Arsenal have been sent a stern warning about their Champions League prospects by Turkish side, Fenerbahce, that they are ready to turn up the pressure in their Champions League showdown tomorrow night.
Former Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles says the Turkish club will make it difficult for Arsenal after their nightmare start to the campaign.
The Gunners travel to Istanbul for the first leg with a patched-up squad, leaving the likes of Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal at home nursing injuries.
Meireles believes that Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend will sharpen their focus, describing the tie as an even encounter which Fener are quietly confident of winning over two legs.
He told The Mirror: “The pressure is on Arsenal and that gives us a little advantage in a game which is 50-50. Arsenal are difficult opponents but we’re also a tough opponent for them. For me, this tie will be very level, very well matched.
“Arsenal’s defeat to Aston Villa was a surprise but it’s not good for us. They will be even more focused and determined for our game. Our key is to go to London with a tight score line. I’ve had some good experiences in London and I believe if the result is within reach then we can go through.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger goes into Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Fenerbahce under unprecedented pressure.
The Frenchman has won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the London club since his arrival in 1996, but has seen his standing diminish over the course of eight trophyless years.
There is little doubt that Wenger needs a win when his team make the daunting trip to Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in the first leg of their play-off encounter against Fenerbahce.
Unlike their next opponents, the Turkish side have been busy in the market of late, bringing in the likes of Emmanuel Emenike, Michal Kadlec and Bruno Alves during the close-season period.
The teams last met in the group stages of this competition in the 2008-09 season, and shared a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium after Arsenal had ran out 5-2 winners in Turkey.