Five things we learned from Arsenal’s Champions League draw at PSG
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | September 14, 2016
Five things learned from PSG v Arsenal
Champions League Group A began with a pair of draws; the most significant of which came at the Parc des Princes.
A share of the spoils from a trip to Paris for Arsene Wenger doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The bare result rarely does.
Coral football experts watched this pool opener with interest, and here are five things learned from PSG v Arsenal. Read on as we reveal the talking points that the game has thrown up…
Cavani must be more clinical to replace Ibrahimovic
Uruguay marksman Edinson Cavani clearly didn’t like playing second-fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the three years they were the main attacking options in Paris.
More than once there were rumblings of discontent about being shunted to the wing instead of getting the nod up front. Ibrahimovic is now with Manchester United, however, and scoring for fun, so Cavani belatedly has got what he’s always wanted.
Within 45 seconds of this Group A game, he seemed to prove he could walk the walk as well as talk the talk. A clever deft header across goal and in from Serge Aurier’s centre after surging up from right back gave Cavani and PSG the lead over the Gunners.
Yet this was the only opportunity from a hatful of chances he took, wasting every other. Ibrahimovic was hardly that profligate at the Parc des Princes.
If Cavani is to fully take the goal burden on from the departed Swede, then he must be much more clinical in big games than this. When it comes to the Champions League top scorer market, odds of 16/1 say Cavani could be among the best bets to grab the Golden Boot.
Wenger opting for Ospina vindicated
When Arsenal fans saw the team news, they could be forgiven for wondering why Petr Cech was benched by Colombia keeper David Ospina. By full-time they were grateful he got the nod as a string of fine saves helped earn a point.
It’s the other side of the same coin as above with Ospina. Cavani couldn’t be clinical because he met a goalie in inspired form and Wenger’s decision to start him ahead of Cech certainly paid off.
One from the plethora of stops in the second-half made by the Gunners goalie stands out. Cavani looked to have rounded Ospina, but he somehow got something on the ball to thwart the South American striker.
Laurent Koscielny has served Arsenal well, but few fans could praise a dismal display for the France centre back in his homeland here. Caught woefully upfield for Cavani’s opening goal, the defensive pairing with Shkodran Mustafi looked shaky throughout.
Had Cavani found his shooting boots, then there would’ve further embarrassment for Gunners defender Koscielny, who uncharacteristically left his feet more than once. Such decisions are often punished at the elite level.
New boy Mustafi will take time to bed in, but needs his senior partner to play to the level he is capable for Arsenal to improve on a single clean sheet in five outings across all competitions. Gunners odds to win Champions League group a have been cut to evens.
Marquinhos moves out of Luiz’s shadow
If the defending from the away team left a lot to be desired, then the hosts looked more impressive. As well as Aurier’s assist from right back and the evergreen Maxwell down the other flank, fellow Brazilian Marquinhos made his mark here.
Often benched behind compatriots Thiago Silva and David Luiz in recent seasons, Marquinhos now has a regular first-team opening to exploit following Luiz leaving Paris to return to Chelsea.
Given the mobile Alexis Sanchez to mark, Marquinhos stuck diligently to the task and followed the roaming Chilean wherever he went.
Don’t let the fact Sanchez snaffled up the rebound to equalise from Alex Iwobi’s initial parried effort and lack of clean sheet for PSG detract from noting a dominant display by Marquinhos, which bodes well for club and country going forward.
Matuidi man-marking magnificent
Blaise Matuidi was given a specific job to do by new manager Unai Emery in this game; stop flying full back Hector Bellerin from causing havoc. Playing in a nominal left wing berth is hardly familiar for the usual France midfielder.
Perhaps best known for being an all-rounder that is able to get club and country on the front foot, Matuidi certainly limited Bellerin’s breaks forward in this fixture.
That willingness to do a job out of position already shows the respect Emery has from his players at PSG, and that they are buying into his ideas.
What does Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer think about Arsenal and the other English clubs in the Champions League? Hear his views below:
You’ll also find more Champions League features like this one on our dedicated page.