Merson issues Arsenal warning after Champions League draw

Paul Merson

Merson has warned Arsenal that they are in a dangerous position after their failure to beat Besiktas last night.

Former Arsenal star Paul Merson has warned the side that their progress in the Champions League is far from secure after a 0-0 draw with Besiktas last night.

The Gunners couldn’t break the deadlock against the Turkish side, managed by Slavan Bilic, yesterday and Merson says that their qualification to the group stages is now far from certain.

Arsenal will host Besiktas on Tuesday of next week and Merson has warned the side that if they attack too vigorously, as is their favoured style, they could concede a costly away goal.

"It's Arsenal Achilles’ heel: in big games, they open the game up,” he said. “Fair play to them. If you’re a neutral it’s great to watch but it’s a dangerous game."

“They came unstuck last season in the Premier League against the big teams when they opened the game up – ‘you have a shot, we have a shot, we’re better than you’."

“Yes, the lesser teams they are. But not the top teams and I think they need to change that."

“Even though they should win this game it’s a dangerous score because even if you score in the first five minutes and dominate the game to the 85th minute it only needs a flukey goal and you could be out.”

The Gunners didn’t create enough chances to win the game last night and will have to attack with a greater tempo next week, although Merson insists that their efforts must not become over-zealous.

Demba Ba, now Besiktas’s star player, is known to Premier League fans and showed his threat last night – coming close to opening the scoring on multiple occasions - suggesting he could a potent enough of an outlet to score a crucial goal.

Arsene Wenger’s side will also be without Aaron Ramsey after he picked up two yellow cards, ruling him out of the tie through suspension, and that makes the task which faces them tougher.

Arsenal should still qualify, but there is a certain risk involved with the second-leg and the Turkish side certainly travel with legitimate hope that they could pull off an upset.

The Gunners have failed to live up to expectations in the early stages of the season, with two performances that have been short of the quality required so far.

The North-London outfit have been identified as one of the best sides in England this season and are expected to mount a serious title challenge, but as yet they haven’t hit top gear.

It is still early days, though, and they will be hoping to show that they can compete in both the Premier League and in Europe in the next week.

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