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.