So the new season is back and after finishing second in the Premier League last season, we are now back in the Champions League for the 19th season in a row with a tough first group game against Paris Saint German in France, a match which may be our toughest group game. After being drawn in a group with PSG, Basel and Ludogorets, we are expected to progress through to the knockout stages. We look to have a lot of depth in our 25 man squad and there will be a lot of players fighting for their place in the starting line up in France. Wenger could afford to rest the likes of Sanchez and Xhaka on Saturday in preparation for the game on Tuesday so it does look like he will be fielding a very strong team.
Team news update
Although Aaron Ramsey returned to training on Monday he will not be travelling with the squad after some concerns about his recent hamstring injury. Laurent Koscielny has been declared fit to play after suffering a facial injury in the game on Saturday. As Wenger confirmed, “He is alright. I was worried after the game at Southampton because he took a knock to his face, but he is ok”.
Koscielny was outstanding at both ends of the pitch against Southampton and I am sure that, if Arsenal are to get a result from the game at the Parc des Princes, he will play a big part defensively.
Head to Head
It has been over 20 years since Arsenal and PSG last met. Arsenal had the last laugh that day after they beat PSG in the 1993/94 European Cup Winners Cup semi-final, winning 2-1 on aggregate. Indeed, Arsenal boast a great record against French clubs in European competions being unbeaten in their last 12 away games in France, and winning the last seven. Hopefully this impressive run will continue.
Wenger has a lot of decisions to make in the upcoming game involving his team selection. One key talking point is whether he will stick with Cech in goal or play Ospina.
As we have seen in previous years, Wenger does tend to like to have a keeper for the cup competitions and a keeper for league matches so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Columbian replace the experienced Czech international. Mustafi looks set to partner Koscielny at centre back again as the pair both have a lot of European experience.
The midfield is where Arsenal do have a lot of options and to be honest I really don’t know who Wenger will choose to play in the holding two. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stuck with Cazorla and Coquelin who did a very good job for us there on Saturday.
Coquelin’s performance wasn’t widely discussed, but he did put in a very passionate and solid display. However, I think that Xhaka was rested because Wenger had planned to play him in this game. His experience playing in this competition with Borussia Mönchengladbach may come in useful, but Wenger may need to rethink this after Coq’s performance. Playing in front of these two most certainly will be Özil through the centre with Sanchez on the left and with the right wing position up for grabs. Ox, Walcott and Iwobi can all do a good job there, but personally my pick would have to be between Iwobi and the Ox.
Walcott just hasn’t stepped up to the job lately and Ox and Iwobi both seem to always put in a good shift and are two really good young promising players.
I think there is only one man for the lone striker role, and that’s Giroud. He hasn’t started a Premier League game all season and he was one of the players Wenger rested on Saturday especially for this game. I could see Perez coming on for the Frenchman as he tires later on in the game, but for me Giroud has to start.
Overall, then, my predicted line up would be: Ospina-Bellerin-Mustafi-Koscielny-Monreal-Cazorla-Xhaka-Özil-Iwobi-Alexis-Giroud
I think this will end up being a very close game but I do think Arsenal have the qualities to outdo PSG in all departments. The Parisians are playing under a new manager and haven’t had the best of starts to the season, having lost Zlatan Ibrahimović and David Luiz over the summer. Both teams have very strong midfields so it will be a tight battle so I can see this game being separated by the one goal.
Come on you gunners!