Besiktas vs. Arsenal: Winners and Losers from Champions League Game
Both Besiktas and Arsenal will have everything to play for next week at the Emirates Stadium.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in the first leg of this UEFA Champions League play-off tie, and the Gunners completed the contest in Istanbul with just 10 men following the ejection of Aaron Ramsey.
There is no doubt Besiktas manager Slaven Bilic and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will have taken one or two lessons from the match. Over the next few slides, we’ll highlight just a few things that stood out in Istanbul.
Following are the winners and losers from Tuesday’s encounter.
Winner: Ismail Koybasi, Who Was the Best Full-Back on the Pitch
While Ramon Motta struggled opposite Alexis Sanchez, Ismail Koybasi handled the Santi Cazorla threat nicely.
The 25-year-old generally controlled the right-hand side of the pitch for Besiktas and completed three tackles over the 90 minutes, per WhoScored.com.
Koybasi also proved a handful for Nacho Monreal going forward and touched the ball an impressive 88 times, completing 87 percent of his passes.
Loser: Aaron Ramsey, Who Got Himself Ejected
Say what you will about referee Milorad Mazic, but he was mostly consistent in difficult circumstances.
One thing the Serbian had a particular eye for in Istanbul was shirt-pulling, and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey went into the book for the offense in the 54th minute.
He didn’t learn his lesson.
Just 26 minutes later, the Welshman was off after a tug on Oguzhan Ozyakup and will also miss the return match at the Emirates Stadium as a result of his indiscipline.
Winner: Oguzhan Ozyakup, Who Excelled Against His Former Club
A former Arsenal schoolboy and eventual substitute against Manchester United in the Champions League, Oguzhan Ozyakup was sold to Besiktas for €500,000 by the Gunners in 2012.
On Tuesday, the former FA Youth Cup winner played like he had something to prove against his former side, moving about the pitch with tremendous energy and creating quality scoring opportunities for his team-mates.
In the 80th minute, he waltzed past Aaron Ramsey, drawing a second yellow card out of the Arsenal midfielder.
Winner: Alexis Sanchez, Who Was His Side’s Best Attacker
The decision to withdraw Alexis Sanchez in the 73rd minute in Istanbul had more to do with the weekend’s Premier League match against Everton than anything else.
Already the Chile international has become a key individual for Arsenal. On Tuesday, he was his side’s most dangerous attacking player.
If not for an exposition of poor finishing from Olivier Giroud, Sanchez might have set up the opening goal in the early moments at Ataturk Stadium. Early in the second half, he also made an important defensive contribution when he tracked back to dispossess Oguzhan Ozyakup.
Loser: Finishing, Which Let Both Sides Down in Istanbul
From the opening seconds, when Demba Ba spotted Wojciech Szczesny off his line and nearly beat the Arsenal goalkeeper from distance, it just didn’t seem as though either side would have the finishing necessary to claim the three points in Istanbul.
Olcay Sahan also came close to breaking the deadlock for Besiktas, and on at least two other occasions Ba seemed to find himself in good space for a shot, only to either miss the target or be denied by Szczesny.
On the other side of the ball, it was Giroud who struggled, although second-half substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also hit the upright for the Gunners after replacing Alexis Sanchez.
Winner: Calum Chambers, Who Didn’t Look at All out of His Depth
Calum Chambers looked comfortable in both the Arsenal defense and his Champions League debut on Tuesday.
For much of Tuesday’s match, the 19-year-old was tasked with closing down Demba Ba, which he mostly succeeded in doing. He also impressed late in the first half when he tied up Oguzhan Ozyakup in the goalmouth without committing a foul following Mustafa Pektemek’s cross from the right.
Granted, it was just one match, but early returns on Chambers are encouraging.
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