Arsenal drew PSG 1-1 in Paris, earning a valuable point, in the first round of the Champions League. A point away against PSG is a good result in any scenario. The Gunners would be happy with getting the crucial away goal, but would feel, their performance should have been better. Arsene Wenger has received some criticism for his team selection and tactics. He did acknowledge his mistakes by sending on Olivier Giroud and Granit Xhaka in the second half, and it paid off.
PSG would feel they missed the chance to win the game comfortably. Edinson Cavani scored in the first minute but missed many chances to get his side the win.
Here are four things we learned from the game.
Alexis Sanchez is wasted up-front
In the opening game against Liverpool, Alexis Sanchez’s performance proved he is not a striker and is a spent force in the position. The PSG game reiterated the same. Sanchez cannot lead the attack from the centre. Putting him in that position makes the player less threatening overall. While Sanchez’s continuous pressing was able to limit PSG’s ability to play out from the back, Arsenal failed to commit enough bodies to aid the Chilean. Sanchez didn’t get a shot off in the first half and lost possession 21 times, more than any other Arsenal player. For 70 minutes, Sanchez played centrally, but couldn’t do much damage against Thiago Silva and Marquinhos. As soon as Giroud was brought on, Sanchez moved out wide and was threatening once again.
Why is Giroud not starting?
As mentioned before, Arsenal struggled to do anything significant in the first hour or so with the attack not doing the requisite damage. Alexis Sanchez is not a false nine, and Arsenal craved a central striker. When Giroud came on, things began to look more encouraging for the Gunners. The Frenchman can bring others into play, and this was on display. Sanchez scored a stunning goal after the striker was brought in. After a successful outing with France in summer, Giroud has only played 67 minutes for Arsenal in total this season. Despite a needless red card which will see him missing the game against Ludogorets at home, he looks ready to contend for a starting spot against Hull this weekend.
Serge Aurier has put his controversial past behind
Serge Aurier is rebuilding his reputation after being banished from the first team last season for his Periscope controversy when he was seen aiming homophobic slurs at former manager Laurent Blanc.
The 23-year-old’s runs on the flanks made him a huge threat throughout the game. His good defensive performance allowed Di Maria to have full freedom to roam freely on the right flank. He has always been rated for being a threat offensively, and against Arsenal, his delivery caused a constant problem for Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi. It was his brilliant cross that accurately picked out Cavani in the first minute for the opener.
Unai Emery needs to show why he was right to replace Blanc
Emery left his Sevilla job after he was pursued by PSG to replace Laurent Blanc. Emery’s European record speaks for itself. He managed to win three Europa League titles with the Spanish side, in three consecutive years, which is frankly incredible. PSG has won everything in the last few years bar the Champions League. The reason their Qatari owners decided to part ways with Blanc was that he didn’t get success in Europe. Emery’s primary job is to get the side exactly that. Of course, it will take him time to do the same, but in modern day football, owners and fans expect quick results. It may just be five games in total, but three draws, a loss and just one win doesn’t bode too well for the Spaniard.