Backing Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League group stage is a slim, shady 1/5 bet sure to be balked at by all but the most optimistic of pro-Gunners gamblers as they take on Besiktas.
With the tie poised at a very slightly advantageous 0-0, Arsenal nonetheless look extremely precarious thanks to an untimely smiting from the god of injuries and suspensions.
The Gunners are 2/5 to claim the necessary victory in 90 minutes, with the draw 18/5 and the Turks 6/1 for second successive away win in the competition.
Arsene Wenger must plot a way past Besiktas without Kieran Gibbs and skipper Mikel Arteta, while the pace of Theo Walcott remains absent.
Yet Olivier Giroud’s foot injury and Aaron Ramsey’s harsh suspension are most problematic, as they eliminate two players who exist in splendid isolation in terms of what they offer the team.
The Frenchman offers a combination of goal threat and line-leading presence/know-how unparalleled by potential replacements Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski or Alexis Sanchez.
Meanwhile, Ramsey’s directness and instinctive attacking runs from deep midfield are something he offers the side in far greater abundance than his potential replacements.
For an outfit that sometimes struggles to turn possession into incision on home turf when inferiors are on the menu, the absence of its two highest scorers of 2013/14 spells D-A-N-G-E-R.
The need to take the game to the opposition is stark, with a lead of one leaving the back-door open for the tragedy of an away goal.
As wave after toothless wave of Arsenal attacks lap the Black Eagles’ defence, there will be ample opportunity for Slaven Bilic’s men to catch them cold on counter given a favourable bounce, bobble or ricochet.
Besiktas are 3/1 to advance to the group stage by any means the laws of engagement allow, away goals and penalties included.