ARSENAL 2 VS PSG 2: HONORS EVEN AT EMIRATES AS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LEADERSHIP TUSSLE GOES TO THE WIRE
Barring a miracle Arsenal will finish second in their Champions League.
And the Gunners only have themselves to blame. Of course, the benefits of finishing first or second are open to conjecture. why? there doesn’t appear to be a team you can point to as easy awaiting in the R16, whether you finish 1st or 2nd in the group
As it stands, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are among the sides Arsenal could face in the last 16.
Equally, as things stand, they’ll avoid Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Rock and a hard place springs to mind.
But if Arsenal are unlucky enough to pull another nightmare last 16 clash, it’ll be their own fault.
Albeit fortuitously, they were on course to guarantee top spot taking a 2-1 lead against Paris Saint Germain.
But they imploded, conceding a crucial equaliser, via a cruel Alex Iwobi deflection, with just 13 minutes left to play.
On the face of it, 2-2 against PSG isn’t the worst night’s work. The goal, though, was a dagger to the heart of Arsenal’s hopes for topping Group A.
Thanks to the draw, the Ligue 1 club now have a superior head-to-head record over the Gunners following the 1-1 draw back in Paris on match-day one.
Arsenal must now hope for PSG to suffer a shock loss to European minnows Ludogorets and beat Basel on December 4 to take pole position.
Arsene Wenger’s frustration, though, shouldn’t detract from this match as a spectacle.
With both teams already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages, the fear was this clash would turn out to be a damp squib.
Absolutely no chance. What. A. Game. Goals, scuffles and comedy own goals; you name it, this game had it.
For much of the game, however, Arsenal simply weren’t at the races. Looking decidedly off the pace and Flat just like they did for most of the United game at the weekend.
Kieran Gibbs had already cleared off the line before PSG took a deserved lead in the 18th minute.
Thiago Motta was afforded too much time to pick out Blaise Matuidi’s run down the right flank, leaving Carl Jenkinson and Shkodran Mustafa in his wake.
Matuidi’s contribution was clinical, a perfect pass across the face of goal that Edinson Cavani slid home.
It was no more than Arsenal deserved. This was sloppy from a team that has started the season with such menace.
Somehow, Arsenal went in level. Inevitably, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were the instigators.
Ozil found his Chilean colleague with a beautiful reverse pass and as Sanchez shaped to shoot he instead sold a dummy that the sliding Krychowiak bought hook, line and sinker.
Sanchez fell to the ground after being clipped by Krychowiak as referee Felix Brych duly pointed to the spot.
It looked a certain penalty to the naked eye; but PSG players were incensed.
Both sets of teams clashed, within the scuffle Cavani aiming a punch at Aaron Ramsey.
And on second viewing, PSG had a point. At the very least Sanchez was streetwise, looking for the vital touch from Krychowiak instead of proceeding with an effort on goal.
Not that it mattered to Giroud, who fired Arsenal level from the spot with virtually the final kick of the half.
Lucas Moura’s 54th minute free kick that hit the bar nearly provided a perfect riposte for the French champions.
But six minutes later PSG were behind in comical and largely fortuitous circumstances.
Marquinhos thought he had temporarily averted the threat, clearing Ramsey’s shot from Jenkinson’s cross.
Split seconds later though, Arsenal were ahead as his attempted clearance ricocheted off team-mate Verratti to divert the ball past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
No wonder Wenger was smiling, he couldn’t believe his luck.
Nor could PSG, who were denied a penalty shout in the 63rd minute as Cavani, rather theatrically, fell after minimal contact from Koscielny.
But the visitors weren’t to be denied a precious equaliser. David Ospina looked to have Moura’s back post header covered, only for the ball to deflect off Alex Iwobi’s head and past the Colombian keeper.
Had Cavani not opted for an audacious chip instead of putting his foot through the ball in the 79th minute then Arsenal would have been on their back.
Instead, their attempt to finish top of Group A is still on. Just.
Just as we said above the possibility of finishing Top can still see you paired with Dortmund or Madrid, or Bayern Munich who are currently 2nd their group. The luck of the draw is something that can spring suprises. Next game is Dec 4