Arsenal will enter a 19th consecutive season of Champions League football tonight when they take on Paris Saint-Germain, and Arsene Wenger’s men can set themselves up very nicely in Group A if they can take a point or three away from the French capital.
A favourable group draw has the Gunners realistically looking at top spot, especially with their toughest game up first.
Wenger’s team selection for Saturday’s 2-1 win over Southampton alluded to tonight’s European opening, with Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud starting on the bench at the weekend.
The pair were required in the final half an hour, but with slightly fresher legs, and the news that Laurent Koscielny looks set to shake off a facial injury, the Gunners should be close to full strength at the Parc des Princes.
Given the French champions’ start this season however, it may be wise to swerve the hosts.
After romping to the title last season by 31 points, Les Parisiens lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer, and now sit seventh in Ligue 1, failing to win their last two fixtures.
Unai Emery has replaced Laurent Blanc in the hotseat, and the club were oddly quiet in the transfer window, failing to sign a big-name star.
Their biggest signing of the off-season, Jese, has failed to shine, while Hatem ben Arfa isn’t in the squad for tongiht’s clash.
And then Emery has defensive concerns to deal with, as stalwart Thiago Silva has yet to feature this season due to a hip-injury. The French champions also have injuries at both full-back positions.
Back in the Arsenal camp, and the north Londoners will be going all out to ensure they don’t repeat the nightmare start of 12 months ago when they lost their first three group games and it’s 3/1 they go through this year’s group unbeaten.
Having kept only one clean sheet this season, however, the 6/1 on Arsenal to win and both teams to score could also prove popular.
Shkodran Mustafi’s impressive debut on Saturday will have soothed Wenger’s nerves about defensive cover, and the Frenchman can call upon four quality central midfielders tonight.
After a ropey start to the season with a 4-3 loss to Liverpool, Arsenal hop across the Channel on the back of successive victories and will be heading into tonight’s fixture rightly confident of getting a result against a troubled PSG side.
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