Arsenal have guaranteed themselves a place in the knockout round with two games to spare. Ordinarily this would now give them a great chance of pushing for that cherished top spot.
Several times in the last few years they’ve drawn Bayern and Barcelona as punishment for finishing second in their group. The Gunners have looked like bucking that trend this season, but now they may turn their attention to domestic concerns instead.
The word is that a handful of Arsenal players are carrying injuries that could flare up if they’re required to play three times in a week. Santi Cazorla came into the season with an achilles problem and has been out since October.
If the Spaniard is fit Wenger may prefer to save him for the Premier League where Arsenal are in for a hard slog for the title or top four this season.
Koscielny is in the same boat, while Alexis Sánchez was in the middle of a tug-of-war between Arsenal and Chile after he was diagnosed with a hamstring problem but still selected for their qualifier against Uruguay.
A month ago you might have backed Arsenal to get the better of PSG at home. They were playing some outrageous football in September and October but in every season they go through patches when they look like strangers. That could well happen now
And don’t forget that it’s November, a supposedly cursed month for the Gunners. In Wenger’s 20-year reign Arsenal have only picked up 1.49 points per game in November, compared to 2.15 in October and 2.18 in March.
This is never a good time of year to be an Arsenal supporter.
By their own high standards PSG have made a slow start in Ligue 1 this season. Things seem to be settling now but it took some time for the players to look comfortable under Unai Emery.
Yet when it comes to European football, the players can have no doubts that the Basque coach knows what he’s doing. Three Europa League titles in three years at Sevilla speaks for itself.
It’s a reason PSG might be worth a punt to go all the way in the Champions League. They may not be up there with Real Madrid and Barcelona, but Emery has a knack of assembling unfancied winners and may yet add to France’s tally of just one Champions League trophy.
When these two teams met at Parc des Princes in September PSG should have mopped the floor with Arsenal. Only some bizarre luck and an off-night for Edinson Cavani prevented them from hitting four or five that night.
If Arsenal do decide to rest players, or if they are out of sorts, PSG won’t be so charitable this time. They looked imperious in their last domestic fixture, a 4-0 thrashing of Rennes, and are just coming to the boil.
When you look at Emery’s Sevilla sides there’s a common theme in midfield, where a rangy athletic player occupies the deepest role. That was Carriço, Mbia, N’Zonzi or Krychowiak.
Up to this season PSG have preferred the diminutive Verratti in that position. But Adrien Rabiot is more in Emery’s mould and has nailed down the role. He’s been exceptional, passing, tackling and driving forward, all at the tender age of 21.
Aided by Verratti and Matuidi Rabiot helps form a midfield that looks a lot more balanced than Arsenal’s going into this match.
Arsenal vs PSG Match Prediction
We would be leaning towards a win for PSG if this game wasn’t being played at the Emirates. Of the two teams PSG can afford to give everything to try and secure that top spot, while Arsenal are in a more competitive league where every domestic point counts.
Still, the Gunners do have a relatively strong record at home in the Champions League, beating Bayern well in the group stage last year. And even if they’re missing key players they can select internationals like Ramsey, Giroud and Elneny. So we’re thinking that odds of 3.4 for a draw represent decent value.
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