Arsenal vs PSG Preview: Both sides eager to top the group

Arsenal vs PSG Preview: Both sides eager to top the group

Arsenal take on PSG on Wednesday, a game that will could determine who tops Group A in this season's Champions League.

Matt Dawson

For Arsenal, this match up represents their best chance in an alarmingly long time to top their Champions League group. However it won't be easy, as they welcome Paris Saints-Germain to the Emirates on Wednesday evening where a win for either side will secure their place at the top of Group A.

The Gunners have hit a bit of a stutter in the Premier League, with successive draws against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. However they showed resilience in those games, as they did in the reverse fixture in Paris, but Arsene Wenger's men will have to play better if they are to earn a victory. Their results against the bigger sides this season though should bring them confidence against the French Champions, who haven't started their domestic league in the best of form. 

Chance to top the group

Arsenal and PSG have been no match for their other opponents in the group so far with FC Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad sitting on a point each after defeats in three of their four matches. For the former however, they both sit on top of the group on 10 points, after beating their group rivals and drawing with each other on match day one.

This game has more significance though despite that the fact that both teams have already qualified for the knock-out stages. A win for either side would confirm their place at the top of the group due to their head-to-head record rather than goal difference, as the ruling goes in the Champions League.

PSG have been rather disappointing this season, and therefore Arsenal have every chance of hopefully setting up an easier last 16 tie in the new year. Compared to previous years when the Gunners have had the likes of Bayern Munich in their group this one has been slightly kinder to them, and after rescuing a 1-1 draw in the Parc des Princes in September when Alexis Sanchez scored the equaliser, playing at home should present a brilliant opportunity to achieve a big win. 

Much has been made of Arsenal's traditional traumatic November period, and indeed the results this month haven't been fantastic, but PSG at home it is a great chance to put that hoodoo behind them, and qualify as group winners with a game to spare. 

Improvement needed

Arsenal are missing a couple of players at the moment, but they will have to improve on their current form if they're to beat PSG. Although losing just once since a defeat in the Nou Camp in the Champions League in March, they've haltered somewhat with three draws in their last four games after going on a previous impressive winning streak. Their last European outing against Ludogorets away from home was far from comfortable, going two goals down before coming back rather brilliantly to win 3-2.

PSG meanwhile have seemingly bounced back after a slow start to the new campaign as they look to defend their Ligue 1 crown again. They've won four out of their last five games, including a late 2-1 win over Basel during the last Champions League matchday when full-back Thomas Meunier won the game in the last minute.

Therefore both teams will be hoping for a less dramatic game this Wednesday, but as two of the better teams in Europe meet it should be a hugely intriguing and close encounter.

Team news

David Ospina is set to take over the gloves from Petr Cech in goal, as has been the case for every one of Arsenal's Champions League games this season, so Gunners fans will be hoping that he can produce a similar sort of performance to the one seen in France when he made a string of great saves to keep his side in the game. 

Santi Cazorla however remains out injured, and the worry is that not even Wenger knows when he'll be back yet which is a major blow for the side. Lucas Perez is nearing a return and is back in training but is not ready to make a come back yet.

Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey weren't involved in full training on Tuesday but should be alright to play a part against PSG. Aside from that the same players that were available against Man United are set to be in the squad. Hector Bellerin is also still out so Carl Jenkinson will start at right back again. 

As for the visitors they also have their own injury problems, as both of their first choice full-backs will miss the game. Layvin Kurzawa is out injured whilst Serge Aurier has controversially been refused entry to the UK. The home office have stated that immigration rules for non-EU nationals who have received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months within the last five months will be refused entry, so the Ivorian will therefore play no part on Wednesday night.

It represents a sudden blow for the French side, who will be without one of their stand-out men from their 1-1 draw with Arsenal earlier this season. 

Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot will also miss the game through injury, whilst Angel Di Maria could miss the fixture after picking up an injury in his side's 2-0 win over Nantes at the weekend.