Josh Mart takes the chance to preview Paris Saint Germain’s trip to the English capital to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. This encounter is absolutely crucial to both sides’ hopes of winning the group, as with just two matches to go including this one, both sides sit locked on 10 points at the top of Group A.
Last time out Arsenal survived a severe scare in Sofia against Ludogorets, as the Gunners were 2-0 down after 15 minutes but managed to win 3-2 in the late stages after a piece of genius from Mesut Ozil. PSG on the other hand were 2-1 winners in Switzerland against Basel. The previous meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw early in September.
Arsenal have been in really good form of late, both domestically and on the continental stage. Saturday’s 1-1 draw away at Man Utd can even be seen as a poor result for Arsene Wenger’s men given how well they have been playing. The Gunners sit 4th in the Premier League table but are only 3 points behind Chelsea at the summit.
PSG are still struggling to get to the heights that they have become accustomed to in Ligue 1 and they currently sit 3rd in the table behind Monaco and surprise package Nice, who top the table after thirteen match days.
Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Nantes was a good routine win for Les Parisiens, something which they have lacked since Laurent Blanc was replaced by former Sevilla manager Unai Emery in the summer.
Both managers are very keen to win the group, as by doing so you at least give yourself the best opportunity of avoiding the continental players such as Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Team News and Tactics
Year in year out, Arsenal seem to always have many injury concerns throughout crucial periods of the season. Wenger has a real selection headache here as players such as Bellerin, Cazorla, Lucas Perez and Welbeck all absent through injury.
With this in mind I expect Arsenal to start off in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ospina expected to deputise in goals ahead of Cech. Jenkinson and Monreal are likely to be the full backs with Mustafi and Koscielny the ever improving centre back partnership.
I think Coquelin and Xhaka will get the nod ahead of the likes of Elneny. Walcott or Oxlade Chamberlain will start from the right and Iwobi looks set to start on the left. Ozil will play as the number 10 with Giroud potentially getting the nod up front after his heroics at the weekend, although that could depend on the fitness of the Chilean Alexis Sanchez.
PSG also have availability issues of their own as Pastore, Kurzawa and Rabiot are all ruled out through injury. Serge Aurier, who can’t seem to keep himself out of the headlines, is unavailable due to visa issues relating to his 2 month suspended prison sentence. Di Maria and Areola are also doubts.
With this in mind I expect Emery to opt for a 4-3-3 formation with Maxwell and Meunier as the full backs, with the Brazilian duo of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva at the heart of the defence. The midfield 3 is likely to consist of Thiago Motta, Matuidi and Verratti, although Krychowiak could start ahead of the veteran Italian. I think Di Maria might play despite concerns over his fitness and he will join Lucas Moura and Cavani in attack.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – The hugely talented German has always been renowned for his assists and excellent passing ability but has never really scored ‘enough’ goals. This season is a different story though, as Ozil has added goals to his game with 7 so far. PSG will have to be wary of him in this one.
Di Maria (PSG) – The talented yet sometimes frustrating Argentinean will feel as though he has a point to prove still in England after an unsuccessful spell with Manchester United. Di Maria can be unplayable on his day and PSG will need him to perform at his excellent best here.
The managers are predicting an open game and to a certain extent I agree. However, I think whoever gets the first goal will be very concerned about giving too much away, especially if it is the visitors who score it. Ultimately, I expect both teams to score but Arsenal, with home advantage, to edge it.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 PSG