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Champions League play-off preview: Fenerbahce vs Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger has seen his side battle in a Champions League third round qualification match five times since they last won the Premier League in the 2003/2004 season.

No matter what people say about Arsene Wenger, they can’t deny that the man has an immaculate record in guiding his side into the group stages of the Champions League.

If he passes this test this will be his 16th successive season in the competition.

Go back two years ago when Arsenal were drawn against Udinese in this stage of qualification, which was at a time when Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas were edging towards their exits from the Emirates.

Even with all that going on in the background Wenger’s side managed to pull through and progress.

He has been criticised heavily after his side’s opening day home defeat to Aston Villa, while also coming under scrutiny for missing out on potential transfer targets, such as Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez.

Arsenal fans have watched their biggest rivals Tottenham strengthen their squad hugely, and have seen how Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have all recorded opening day wins.

Question marks have to be raised about a potential regression if they don’t sign anyone. At the minute, though, they have to focus on this game in Turkey tonight.

The Gunners will firstly have to overcome the task of silencing the hostile crowd; they have proven it’s possible having beaten Fenerbahce 5-2 at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in 2008.

Arsenal are in a pickle injury-wise as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the latest to join an ever-growing injury list, which already hosts Abou Diaby, captain Thomas Vermaelen and vice-captain Mikel Arteta.

Turkish football is on a rise in Europe at the moment, seeing Galatasaray reach the Champions League quarter-finals last season, and hosts tonight Fenerbahce reach the semi-finals of the Europa League.

But it's been 45 years since a Turkish side beat an English team in a two legged fixture - that side was Manchester City.

Fenerbahce, though, have their own problems off the pitch as well. Their appeal against a two-year UEFA ban for match fixing goes before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) today.

The verdict is expected next Wednesday – the day after the second leg at The Emirates – if their appeal is rejected the Turkish side will see themselves rejected from all European competitions this season.

Fenerbahce have already beaten Salzburg, so if they were to be replaced then Salzburg may feel they deserve another shot.

This is a must-win tie for Wenger if he wants to keep the faith of the fans riding on him and get the doubters off his back.

And a must-win tie if he wants to keep potential signings interested in arriving at the Emirates before the transfer window closes on September 2.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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