Tag Archives: paris

Basel 1-4 Arsenal: 5 Keypoints From The Match

This match was set up to be the typical Arsenal Euro tie.

A necessity for rotation would see a weakened side rock up to St Jakob Park and lose with an insipid performance – only to see the result they were hanging on for come to fruition. 

Well, the script didn’t come into play, as the Gunners ran riot and won handsomely – all while rotating the squad just enough to rest some first teamers. 

Not only that, but Ludogorets defied the odds and grabbed a point in Paris – thus handing the Gunners top spot in the group.

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid may lay in wait in the knockout stages, but Arsenal have finished top of their group for the first time in five years.

A hat-trick from Lucas Perez and a fourth from Alex Iwobi earned the win in Switzerland, and the potentially tricky match against Stoke on Saturday will be a lot easier knowing Mustafi, Cech, Theo and a few others will be far fresher than if they were to have played against Basel.

Also, confidence will have been imbued within some of our players who have flitted in and out of the side. 

All positives! 

Here are 5 key points from the 90mins:
Lucas Perez up to speed

The Spaniard was only declared fully fit last week, and played in the EFL Cup loss to Southampton. Yet he showed great instinct to score his first two and grabbed his Hattrick with his right foot with a smart finish. Lucas could be a great option with so many fixtures coming up.
Gibbs with 3 assists

Gibbs has been the epitome of professionalism while Montreal has been enjoying first choice status, but he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. The Englishman has improved, and his final ball and attacking runs caused havoc against Basel. Great to see.
Alexis and Özil given 40winks

Much of the talk before the game was whether our two star players would be given a rest. They weren’t, as Wenger chased the unlikely prospect of top spot in the group. It paid off, and the two players were taken off in the 74th minute. Not much, but better than the whole 90. Every little will help with the slew of games coming up.
Holding highly regarded

Rob Holding was given another start, and the young lad continues to impress. Alongside Koscielny, he showed excellent positioning and aerial prowess. If he continues this progress, what a player we will have in the future.
Top spot matters

People will deride the fact that we have finished 1st, stating that we will still likely get a tough draw with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid potential opponents. What does come into play will be home advantage – the second leg will be at home. A slim plus, but a plus nonetheless – and any advantage is a good one in the knockout stages.
There was more to take from the game, such as another solid game from Gabriel and Iwobi looking a little more assured than of late, but the above really stood out as the big talking points of the game.

We took top spot, we won convincingly again and we took care of our squad. 

Good times. As Arsenal fans, we should enjoy them when they’re here. That’s why we are fans. 

Onwards to the Stoke game! 

Arsenal Vs PSG – Champions League Preview

This match will decide who finishes top of Champions League Group A – and therefore has a better chance of progression in the knockout stages by avoiding the big guns.

Arsenal host Ligue Un champions Paris Saint Germain, and both teams will look to field their strongest sides despite fixture congestion starting to up the strain on squads in Europe.

So, the reward for victory is sizeable, but the sacrifices that must be made will come in the form of fatigue. Arsene Wenger’s squad is well covered in all positions, so the rigours of a game every three days should be well within their vast capabilities.

That being said, rotation will be key in the coming weeks, so the team that Wenger names will be strong, but may include the odd surprise after the insipid performance in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the weekend. 

Wenger’s continuation with ‘Cup Keepers’ will continue, so that means a return for David Ospina. The Colombian was the hero of the corresponding fixture, a 1-1 draw that was anything but equal on the pitch. PSG slayed the Gunners in everything but scoreline, but the one-man barricade otherwise known as Ospina blocked, deflected and stopped nearly everything that came his way – and that was a lot.

PSG will feel hard done by with not achieving victory the first time around, but they have another chance to rectify that result at The Emirates tonight. Surely our team will turn up this time around?

Our team will have to perform better than their last outings, as the draws with United and tottenham were toothless in nature. So, will Wenger ring the changes?

Aside from Ospina in for Cech, Bellerin and Santi Cazorla will still be missing from the lineup – as well as long-term absentees Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck. There is good news for Spanish forward Lucas Perez, who has returned to training well ahead of schedule, although a return to the first team may be some weeks yet.

In terms of who will take to the field, a similar team to the one who travelled to Old Trafford will be expected. The only bones of contention will be who plays on the left of attack – as Aaron Ramsey exhibited his rustiness against United. 

Will Ramsey be dropped altogether? Or could he be moved into midfield at the expense of either Mohamed Elneny or Francis Coquelin – who did not impose themselves in the same match. Granit Xhaka came on as a late substitute and will have some say on selection, but it was his fellow late swaps that have a larger claim to play in this game.

It was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who made the equaliser with his gumption and forward thinking – something we were severely lacking. His distribution found the lurking Olivier Giroud who finished well. Both players may just get the nod, but if Giroud does play, then Alexis will move to the left and The Ox will vie with Walcott for the right spot.

Alexis could be rested altogether, after a gruelling few weeks and a large amount of strapping applied to his thigh is testament that the Chilean wonder is hurting, even a little. An injured Alexis is not good news for the club, so a spell on the bench – at least for this match – may be on the cards. 

So many variables, and all this conjecture has done is confuse things. We can be sure that the team will be strong, and top spot is very much on the radar, and that is about it.

PSG won’t be able to call upon the services of Serge Aurier, as he was mystifyingly refused passage to the UK. The problems grow for the Parisians, as Angel Di Maria did not finish the weekend’s domestic game, and is a huge doubt for the game. With Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore both doubtful, the creative flow of PSG could be halted before kickoff. 

They will still be packed full of talent, but this match is a great opportunity to grab some much needed confidence and also to remind PSG that we are more than a match for them. 

Top spot in the group, pride, and a better set of odds for getting past the Last16 are all up for grabs. It is time to end the November blues. Let’s get back to winning ways.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Theo, Ozil, Ox, Giroud. 

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal. 

PSG 1-1 Arsenal – 5 Things We Learned

The first game of this seasons Champions League campaign took us to Paris, in what is arguably our toughest game of the group. PSG have had a great run in Europe’s premiere competition in recent years, and will be most bookies favourite for top spot, but with a new coach, lacklustre striking options and a defensive injury crisis, there was no better time to get this match out of the way.

Or so we thought. PSG scored the quickest goal against us in Champions League history – 42 seconds to be precise – and Mustafi will have nightmares after leaving Cavani unopposed to flick in a header. 

The rest of the game was pretty much one way traffic, as our tactics were wrong, and the man who shouldn’t have even been in the team – David Ospina – kept us in the game. Then, Giroud came on.

The bearded Frenchman’s cameo didn’t involve a goal, nor an assist, but it was as if we transformed and realised how we are supposed to play. Our first shot on target – in the 77th minute – led to our goal from Alexis Sanchez, and we left Paris with our incredible record playing in France intact – we still have never suffered a loss in France.

There was much to ponder during the ninety minutes, but here are five things that stood out from the game that will generate much consternation and hubbub on social networks. What do you think? – 

Three strange calls, but only one cannot be explained

Ospina named as keeper. Coquelin in ahead of Xhaka. Sanchez up front ahead of Giroud. Three calls that had fans scratching their heads, but only one could really call itself a mystery. Ospina pretty much answered all critics with a performance that kept us in the game. Surely a man of the match display, and despite some questionable distribution, he really put to rest the ghosts of his horror show in last seasons Champions League. With Sanchez instead of Giroud, surely if he was playing on the last shoulder of the defence, and running onto slide rule passes, he would prosper, but our tactics didn’t suit him. Nevertheless, you can see the method in the madness in naming him in the lineup. Leaving Xhaka out of the lineup, after doing the same against Southampton last weekend? I can see no justification. Xhaka must play. 

Ozil is only warming up

People will use his exquisite pass to Iwobi which eventually led to our equaliser, but on the whole, Ozil was lacking. He always contributes to any attack, and he is quite excellent at creating space with a simple pass, but he is expected to make the difference. Against Southampton and PSG, he was off the boil. He will improve, but right now, we need him firing. 

Sanchez has all the attributes, but must stay out wide

Sanchez had seventy minutes against Thiago Silva and Marquinhos in a central area, but didn’t make a dent. As soon as Giroud came on the field and Sanchez reverted to type, the growling, dangerous Chilean returned. He was easily contained when playing as a sole striker, but he has all the attributes to succeed.  What would help is if our football was played in a manner that suited him. He has electric pace, and if given space, he will score. If you whizz multiple crosses into the box, then Alexis will not prosper. The jury is out on whether he can play as a striker, but the team could at least help him!

Giroud needs to play

As mentioned above, we had seventy minutes of blunted, futile football. An hour and ten minutes where we seemed unable to hirt a team that on paper, is on a par with ours. Then, Giroud came on, and our play instantly clicked into gear. Love or loathe him, he has a great touch, he brings people into play, and our strengths suit him. He needs to play, until we learn how to adapt. Mind you, we will have to do without him for the next game, as he will be suspended. Should be a rocky ride!!

The Ox needs to step up
The Ox has had numerous opportunities, and arguably has had more runs in the team than Theo Walcott. Yet, his end product is just as woeful as in previous seasons. Yes, once in every ten mazy runs will reap a goal or set piece, but overall, he must utilise what talent he has, and practice efficiency. His stats are beyond dire, and any other player would have been jettisoned. Time is running out. 

PSG Vs Arsenal – Champions League Preview

The curtain opener for our Champions League campaign begins in Paris, with an away match versus the French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Last season saw the French side motor to the semi-final stage of this competition and canter to yet another domestic title, but times are very different for our opponents.

Laurent Blanc was the coach in place last season, but this summer saw him replaced by Sevilla coach Unai Emery – something of a knockout competition specialisr after winning back-to-back Europa League cups with the Spanish side. 

Backed by heavy-hitting financial clout, the Paris side are odds-on favourites to start this seasons European opener with a win, but there are many other factors that perhaps may make bookies eat their words somewhat.

Firstly, PSG aren’t exactly rampant this season. Last campaign saw them take part in what was effectively a one-horse-race, but after four games, they lie in 7th spot, three points behind leaders Monaco. 

Not only are they searching for consistency, but they are looking for a solution to the injury problems which have suddenly beset them. 

Their last game was a 1-1 draw with St Etienne, and one of their shining lights this season, Layvin Kurzawa, was injured. So low are the defensive numbers for Emery to call upon, that he had to draft in midfielder Gregorz Krychowiak to replace the injured Frenchman. 

With defensive lynchpin Thiago Silva out with a hip injury, then fringe players such as Maxwell may be implemented. It isn’t only defence where PSG are struggling either. 

After last seasons top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed for the red half of Manchester, Jese from Real Madrid was brought in to bolster numbers. It leaves Edinson Cavani as the main striker, and the Uruguayan isn’t exactly pulling up trees for his side.

Whilst Cavani may be easier to deal with for our defenders, Arsenal may be bereft of perhaps their most important player this season – Laurent Koscielny. Late on in the 2-1 victory over Southampton, a stray boot left the Arsenal skipper crumpled on the deck and a doubt for this game. Rob Holding stands by to deputise, in what will be the youngsters biggest game to date.

Alexis Sanchez was on the bench for the game, and made a late cameo, but will surely be on the team sheet for tonight. Aaron Ramsey is approaching full fitness, but this game has come too soon for the Welshman, the same goes for Gabriel.

Key midfielder Granit Xhaka was rested for this game after his exploits for Switzerland, and Coquelin is expected to make way so the burgeoning partnership between the Swiss star and Santi Cazorla can blossom further.

It will be in the heart of the pitch that this match is won, and sparks will fly between two combative players. Xhaka and Marco Verratti will line up against each other and the victor will determine who gets the upper hand on the pitch. 

There will be other key battles all over the pitch, and it will be fascinating to see if Mesut Ozil can escape the shackles of Krychowiak to find the space he needs to wreak his own brand of havoc. Can Monreal keep tabs on Lucas Moura? Can Serge Aurier keep Theo and Alexis quiet?

The chance to finally grab top spot in our group is their for the taking, and perhaps avoiding a rough draw for the Last 16. This game will be vital in determining who will sit in pole position for that lucrative position. 

Also, a win in Paris against one of the favourites for the whole competition would send a message to future opponents – and fill our players with that magical substance that enable our play to come alive. Confidence.

Another season in the Champions League was minimum reward for last seasons efforts, but now is the time to ensure we make the most of this opportunity. 

Our squad is more than capable of going on a run. Now is the time we can make a mark on the pinnacle of club competition. 

This match in Paris will be a huge test, but a win could be the catalyst for something very special, in Europe and back in the Premier League, with Hull City next up on Saturday. 

Time to shine.