Arsenal haven’t reached the quarter-final stage of this competition since the 2009-10 season and this is mainly due to their failure to prevail in the group stage. This year they will be hoping to finish top of their group, but it will be difficult as they have to go up against PSG twice. The French club are one of the best sides in Europe and have aspirations to win this competition in the near future. They have developed into a dangerous side over the last five years and it will be a good indicator of where Arsenal are in terms of Europe’s elite. Although it will be tough for Arsenal, they will be confident about their chances if they secure a positive result on Tuesday.
The Gunners have had an underwhelming start to the Premier League season, picking up seven points from four matches. At the weekend, they narrowly beat Southampton in a match thanks to a controversial late penalty award. The performance was disappointing as they struggled to create clear-cut chances and they will need to significantly improve on Tuesday to stand any chance of beating PSG. Arsene Wenger has slowly re-introduced his star players back into the starting eleven and they are likely to select a full strength team in Paris on Tuesday.
Their opponents have undergone wholesale changes since the end of last season. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Luiz have both left the club to move to the Premier League. Meanwhile, Unai Emery has been given the manager’s job, due to his remarkable success in Europe with Sevilla. He masterminded three consecutive Europa League triumph and PSG are hoping that he is the manager to guide them to Champions League success. They have started the Ligue 1 season poorly, dropping points in two of their four matches. After winning the league convincingly for the last few seasons, PSG are in somewhat of a transition period and Arsenal need to capitalise on that.
The other sides in Group A are FC Basel and Ludogorets, both tricky tests, but neither are expected to qualify for the next round. Despite PSG’s reputation, Arsenal have a great opportunity to top this group and finally qualify for the latter stages of the competition. This could be Arsene Wenger’s final season at the helm and he will be hoping to go out with a bang.
- PSG have qualified for the quarter-finals of this competition for the last four years. They will be hoping that Unai Emery can take them even further this season.
- Arsenal had a poor showing in last season’s Champions League, losing five of their eight matches in the competition.
The Argentine is the key player for this PSG side and has a history in this competition, having won it with Real Madrid in 2014. He has taken on more responsibility after the departure of Ibrahimovic and it will be interesting to see how he deals with being the star of the team. During his first season at PSG, he scored three goals and contributed two assists in ten Champions League appearances. He is still one of the best players on the continent and this competition gives him the platform to show that. The French league doesn’t have a lot of quality, which places more emphasis on Di Maria to perform in this competition. PSG have arguably grown weaker since last season, but they will be hoping to reach at least the semi-finals of the Champions League and Di Maria is central to their chances. Arsenal’s defence hasn’t looked great this season and Hector Bellerin can be targeted by opposition attacks. The full-back is excellent at going forwards, but he can be caught out of position and Di Maria has the quality to punish him.
After a busy summer with France, Olivier Giroud is being eased back into the first team and has yet to start a competitive match for Arsenal. At the weekend, Lucas Perez led the line, but the new signing didn’t impress. He will need time to adjust to the Premier League and Arsenal’s style of play, which means that Giroud will remain the club’s premier striker for the time being. The Gunners may not be able to dominate possession on Tuesday as PSG are a very good side. They will need to make sure that they can make the ball stick in the final ball when they do have it. Giroud is key as he can hold the ball up and links up well with the midfielders. Arsene Wenger’s side look more threatening with the French striker on the pitch, as he causes problems and creates space for the other attackers to exploit. He won the penalty that led to the winning goal against Southampton at the weekend and needs to start at the Parc des Princes.
Layvin Kurzawa picked up an injury on Friday evening, which could force Unai Emery into fielding Thiago Motta as a makeshift left back. Maxwell and Serge Aurier are set to miss Tuesday’s match. Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria will start after being rested on Friday, while Thiago Silva could return in the centre of defence.
Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud didn’t start at the weekend, but should both come into the team to face PSG. Aaron Ramsey is closing in on a return and could feature on the bench in France.
It is the perfect time for Arsenal to travel to the Parc des Princes, as PSG are adjusting to life under their new manager. The French club are ravaged with injuries and could have to start with a makeshift back four on Tuesday night. Arsenal have more or less their strongest eleven available and they should be confident ahead of their first Champions League match of the season. If they get at least a draw, that will be a positive result and provide them with a platform to win the group. I personally think that they can beat PSG, if they go there and set up with an attacking line-up as they will be coming up against a weakened defence.
PSG 1-2 Arsenal