Being an Arsenal supporter can be tough, but when it comes to the Champions League, it gets worst. Heading into tonight’s match against PSG, the Gunners can bust down the door. A victory against the French champions would not only see them top the group with one match to go, but they could also send a message.
Time after time, second place in the group stage was nearly a guarantee. Although there were times where it looked like it would slip away, they managed to hold on. Today, they have the opportunity to grab the number one spot with both hands, and prove to everyone that they are ready to go to battle. Lacking that killer instinct has been an enormous problem, but today, well today, they can put that all aside.
Coming in off two straight draws may not be the most motivating, but they put in a shift. Being able to not play well, but still manage to snatch a point is vital if you want to be successful.
How many times have previous champions struggled to get a result, only to receive praise from pundits and analysts?
Arsenal have proven that they are very well capable of earning points even when they aren’t at their best. Proof of that was their previous match at Old Trafford.
In all honesty, Arsenal had no right coming away with a point in that match. Despite a decent first half, they were far from average in the second. But, instead of feeling bad for themselves and dropping their head, they went to battle and punished Arsene Wenger’s biggest fan. Giroud with a bullet header, write that down in your notebook Mou!
Today is another opportunity to show that fight and grit. Prove to all the doubters that November isn’t going to a dreary month as it has been in the past. Show everyone that although you claim to have turned the page mentally, now it’s time to prove it on the pitch.
We now want to show them that we are playing at home and that we are a force at home. We want to keep first place.
It has to be our goal to finish top of the group. Then we would play against the second team from another group which would also be important, so I hope we will finish top.
– Granit Xhaka
Who Will We See
Arsene Wenger confirmed that everyone who featured on Saturday against Manchester United is fit and available. With that being said, the backline will choose itself, with my only concern again being Jenkinson.
He has the pace and the fight, that’s an obvious, but sometimes, it takes a little more than that. Does he have that cutting edge to not just make a difference, but at least be somewhat consistent when it matters most? At the weekend he made me nervous a few times, but then seemed to settle down. He’ll need a few touches early on in order to settle in, but I would imagine that if Unai Emery studied his opponent, he’d target Jenkinson.
That means who ever gets the nod ahead of Jenkinson on the right, which will likely be Theo, he’ll need to help out defensively.
As has been the usual, David Ospina should get the start between the sticks, and I’m totally ok with that.
The Colombian international has been a great example of professionalism, and when called on, he’s made his fair share of saves. Anyone recall his performance against PSG in Paris? Had it not been for him, Arsenal could well have been done and dusted by halftime. Therefore, today is David’s opportunity to help finish what he worked so hard to keep alive on matchday one.
In the midfield is where we may see one change.
Elneny and Coquelin got the nod against United, but Coquelina and Xhaka may be a better option tonight. Reason being is that Coq and Elneny are both defensive minded players. Despite their ability to break up play, neither of them are able to offer that killer pass going forward. Having Xhaka in the squad gives you that passing consistency, as well as the long ball threat.
Xhaka also has the ability to get stuck into a tackle, just in case you weren’t aware of that…
As I mentioned before, Theo Walcott is most likely going to start on the right side. But, Ox looks to be growing in confidence, while Walcott looks to be staggering a bit. With that said, Walcott making way for Ox wouldn’t be a terrible decision, but I don’t think Arsene Wenger will make that change from the start. Who knows, maybe he’ll prove me wrong.
Ozil is going to pull the strings behind the striker, so we don’t even need to discuss that.
On the left side is where there will be some questions.
Arsene Wenger has a man crush on Aaron Ramsey, I think that’s more than obvious. If he had to start him in goal and knew he wouldn’t get criticized, he would.
At the weekend Ramsey featured on the left, and I’m thinking we could see the same thing today. He gives the squad a bit more defensive consistency on that side, but going forward, he doesn’t necessarily have the legs to put n that effort up and down the pitch. You then end up having to watch him drag himself around for 15-20 minutes before halftime since his legs are heavy.
Another option with the Welshman would be to slot him into the middle along side Coq or Xhaka. You know Arsene Wenger wants to start Rambo, so he’s considering all options.
Starting Alexis on the left side with Giroud as the front man would probably be best.
The Frenchman is in fine form and deserves to be rewarded. That would allow for pace on the wings, with an in-form striker leading the line, and his physical presence in front of Trapp will cause problems.
Get The Job Done Arsenal
Anything can happen in a football match, we are all aware of that. But, we also know that there are those who are in better position to come away with a positive result.
In this case, although PSG comes in having won four straight, they have some significant absences.
Rabiot, Pastore and Kurzawa are all set to miss tonight’s match, with Serge Aurier being a late addition to that list. The Ivorian’s absence is actually a good thing for Arsenal seeing as his pace down that right side was frightening to watch in their previous meeting. That means whoever Emery puts on that side, someone with the pace of Alexis should be able to take advantage.
Nacho Monreal will also be thankful he doesn’t have to chase Aurier this time around.
There are talks that Di Maria may also be unavailable, but he’s likely to get the nod. He may not be 100%, therefore that too should be a slight advantage for the Gunners.
Winning tonight would allow Arsene Wenger and the lads to silence some critics, if not most. They would also be able to rest some players on matchday six against Basel. We all know some of these guys could use a breather, especially seeing as the next two months will be be fairly congested.
Given all that I’ve said, and I know it’s been a lot, I firmly believe that this is Arsenal’s statement in Europe. They will come out ready for battle, and they will put PSG to the sword. Put them up against the ropes like they did to use in Paris!
My prediction will be a bit adventurous, but I’m sticking by it. Don’t agree, that’s fine, but please do share your thoughts in the comments below. Some friendly banter never hurt anyone.
Arsenal 3-0 PSG (Giroud with a brace as pay back for his red card in matchday one)