Having foregone their usual qualifier process, thanks to last season’s second-place league finish, Arsenal will open their Champions League campaign with an away fixture against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
On Saturday against Southampton, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger rested several key players with an eye towards Tuesday’s clash with the French champions. Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Granit Xhaka all started on the bench in the narrow 2-1 triumph over the Saints.
Laurent Koscielny scored a dazzling equalizer in that match, later taking a boot to the face for his efforts.But the Frenchman is expected to recover in time for Tuesday and will likely again start in tandem with new signing Shkrodan Mustafi at the center of the Arsenal defense.
Fellow new signing Lucas Perez had an anonymous debut against Southampton and against PSG Wenger is expected to reinstate Giroud to the starting lineup at forward. The France striker was brought on as a sub against Southampton and provided an element of danger that had been lacking with Perez up front.
Sanchez meanwhile, is a certain starter as Arsenal prepare to lineup against PSG for the first time since 1994. After a slow start to the season Arsenal have been improving, with two wins in their last two matches, and will look to continue their momentum against the French powerhouse.
PSG on the other hand, have found it rather more difficult as the club looks to kick on from the Zlatan Ibrahimovic era. After winning their first two Ligue 1 matches under new manager Unai Emery, Les Parisiens lost away to Monaco right before the international break and were held to a draw at home by St. Etienne on Friday.
But despite losing Ibrahimovic, the French champions still have a squad that’s among the best in Europe and will be slight favorites playing at home against the side that finished as runner up in the Premier League. The match is expected to see the return of captain Thiago Silva who has not featured for PSG since their win over Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup back in July.
Tuesday’s match also presents an intriguing match-up of managers with Wenger and Emery both huge proponents of attacking, pass and possession based football. Emery in particular is known for his attention to detail ahead of matches and his squad will undoubtedly have been subjected to extensive screening of footage of Arsenal as well as the USB drives he reportedly hands out to first team players containing information on the strengths and weaknesses of their direct opponent in upcoming matches.
On paper, there really isn’t much to separate the two sides in terms of talent. Despite PSG’s home field advantage, Arsenal have shown a knack over the years for going into away fixtures against top-tier continental clubs and coming away with results.
The game will provide viewers the chance to see two of the Champions League’s current heavyweights go toe-to-toe early in the competition and promises to be high on entertainment value, regardless of the result.
Don’t miss Paris Saint-Germain taking on Arsenal this Tuesday, September 13 at 2:45pm ET on FS2.