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Arsenal vs. Besiktas: Champions League Play Off Preview and TV

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When the season starts it doesn't mess around.

I mean, ideally you want players that are taller than the corner flag
I mean, ideally you want players that are taller than the corner flag
Clive Mason

Arsenal v. Besiktas
UEFA Champions League Play Off
Tuesday, August 19, 11.45 PT/2.45 ET/7.45 BT/9.45 EET
Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
TV: Fox Sports 1 (US), Fox Sports Go online; for worldwide listings go to

So here we are, fresh off an unconvincing yet satisfying win at the weekend over Crystal Palace, having to get ready for a Champions League play off game that nobody wanted. Arsenal do have a good record in these things - since they started making the Champions League an annual occurrence in 1847, they've had to go the play off route 164 times, and they've won each and every...wait, hang on, my director of statistics says there may be a problem with those numbers.

Since Arsenal's run of 17 consecutive years in the Champions League started, they have had to enter the group stages via a play off round seven times. They've obviously never lost one, and despite all the handwringing about Those Crazy Turkish Fans and their Crazy Atmosphere, I don't expect Arsenal will lose this one either; that said, if Arsenal don't play better and pass better and remember they're Arsenal better than they did on Saturday, this could be a trickier tie than Wenger & Co. would like it to be.

The worry for Arsenal tomorrow will of course be in defense - Koscielny traveled, but he's very much a last minute decision with an Achilles ouchie, so Per "I'M NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TODAY" Mertesacker traveled down to Turkey as well, in case Kos can't go. EDIT: Way to ruin a perfectly good Clerks reference, Arsenal:
Kieran Gibbs also faces a late fitness test, but otherwise Arsenal have a full squad to choose from, and the most major change I would expect is to see Giroud start over Sanogo.

Besiktas are still in preseason, so it's hard to tell how they'll perform.  They have some names non-Turkish league fans will recognize - Premier League fans will know Demba Ba, and USMNT fans will see the maybe-soon-to-be-departed-for-Chicago Jermaine Jones on the team sheet, and manager Slaven Bilic had decent spells at West Ham and Everton. As much as this may be a copout in an article titled "Match Preview", I have almost complete ignorance of Turkish football, so I would invite those of you who follow the Turkish game to please help me fill in the Besiktas blanks in the comments.

Szcz; Monreal, (Kos/Per), Chambers, Debuchy; Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta; Cazorla, Sanchez, Giroud