World Football

Arsenal vs. Besiktas: Post-Match Reaction from Arsene Wenger and Slaven Bilic

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger gives instructions from the sidelines during their English Premier League soccer match against Crystal Palace, at Emirates Stadium, in London, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran)
Bogdan Maran/Associated Press
Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2014

Arsenal had to battle until the final whistle to overcome a strong Besiktas squad, but a goal from Alexis Sanchez just before the end of the first half proved to be the difference between both teams, as the Gunners advanced to the Champions League group stage with a 1-0 win.   

The Gunners finished the match with 10 players, after Mathieu Debuchy was sent of inside the final 20 minutes for a second bookable offence. The Turks had two penalty shouts and came close to scoring late through Demba Ba, but on the night the hosts were deserving of the win.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Sanchez took advantage of some beautiful play between Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil, scoring his first goal in an Arsenal shirt.

Wilshere played a class match for the Gunners, with the only blemish the contact that gave the Turks their second penalty claim. After the match, he conceded he did make contact, per the Independent's Chris Wheatley:

Arsenal had plenty of chances to put Besiktas away before Debuchy's red card, however, and over the two fixtures, the right club certainly advanced to the Champions League's group stage.

Arsene Wenger expressed pride in his players for keeping a clean sheet over two difficult matches against a very strong team:

Form is always a factor this early in the season, and the French caretaker saw some of his players struggle with the pace late in the tie:

Wenger also told Sky Sports (h/t to ESPN FC) striker Olivier Giroud will be out until December or January:

As shared by The Guardian's Daniel Taylor, that doesn't mean Arsenal will shift their focus to the transfer market:

Overall, Wenger was satisfied with his team's performance, although he rued the missed chances that could have ended the contest far sooner:

He also disagreed with the official's decision to give Debuchy his second yellow card:

Wenger ended his interview by complimenting Besiktas, who gave the Gunners everything they had over 180 minutes:

Slaven Bilic was widely praised on social media for his tactical approach, only conceding once against a powerful Arsenal attack. While his team came close to upsetting the Premier League team, just the fact they kept things this close was a victory in itself.

When asked about the penalty decisions on the night, he kept things short, per The Associated Press' Mattias Karen:

He was applauded for the response on Twitter, with many wondering how his opponent on the night would have reacted to the same question had the situation been different.

As shared by Bleacher Report's James McNicholas, he was humble in defeat, congratulating the Gunners on qualification:

Urheilusanomat's European correspondent Eero Laurila shared this final quote from the manager, where he stated he wants to make waves with his club in the Europa League:

Arsenal have been a fixture in the Champions League for more than a decade now, and while their double-header with Besiktas certainly wasn't easy, the Gunners will now reap the financial benefits of top-level international football.

Other top clubs will want to avoid Arsenal at all cost as this young and exciting team is only going to get better over time.

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