Arsenal couldn’t have thought of a better way to prepare for their big night in Paris than a very-very fortunate win against Southampton which would surely have helped their mental strength gain a gargantuan boost, and what a time for that to happen. Arsenal are famous (or infamous) for their notoriously slow starts to a UEFA Champions League campaign, like the one the last time around as they lost their first two group games to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos before “just” making it to the round of 16.
Arsenal can’t afford such complacency yet again. They have probably got an easier group than they did last year, which gives them a really good chance of finishing as group winners and avoiding a team like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the next round. In a way, winning a group could realistically mean a place in the quarter-final, a stage they haven’t reached in six straight seasons, but that’s too far away at the moment and all Arsene Wenger has to focus on is getting a positive result against Paris Saint-Germain – whatever that may mean.
Unai Emery’s Parisian adventure hasn’t got off to the best of starts with “just” two wins in four matches (lost to AS Monaco and drew against ASES) which is bad news when you are a Ligue 1 side. The defence in particular has been a major issue (PSG have conceded four goals in their last two games) following the departure of David Luiz, who, despite being erratic himself was an integral part of Laurent Blanc’s side. Similarly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s transfer has had an impact up front as well.
Arsenal have themselves had an ordinary start to the season, though two contrasting wins against Watford and Southampton have got them back on track to cope with the pressure of a big game against a, at least momentarily, unsettled and unassured side. Safe to say, recent performances suggest it could be the North Londoners’ night but the question is, will it be?
“They will be continue to be the dominant team in France but they lost more than a player with Ibrahimovic,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“He was the leader, the captain, a charismatic carrier of the ambition of the club and it’s always difficult to measure when you lose a player of that stature, how big the damage is.
“At the moment they have also changed managers so they are trying to find their feet at the moment.”