Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0

Arsene Wenger left Istanbul with the knowledge that his side will have to count on their strong home form if the Gunners are to progress for a 17th consecutive Champions League group stage appearance. Against Besiktas, in the first leg of their Champions League play off tie was categorised by a match of full intensity, but little in the way of clear cut chances on a very poor playing surface. A clean sheet will be welcome for Wenger, but the red carding of Aaron Ramsey will not be, and especially given both yellow cards were for soft mishaps from the Welshman.

“We always want to win but look, Besiktas could have won the game, and we could have won the game as well. Maybe a draw is a fair result because both teams had chances to win the game. We know Besiktas are a good team. We know the game will be certainly tight again, but we play at home. The task is clear for us, we want to win the game,” said Wenger.

Former Chelsea striker Demba BA almost caught out the Gunners, with only 3 seconds on the clock. His dipping shot from the return pass at kick off alerted Wojciech Szczesny, who managed to adjusted his footing to palm the ball onto his bar and then collect safely.

Played in a cauldron of contestant noise, Arsenal we’re further tested but held firm, until another scare when Calum Chambers slipped. Ba rounded the Arsenal defender and with only Szczesny in his sights, sent his shot wide. Half chances fell to Olivier Giroud and Ramsey, but the match rustiness of Wenger’s side would deny Arsenal a vital away goal despite Alexis Sanchez looking sharper.

Ba was then gifted another opening, but this time Szczesny saved well. Jack Wilshere saw a curled effort see the Gunners go close, but neither side was able to take the advantage going into the second leg at the Emirates stadium next Wednesday.

Deep into the game and reduced to ten men at that stage, substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, weaved his way through the Besiktas rearguard, only to see his shot palmed onto the post by keeper Tolga Zengin.

Wenger was left to reflect on a difficult game for his side and an unfortunate sending off for Ramsey.

” Yes, it was a difficult match played at a high pace. Besiktas played with 100 per cent pace and did fought for every single ball. We needed a great level of concentration. We are still a bit short physically with some situations, but overall it was a game played for 90 minutes at great pace.

” I think neither the first or the second yellow card was deserved. When you see some of the fouls made tonight and we go home with Ramsey red carded, it’s a bit unbelievable.”