Arsene Wenger surprised many by selecting Kieran Gibbs over Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi for Mohamed Elneny, and Olivier Giroud ahead of Theo Walcott. That meant positional changes for Ramsey and Alexis. One can only assume that Theo was considered close to the much-discussed ‘red zone’. David Ospina came in as the Champions League goalkeeper. The starting eleven had more of an attacking feel to it than a ‘hold and hit them on the break’ setup.
In the opening exchanges space and time were at a premium as both sides looked to press the other when in possession. The first big chance was handed to the visitors from a fourteenth minute corner when a deflected header from the unmarked Cavani was kicked off the line by Gibbs. Three minutes later Cavani got his inevitable goal when again he arrived unaccompanied at the far post for a tap-in from Matuidi’s cross.
Arsenal 0-1 PSG
Arsenal’s carelessness in possession in the minutes that followed made for worrying viewing. When we did keep the ball at this stage of the game we saw a lot of slow, sideways passing with no end product. PSG were also cute, and Marquinhos took a yellow for the team when he prevented Alexis from joining an attempted breakout in the Gunners half. The match was looking very similar to the one in Paris on match day one.
Unsurprisingly Francis Coquelin was next to be carded for a nasty challenge on Motta with little over half an hour gone. He will now be suspended for the last day trip to Basel. On rare forays into enemy territory The Arsenal floundered on the rock that is Thiago Motta. A couple of weak penalty appeals aside we were unable engineer any attempts on goal until a strong penalty appeal was granted when Alexis was tripped by Krychowiak. With the last kick of the half Giroud converted our first attempt of the night from the spot.
Arsenal 1-1 PSG
The break, and whatever was said in it, led to a different looking Arsenal start the second-half with much more intent than had been displayed in the first forty-five minutes. Alexis and Mesut Ozil were setting the example, both sprinting to apply pressure on the PSG defence. However the visitors were doing the same and when Laurent Koscielny surrendered the ball he was booked for the resulting foul on Lucas. The victim thumped the free-kick against the crossbar with Ospina beaten.
Verratti was next in the book when he cynically pulled down Alexis as the Arsenal battled back. Carl Jenkinson’s cross found Giroud beyond the far post and the Frenchman’s on-target effort was blocked by Marquinhos. Astonishingly we were ahead when another Jenkinson cross saw Aaron Ramsey’s blocked effort turned in by the unfortunate Verratti.
Arsenal 2-1 PSG
Cavani’s blatant dive earned him neither a penalty nor a yellow card, somewhat surprisingly, as the visitors threatened an immediate response. Ben Arfa, once of Newcastle and Hull was introduced for Krychowiak to strengthen their attacking options. We threatened a third when Alexis just failed to connect with Ramsey at the far post. PSG were denied by a brave Ospina as Cavani lurked with menace.
The reprieve was temporary. From a corner Lucas dropped behind Jenkinson at the far post and Iwobi at the post could only help his header into his own net. The ‘holic pound was lost with thirteen minutes remaining.
Arsenal 2-2 PSG
Ospina again denied the unmarked Cavani on the break. The goalkeeper didn’t deserve to have two put past him. Ramsey’s attempted response drifted wide. Walcott, Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were introduced as Arsenal sought the winner in the closing stages. That created space for the visitors to attempt to exploit. Cavani’s diving header took a coat of paint off the far post. The second-half was as compelling as the first had been embarrassing.
And then it was over with a sense of anti-climax. PSG need only to beat Ludogorets as their away goals in the head to heads with us gives them the advantage. Our superior goal difference is but a secondary consideration in this competition. Still, November is almost at an end and somehow we remain unbeaten since the opening day of the season in all competitions.
That is something to cling to and when we do hit form again we will be in healthy shape.
Art of Football teeshirt competition
A reminder, if one is needed, that two Art of Football Arsenal teeshirts are ‘up for grabs now’ in this post. It’s almost your last chance to enter so get your entries in before it is too late, and good luck. The result will be announced on Thursday evening, and if you are unlucky in the draw you will still be able to get a 20% discount from Art of Football on this Black Friday.
Get your entries in before you forget. Cheers all.