Even by Champions League standards, the stakes are dramatically high for Fenerbahce and Arsenal in a playoff round first-leg clash on Wednesday.
Arsenal seems to be in turmoil after a Premier League opening day loss fueled fans’ fury at the cash-rich club’s failure to sign big-name offseason targets. “I believe our season will depend on how we respond to this defeat,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Saturday after a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday provoked hostile boos at the Emirates Stadium.
Fenerbahce hosts Arsenal in Istanbul hours after its lawyers begin a two-day court hearing in Switzerland to challenge expulsion from the Champions League by UEFA in a long-running domestic match-fixing case. UEFA agreed to let Fenerbahce play while the appeal proceeds. The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict - promised next week after the return match in London - could yet decide which team advances.