Slaven Bilic has admitted Arsenal are the favourites but insisted his Besiktas players are well prepared for Tuesday’s Champions League play-off first-leg clash in Turkey.
The Gunners travel to Ataturk Olympic Stadium – Besiktas’s Vodafone Arena is being redeveloped – for the first of two legs before welcoming the Turkish club to the Emirates on August 27.
Arsenal have competed in the Champions League for the last 16 consecutive seasons and with the summer arrival of Alexis Sanchez, the Gunners are firm favourites to pick up the win in the opening match at a price of 1.66.
Besiktas, who defeated Dutch outfit Feyenoord in the previous round, are in high spirits leading up to the game though and Bilic has insisted his team are well prepared for the tough encounter.
“We are ready with everything for this game. We know the opponent very well and have prepared well. We have respect for our opponents, because we are playing against one of the strongest teams in Europe,” he said.
“Arsenal are the favourites, but we will try our very best. We have a dream and we will do our very best to make it happen.”
Besiktas, who are priced at 5.15 for the win on Tuesday, will be hoping that new signing Demba Ba can continue to fire as he did in the last round where the former Chelsea forward grabbed a hat-trick against Feyenoord.
There are fitness concerns for the home side ahead of the match though with midfielder Atiba Hutchinson rated 50-50 due to a hamstring injury.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also has doubts for the game and the Frenchman may be forced to rush Germany’s World Cup defender Per Mertesacker back from his post-World Cup lay-off early because of injuries to Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs.