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Alexis snatches Arsenal a point against PSG but he isn't a striker

match preview psg arsenal champions league

Match Review: PSG 1 Arsenal 1 - Champions League 13.09.16

Arsenal certainly don’t make things comfortable for us. But as much as it hasn’t been great fun watching Arsenal over the last few weeks, they have managed to pull out the results and make no mistake, getting a point from by far the hardest game in the group is an excellent start. We don’t play PSG at home until the penultimate game of the group, giving us a chance to bank the bulk of our points at home to Basel and home and away to Ludogorets.

There was surprise and a fair amount of consternation at the announcement of the Arsenal team, as the three changes that were made were far from the ones expected. Ospina started in goal over Cech and Alexis took over from Perez up front, with Giroud and more surprisingly Xhaka left on the bench. The other change saw Walcott drop out of the squad with a knock and be replaced by Iwobi.

I really don’t understand what Wenger is doing with Xhaka at the moment. He has already shown he’s an excellent player and got a full ninety minutes against Watford, so he’s not lacking fitness. Coquelin is a good player, he has his limitations, but he did an excellent job at the weekend against Southampton. However, in a big game against a big side, you want your best midfield out there to give you a decent foothold in the game and that’s exactly what we didn’t have. Coquelin and Cazorla struggled to assert any measure of control, although conceding within a minute of the start probably didn’t help.

For once, Monreal was caught out for the goal. The usually rock solid left back went to sleep and allowed Aurier to get in behind him and when he recovered, he failed to close Aurier down and stop the cross. Mustafi was the other guilty party, allowing Cavani to drift off the back of him and score from a free header.

The first half was all PSG after that, we were all over the shop and looking lost. One of the significant problems was the lack of a presence up front. Alexis is a wonderful player, but so many of his best attributes are negated by playing him up front on his own. He needs space to run at people and the freedom to roam about the pitch. When he’s playing up front, we don't have a focal point to build around and it has been painfully obvious over the first few weeks of the season. I don’t know why Giroud has been dropped, but I hope he’s restored sooner rather than later.

As if any more proof was needed about Alexis needing to play on the wing, he was the man to grab the equaliser soon after he was moved to the left. Giroud replaced Chamberlain on 63 minutes, as our performance produced dramatically in the second half. I’d even go as far as to say that we were the better team for a lot of it, but we were struggling to test the keeper. Ospina was still having to make big saves to deny PSG and Cavani, but we had long periods of sustained pressure. Once Giroud was on and Alexis was back in his natural position it was only a quarter of an hour before we got the goal.

Özil, who had had a quiet game up to that point, made the goal with a gorgeous cut back cross to Iwobi, who did well to control and shoot, but saw the shot parried by the keeper. However, Alexis was following in off the left and smashed the ball home to draw us level. It might have been a bit smash and grab, but that’s what people always tell us we need to be able to do.

With all the hand wringing over his selection, we also owed a huge amount to the performance of David Ospina. He produced some brilliant saves from Cavani, who also aided us with his inability to finish his dinner, especially in a number of one on one situations. He gets a lot of stick and I’d still rather see Cech in goal, but you have to acknowledge an excellent performance when you see one.

The next time we play PSG, it is not too mad to suggest that both of us could be on ten points. We have consecutive home games against Basel and Ludogorets, before our away trip to the latter, while PSG go to Ludogorets, before their double against Basel. Neither Basel or Ludogorets should cause much of a problem, so it’s reasonable to assume that the home tie against PSG could decide who tops the group. In the meantime, away trips to Hull and Forest beckon, with Chelsea at home looming on the horizon. The results are coming despite the performances, but I hope we get both sooner rather than later.

alexis scores arsenal goal against psg in champions league


PSG (4-5-1)

Areola, Aurier (Meunier 84’), Marquinhos, Silva, Maxwell, Rabiot (Motta 74’ (Y)), Verratti (Y/R), Krychowiak (Pastore 79’), Di Maria, Matuidi, Cavani
Trapp, Kimpembe, Lucas, Motta, Pastore, Meunier, Jese

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Coquelin (Y) (Xhaka 71’), Cazorla, Chamberlain (Giroud 63’ (Y/R)), Özil (Elneny 85’), Iwobi, Alexis
Cech, Holding, Elneny, Xhaka, Gibbs, Perez, Giroud

Player Ratings

Ospina - 8/10 - An excellent performance, save for one nervy clearance
Bellerin - 7/10 - A good showing from the right back
Mustafi - 6/10 - Made a mistake for the goal, but rallied to have a decent game after
Koscielny - 7/10 - Looks to be adjusting to having Mustafi as his partner
Monreal - 6/10 - Didn’t get much cover from Iwobi, but made a mistake for the goal
Coquelin - 6/10 - Not sure he knew what role he was meant to be playing
Cazorla - 7/10 - Held his own, but would be best paired with Xhaka
Chamberlain - 6/10 - Another lacklustre showing
Özil - 7/10 - Not at his best, but still popped up to create the equaliser
Iwobi - 6/10 - Needs to cover back better, missed a very good chance to win it too
Alexis - 7/10 - Lost until he moved to the wing and took the goal well
Giroud - 6/10 - Somehow managed to get himself sent off
Xhaka - 7/10 - We just look a better team with him
Elneny - N/A

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Tags: Champions League, Alexis, PSG vs Arsenal

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