Arsenal will win the group if Giroud starts
Match Preview: Arsenal vs PSG – Champions League – 23.11.2016
As usual November is turning out to be a rather disappointing match for Arsenal with one win and two draws from three rather winnable games. Arsenal have faced better Sp*rs and United sides and won in the past so two draws from those opponents has left quite a few of us scratching our heads. However, let it not go unsaid that this Arsenal side is undefeated since losing to Liverpool on the opening day and as far as November woes go this is a pretty good one.
The opposition tonight is PSG in a ‘winner takes all’ match. The victor tonight will be assured top spot in group A with both sides already qualified. PSG completely outplayed Arsenal in Paris in September and were it not for wayward finishing from Edison Cavani and heroics from David Ospina we’d likely be finishing second again. Instead a win for the Gunners would leave them three points clear of PSG with a better head-to-head record and with hectic festive schedule looming they could do with topping the group with a game to spare.
Wenger will be without Bellerin, who committed his long-term future to the Gunners on Monday, so Jenkinson will keep his place. The Corporal looked nervous against Manchester United but I think we can put a lot of that down to bad memories, being a little rusty and wanting to impress after 800+ days had passed since his last Arsenal start.
Given his effectiveness from the bench, and the relative lull in the club form of an undoubtedly tired Alexis Sanchez, you’d have to put Giroud down for a start. His physical presence alone will be a huge benefit to Arsenal as they make use of the crossing ability within the squad. Should Giroud make the first XI and Arsenal get off to a good start with cautious but purposeful tactics then I think we could be in for a good win. The worry is we will continue with Alexis up front which has stalled as a project since Cazorla has been injured. Without Santi Arsenal have been slow at getting the ball from deep midfield to Özil and that has impacted on the goal-scoring form of Alexis. A good choice for midfield tonight would be to partner Xhaka with one of the other defensive midfielders or possibly even Aaron Ramsey to give Arsenal a bit more incisive passing.
Seven of Arsenal’s last 9 goals have come with Giroud through the middle and the French striker boasts 8 goals from his last 9 shots on target. Alexis has failed to find the net in 7 of his last 9 matches as a striker for Arsenal so it might be time to give Oli a start.
Ospina; Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka; Özil; Ramsey, Giroud, Walcott
I expect to see substitute appearances from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis and Iwobi.
“We have done what was expected and we have done it away from home, now we can finish the job at home” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- PSG 1-1 Arsenal 13.09.2016
- Arsenal 1-0 PSG 12.04.1994 (Friendly)
- PSG 1-1 Arsenal 29.03.1994 (Friendly)
PSG have been in great form of late and are currently sat level on points at the top of the French table. In fact, they’ve been in excellent form, winning all but one of their matches, since their shock loss against Toulouse in September. Les Parisiens form can be partly attributed to their depth so with Serge Aurier denied a visa for this match due to a suspended conviction he received in September you can expect PSG to take it in their stride.
PSG have a few players with question marks over their fitness such as Alphonse Areola and Layvin Kurzawa as well as Angel Di Maria who left the pitch during the first half in their win over Nantes. Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot are expected to miss the match.
- Arsenal are unbeaten since the start of the season.
- PSG have won only one of their eight away games against English opposition in all competitions (D3 L4).
- The French club are yet to beat Arsenal in European competition (D2 L1).
- PSG have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine competitive games against English clubs.
- Arsenal have won their two home games in this season’s Champions League, scoring eight goals and conceding none.
- Since their return to the Champions League in 2012/13, PSG have won 20 of their 28 group games.
- Arsenal have made it past the group stages for the 14th consecutive season but have been knocked out at the last 16 stage in the last six campaigns.
- Mesut Ozil has scored four and assisted two of Arsenal’s last eight Champions League goals.
- Edinson Cavani’s goal after 42 seconds against Arsenal in September is the fastest in the Champions League this season.
- In fact, all three goals conceded by Arsenal in this season’s competition have come in the opening 15 minutes.
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
If we start with Giroud I think we’ll shade this 2-1.
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