-old was a member of the Arsenal academy, making a number of appearances for the reserve side. The Turkish international could never break into Arsenal’s first team, only making a few appearances in the League Cup.
The Turk is a central midfielder who works best playing as the number ten in the team. This is because his stamina is poor and he doesn’t track back enough meaning when he plays as a central midfielder he can leave his team exposed. Additionally, his defensive work is virtually non-existent, which means it is pointless asking him to sit deep.
Where he does thrive, though, is further forward. Özyakup is technically very talented and can spot a pass brilliantly. He is also brilliant at linking up with his team-mates, demonstrating that he is acutely aware of what pass to make depending on who he is passing to. It will be great for him to return to the Emirates but Arsenal need to make sure they watch him closely, otherwise they could find themselves in trouble.
Another former Premier League player, Kerim Frei left Fulham to join the Turkish side after failing to establish a first team place in England. Things didn’t seem to get better for the young midfielder. An injury hit 2013/14 season meant that he made a mere nine appearances in the Turkish Süper Lig. Although he appears to have put the injuries behind him with an impressive performance against Feyenoord in the previous round.
On his day he is an explosive player, capable of taking the ball past opponents with ease and finding the net from distance. The Besiktas faithful will be hoping the twenty-year-old has one of his days in order to stand any chance of qualifiying against Arsenal.