Another year, another Champions League Group Stage. Tomorrow, Arsenal begin their campaign with their toughest game in an arguable winnable group. Paris St Germain are the toast of the French league as reigning champions and the favourites along with Arsenal to top Group A, all due respect to Basel and Ludogorets, but they aren’t the same side as last year.
After cruising to their domestic title, PSG saw their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic leave for Man Utd, along with a few other notable departures (although, selling David Luis is a good bit of business). With a rash of new arrivals and some notable injuries, they’ve struggled a bit to start their season and look to be a team trying to refind their form. It might be the perfect time to face them.
Or it were, if Arsenal were approaching any level of confident play themselves. Also working in new signings, Arsenal have hardly hit the ground running, holding a similar record to PSG in their league. Questions around midfield and attack remain and if not for the utter toughness of Koscielny’s head, Arsenal could have faced their own defensive shortages. But, now that they’ve had a few days extra rest, one would expect Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Granit Xhaka to draw back in which should steady things from the Southampton struggle.
Feel Arsenal will be up for this one, Prediction: PSG 0 - 1 Arsenal
When: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 11:45AM PT/2:45PM ET/7:45PM BT
Where: Parc des Princes
Importance: It should be their toughest game so anything better than a loss is a bonus and a big step towards winning the group. Which means... whatever, it’ll be Barcelona or Bayern in the next round anyway.
Key players: Arsenal, Granit Xhaka. His control was missed against Southampton and being brought back into the squad should solidify both attack and defense.
PSG, Angel Di Maria. The battle for the midfield will always be key but, with PSG finding their best team, Di Maria’s ability to exploit Arsenal’s defense will be key to their success.
Key injuries/omissions: Everyone who was healthy is still healthy. Might miss an attacking option in Ramsey should goals not be forthcoming.
Probable starters: The big names come back in and the only questions is the coinflip on Coquelin or Elneny, so:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Kos, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin; Walcott, Özil, Alexis; Giroud
How to watch: In the US, it’s televised on FS2. In other places, and for all your online needs, livesoccer.tv.