Arsenal face anxious Giroud wait

first_img Giroud may be facing an extended spell on the sidelines after sustaining the damage in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Everton, just seconds after heading the equaliser. The 27-year-old Frenchman has undergone two scans and is due to see a specialist on Wednesday who will provide a time frame for his rehabilitation. Press Association Sanchez was substituted at half-time at Goodison Park following an ineffective 45 minutes as the focal point of Arsenal’s attack. Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell are also options, although it is Sanogo, who missed out against Everton because of a hamstring injury, who is most likely to start. Wenger, who ruled out Podolski leaving in the transfer window, is confident he has the options to cover for Giroud’s absence in the second leg of the qualifier at the Emirates Stadium. “Yes of course, why should I not have that confidence?” Wenger said. “Nobody can image that when one player is missing, no matter how big the player is, the team can’t win a game any more.” The first leg finished in a goalless draw in Istanbul and while Arsenal are heavy favourites to defeat the Turkish club, Wenger knows anything is possible. “For us the Champions League is very important. We want to play at the top level, at international level,” Wenger said. “It’s a very important game, more on the sporting side than the financial side. “Nothing is unthinkable – it (not qualifying for the group stage) has happened to 99 per cent of all the big clubs in Europe. “But we want to be in there and we think we have the potential to do it. The task is clear and we know we can do it. So let’s do it. “Experience plays a big part. We have big experience of playing in the Champions League and in highly pressurised games. We can use that. “But what’s more important is putting in a good, strong performance. “I’m confident this group is mentally prepared and ready for the fight.” Slaven Bilic is backing his Besiktas team to flourish despite his touchline ban as he plots a famous victory over Arsenal. Bilic will be missing from the Turks’ dugout for the Champions League second-leg qualifier after being sent to the stands for arguing with referee Milorad Mazic in Istanbul. “It’s not ideal of course. I regret it and would love to be down there with the boys,” the Besiktas boss said. “But I don’t see a huge problem in it. We have prepared our gameplan and I have a big belief in my assistants and they’ll do the job there.” Arsenal are favourites to secure a 17th successive campaign in the group stage of the Champions League but Bilic insists Besiktas have been flooded with self-belief after holding the Gunners to a stalemate at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium. “We know it will be a massive game for us and after Istanbul it became big for them. A goalless draw was a positive result,” Bilic said. “We showed in our performance in the first leg that we’re capable of giving them a game. “We played well and weren’t totally happy with the result. We deserved to win. “But still the result is very positive and we’re full of hope for the second leg, although we know we’re playing one of the biggest clubs in the world on their home soil. “But we are full of confidence, especially after the first game. We have a dream and we’ll do everything to fulfil it. “Before the game maybe our players doubted a little bit because they haven’t played so much against the big guns, but after the game we’re very confident. “We have a good team that is full of energy and playing for each other and trying to play good football. “Of course we are not the favourites, they are the favourites. They are Arsenal, but we hope to show we also are a good side. “I truly believe we have a chance against Arsenal and can give them a good game.” Manager Arsene Wenger refused to speculate on the extent of the damage amid reports that Giroud has broken a bone and could be out for two to three months. “Olivier will not play against Besiktas. He will see a specialist and afterwards we will make an announcement as to how long he’ll be out,” Wenger said. “It can be (long term), we’ll see. I don’t know (if it’s broken). It’s sad for us, but for the moment we are focused on the game.” The loss of Giroud has robbed Arsenal of their first-choice striker as they seek to secure a 17th successive season in the group stage of the Champions League. Wenger may now be forced into the transfer market in search of a replacement if the Gunners’ worst fears are realised and Giroud faces an extended spell on the sidelines. When asked if his absence would impact on transfers, Wenger replied: “I don’t know. We are 24 hours from a big game and our focus is more on that than the transfer window. “I’ve learnt one thing in our job – you say nothing categorically.” Summer signing Alexis Sanchez could operate as the lone striker against Besiktas, although doubts have been raised over his ability to perform the role. Arsenal are waiting to discover the severity of Olivier Giroud’s foot injury but are already resigned to being without him for their Champions League qualifier against Besiktas on Wednesday night.last_img

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