We love the group stage of the champions league as some of the best games are being played in this competition every season. It is quite special that the two favourites of the group meet each other in the first group game, rather than in game three and four as usually is the case. PSG are yet to hit form and the same goes for us to some extent, so both teams could do with a very good match of football and three points. A good performance and a draw would also probably suit both clubs. With a bit of luck we should witness a feast of attacking football tomorrow.
For Arsenal this is an opportunity to lay down a marker in Europe, England and for ourselves. We need a good game and I reckon Wenger rested Sanchez, Giroud and Xhaka so he can field a very strong team in the capital of his home nation, even though I don’t expect Ollie to start. A good start is not crucial in this competition, but as we are playing the favourite team to win the group stage, a win tomorrow would give us a strong position to win the group eventually: an absolute necessity to get far in this year’s CL competition.
PSG like to play football and push opponents into their own half. If they do that we will have the weapons to punish them on the break. Arsene could start with Giroud and play a France national team style formation with Alexis (as a Griezmann) behind our solid Frenchman. He could also opt for pure speed up-front with Alexis as our ‘holding CF’ and with a licence for him to take on defenders left, right and centre.
I have a feeling that Giroud will have to miss out on a start in Paris. Wenger would be sentimental enough to allow Ollie to shine in their joint capital, but this is too important a game to not do the right thing. And against a team that is able to push us back into our own half, it is better to not start with a slowish holding CF. So I reckon we will start with Perez – Alexis – Theo, but would not be surprised if Iwobi gets a chance instead of Perez or Theo.
At the back, I think we will see the same GK and defenders as against the Saints. This leaves us with midfield and this is a game for Xhaka, no doubt. His ability to launch our attackers and get Ozil involved as quickly as possible, should be absolutely key tomorrow. Who shall we play next to him then: the steel of Coq or the immaculate passing of Elneny; or is Santi ready to start once again? Really hard to predict who will play in the double DM pivot, but I feel Xhaka and Elneny will get the nod, with both Coquelin and Santi coming on at some point in the second half to shore up the game and/or replace tired legs. And tired they will be tomorrow evening.
So my predicted starting eleven looks like this:
What do you think fellow Gooners: Will we win this game and is this the starting eleven to do it?