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Arsenal 1-0 Besiktas: Player Ratings

Arsenal beat Besiktas 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League Play-off at the Emirates today to secure qualification to the Group Stage of the competition for the 17th year in succession. Alexis Sanchez scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time, getting off the mark at his new club with a scuffed strike from inside the box after Jack Wilshere left the ball for the Chilean forward.

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Arsenal scrape past Besiktas to book Champions League berth

Arsenal's name will be in the pot for tomorrow's draw in the UEFA Champions League for a 17th straight season after the Gunners battled their way to a hard fought 1-0 win against Besiktas at the Emirates. Following a goal-less first leg in Turkey, Arsenal needed to win at home to ensure their place in the Champions League once again this season and a maiden goal in Arsenal colours for big summer signing Alexis Sanchez in injury time at the end of the first half was enough to secure the win.

Arsenal came into this match short of firepower with star midfielder Aaron Ramsey suspended and lead striker Olivier Giroud out with a possible long term injury, and chose an experienced starting eleven with Alexis Sanchez retaining his place in the team at the expense of Yaya Sanogo. There was also a return for the veteran defensive duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as Arsenal opted for wise heads for a crucial game.

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Arsenal lineup shock move for 6ft 7in striker

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In a rumour that has all the makings of an April Fools joke gone bad, the Birmingham Mail are reporting that Arsenal are plotting a shock move for 33 year old Serbian striker Nikola Zigic, formerly of Birmingham City.

The 6 foot 7 inch Serbian has been offered a 4 month contract by the Gunners according to his agent, with the option of adding another 12 months to the deal should he impress.

Zigic's agent said, "He was offered a contract to the end of the year, with an option to extend until the end of 2015. We will see what happens, but everything Nikola has to decide."

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Wenger weighing his options before asking United for favour

With Olivier Giroud staring at a lengthy layoff on the sidelines, Arsenal have had to consider desperate measures to bolster a now depleted forward line. The Daily Mail reports that Manchester United’s want away striker Danny Welbeck could soon find himself a new home at the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger has already clarified that Giroud’s injury won’t lead him to make distress purchases, but his dearth of quality strikers remain palpable as ever. Welbeck has so far been linked to only a handful of suitors. One thing that the 23 year old has going for him though is his age and that might be the only thing keeping Wenger interested. The England international tallied just 9 goals in the Premier League last season, which alarmingly enough is his highest tally so far.

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Wenger confirms Arsenal forward will stay

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is again being haunted by injury problems of his squad. The Gunners have lost frontman Olivier Giroud for a period of three months, following his ankle injury. This has also, in turn, played a crucial part in determining Lukas Podolski’s future at the north London club, with the press reporting Wenger making it clear that the German will stay at the Emirates in the near future.

The Frenchman was quoted telling reporters: “Podolski is in the squad tomorrow [for visit of Besiktas] and will stay with us.”

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Chelsea prepare to offload two of its stars

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Chelsea now have the opportunity to get rid of excess baggage, before the transfer window closes. The Blues have had their share of hits and misses in the transfer market over the last few years, with players failing to live up to expectations or conforming to prevailing philosophies usually finding themselves on the bench. The Express reports that AC Milan are willing to take some load off Jose Mourinho’s mind as well as his bench and have come calling for some of Chelsea’s surplus.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani recently said, “Our goal is to take a great striker. Fernando Torres? He is a great striker. Let's see if he comes or someone else. We are actively working. Van Ginkel? We are confident. We have made our proposal to Chelsea and are now waiting on an answer. We hope we can get him."

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Desperate LVG looking to create more transfer history

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A desperate Louis Van Gaal is trying every trick in the book to get his stumbling Manchester united career back on the track, before it reaches the point of no return. His latest ploy is to attempt a coup that has not been heard of for the last 76 years. The Daily Star reports that the Red Devils are considering a move for Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen.

As far as rivalries go, it doesn’t get any bigger than Liverpool and Manchester United. The last Merseysider to move to Old Trafford was Allenby Chilton in 1938! United have already spent a brobdingnagian £132 million in transfer activities, but only have one point to show for it so far. The record breaking announcement of Angel Di Maria’s arrival was soon drowned in the crescendo of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ at the Moo Camp, where United succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to a team 38 places below them.

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