Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Arsenal v PSG Preview

Arsenal play at home to PSG tomorrow night in a game which will probably decide the outcome of their Champions League group. As it stands both teams have already qualified for the last 16 and it's just a matter of which team wins the group and which one comes second. If either team wins the game the group is theirs and the permutations become a little more complicated after that.

A scoreless draw would give Arsenal the advantage as they drew 1-1 away to PSG, but any draw higher than 1-1 gives that advantage to PSG. It gets really complicated if it finishes 1-1 because then their head to head results will be even and their results against the rest of the group will come into play. The easy way for Arsenal to win the group is to beat PSG and not have to worry about anything else after that.

Of course it's fairly seldom that Arsenal do things the easy way and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get a draw and then fail to win away to Basel in their last game. The importance of winning the group can be seen by looking at the teams winning the other groups and the desire to avoid all of them in the last 16. Of course most of the groups are not settled yet and it could be that a runners up slot is almost better than winning the group. At the moment Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus are all second in their groups and we would certainly want to avoid any of them in the last 16 if possible.

I don't think Arsenal are strong enough yet to win the Champions League, but maybe they could go as far as a semi final with the right draw and some good performances. They always get past the group stage, but it's been far too long since they made it into the quarter finals. It's become a real burden for the team and just maybe this season they can rid themselves of that burden.

Arsenal drew their first group game 1-1 away to PSG, but they were more than a little lucky on the night. If Edinson Cavani had his shooting boots on that night he could easily have scored four or five goals from the chances he had. He missed most of them though and Arsenal very nearly snuck a late win to boot. Since then Cavini has scored plenty of goals and I don't think he will pass up so many gilt edged chances if they come his way this time.

Arsenal haven't played at all well in their last two games when they drew with Spurs and United and they will have to do a lot better to get a result against PSG. The formation against United was all wrong for me with the combination of Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny not offering enough creativity in midfield and Aaron Ramsey most certainly not suited to playing in a wide left role. I would like to see Ramsey play with Granit Xhaka in midfield as long as Santi Cazorla continues to miss out through injury.

Arsene Wenger has some big decisions to make with his team selection and the midfield choices could be crucial as they will set the tempo for the rest of the team. Xhaka has not cemented a slot in the team yet since his big money move in the summer, but surely the time has come to give him a chance. I think the boss is a little worried about his discipline and the prospect of him picking up a yellow or red card any time a player goes past him.

The defence more or less picks itself with Carl Jenkinson continuing to fill in for the injured Hector Bellerin and David Ospina getting the nod in goal as he has done in the previous group games. I'm still worried about Jenkinson, but it was Nacho Monreal who struggled on the left of the defence in Paris. Ospina proved his worth that night with a fantastic display and he was the main reason behind Arsenal managing to get a draw that night.

The attacking trio gives the boss a few headaches too with a couple of tough decisions to make. If Alexis Sanchez is fit he has to play, but the question is whether he will play wide or centrally. If he doesn't play centrally it would surely mean a return to the starting line up for Olivier Giroud. He has to have a good chance of starting, but his lack of pace is what has kept him out of the team so far.

I can't imagine Ramsey will play a wide role again which will mean we will see one or both of Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi in the team. I would be fairly sure Walcott will start regardless and Iwobi could be the best option on the other side if Alexis is central.

I like Iwobi and he has the ability to make things happen, but he needs to improve his finishing. He doesn't look confident in front of goal and I can only hope he's putting in lots of extra work to remedy the situation. He's certainly put himself in the manager's plans ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain despite his tender age, but who knows the boss could surprise us all and throw Chamberlain in from the start.

Even with Bellerin, Cazorla, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck injured there are still plenty of options for the boss to mull over. If we're going to get the better of PSG he will have to find a combination of those available players to inject some tempo into the team and bring a bit more desire than we have seen recently. The players to do so are certainly there, but finding that right blend is the trick Arsenal are missing out on at the moment. They haven't found their mojo for too long now, but maybe we might just see one of those occasional scintillating European performances which we get treated to every so often.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment