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Paris Saint-Germain vs. Arsenal – Reaction

Wednesday 14th September 2016
Before a ball was kicked, there were murmurs of unrest – Arsenal fans unsure of Wenger's squad selection, although in the end he was vindicated, wasn't he? After all, they got a point from what is likely to be the most challenging game in the group.

David Ospina was the shock inclusion in the line-up; having not featured for the Gunners since April, when he had an interesting game against West Ham which ended 3-3. Despite the wave of social media anarchy, the Colombian keeper proved his worth being arguably Arsenal's best player on the pitch – keeping them in the game by himself at some points.
The game started in lamentable fashion for the North Londoners, a mere forty-two seconds into the game they had conceded to a PSG goal. The early move was a product of a long ball from Ángel Di María which found Aurier, who crossed a perfect ball for Edison Cavani to head the ball home for a 1-0 advantage very early into the campaign. Cavani would continue getting in front of goal, but either missed open goals or was subject to Ospina's excellent display.

Wenger in his pre-match media activity stated that this season his squad has matured and is less likely to wilt in big game situations or in losing positions. Wise words from the Frenchman, as Arsenal came good on their manager's words. Classically, under the bright lights of European football – going down early, Arsenal's heads would drop and the side would invite pressure and probably lose by quite a few goals. This side looked assertive and determined, despite being behind from very early on.

The French champions were very rigid in defence and didn't allow Arsenal many chances in the first half, as Verratti and Rabiot made a lot forward play especially for Cavani – yet the Gunners didn't allow them a second goal and stayed in the game themselves; as aforementioned Ospina played a pivotal part in this.

The second half came and the Parisians had seemed to have tired after a resilient and pressing first half, allowing Arsenal into the game a lot more. Yet for all their effort, the English representative side still couldn't get on the scoresheet. Come the 63rd minute, Olivier Giroud was introduced into the game for more firepower. Eight minutes later, still trailing, uncharacteristically Wenger makes another sub – this time, yellow carded Coquelin for the exuberant, Granit Xhaka. Although neither had an immediate impact and fifteen minutes from time, Lucas Pérez was hovering on the touchline waiting to come on… that was until of course, the seventy-seventh minute when Alexis Sanchez scored the equaliser for Arsenal. A stand-out moment for the Gunners, they had salvaged their way back into a big-game situation something they are not used to.
Wenger's three-pronged attacked proposal was quickly quashed at the site of a 1-1 scoreboard and the team adopted a more conservative approach as Elneny took to the pitch for the final five minutes, whilst Lucas Pérez found himself sitting back on the bench probably getting his boarding pass ready for inspection for the flight home.  Neither side wanted to lose the game after the equaliser and both teams forward play was subtle after the Chilean essentially put the game to bed, honours even.

Before time though an incident occurred involving Olivier Giroud and Marco Verratti, minimal contact between the two players ensued. A moment of tempers and afters, yet altogether handbags at dawn. The referee, who hadn't even been looking at the players deemed the non-event a bookable offence for both parties. Both players had previously been yellow-carded so both left the pitch before the final whistle. Not the greatest way to end the match for either side.

In all, a good evening for Arsenal and their supporters. This in the undoubtedly hardest fixture in the group and to get something out it will provide comfort. Given the situation and the timeline of the game, Arsenal fans should be happy with the result and more so the performance. The Arsenal of recent seasons gone by would not have been so fruitful in these high profile games. The ultra-pessimistic and critical fans will have the valid point that the team shouldn't be conceding so early in the game, but this can be forgiven considering it's the first night of the campaign and the quality of the opposition. It can be written off this time, but not every time. Arsenal's next game will be on home soil against FC Basel later in the month who also drew 1-1 in their first game.
Warren Smith

A British and J.League soccer enthusiast, now local to Yokohama, Japan. A keen Arsenal supporter. Has been known to play the game every once in awhile, once likened to Xherdan Shaqiri. 


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