Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain go head-to-head this midweek with top spot in Group A of this season’s Champions League up for grabs (7.45pm Wednesday on BT Sport 3).
The Gunners go into this encounter in first place in their qualifying segment after a come-from-behind victory over Ludogorets last time out. The Bulgarians stormed into a 2-0 lead in front of their own supporters in Razgrad, but a stunning solo goal from Mesut Ozil (pictured) in the closing stages secured a 3-2 triumph for the visitors.
Arsenal will certainly have to improve on the display they turned in at the weekend, when they were lucky to escape Old Trafford with a 1-1 draw. They were second best to Manchester United for long periods, but they have generally done so far this term and will be confident of taking Unai Emery’s charges’ scalp on Wednesday evening. The Gunners are 20/1 shots in the champions league outright winner odds with the bookies.
PSG are used to have everything their own way in French domestic football, but that has not really been the case this year. After 13 rounds of matches, they sit third in the table – behind Monaco on goal difference and surprise leaders Nice by three points. The transition from former boss Laurent Blanc to successor Emery certainly could have been smoother, while the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer also robbed the team of their star man and focal point at the top of the pitch.
While PSG are still widely expected to secure another championship this season, it is clear that Europe is their primary focus. They will therefore approach this game with the mindset of wanting to win, particularly as the victors will almost certainly take top spot in Group A.
Arsene Wenger will be unable to call upon the services of Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck, Lucas Perez, Per Mertesacker and Chuba Akpom, while Santi Cazorla also looks set to miss out with an Achilles problem. Alex Iwobi could return to the XI after being left out against Manchester United, while Olivier Giroud is also pushing for a start following his fine headed equaliser at the weekend. In the absence of Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny are the four men competing for the two spots in central midfield.
Emery will be forced to make do without Angel di Maria, Javier Pastore, Adrien Rabiot and Alphonse Areola for their trip to London. Edinson Cavani will lead the line ahead of Lucas Moura and Jese on the flanks, with three of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi and Grzegorz Krychowiak making up the midfield trio in Emery’s favoured 4-3-3 formation. At the back, Thiago Silva will be partnered by fellow Brazil international Marquinhos at centre-half, with Serge Aurier and Maxwell set to be deployed on either side of the duo.
Our Preview’s Arsenal v PSG Betting Tips Verdict
Arsenal were extremely fortunate to avoid defeat when these two teams met at the Parc des Princes in September, with the Ligue 1 champions frequently carving them open and creating a whole host of chances. The Gunners have solidified their defensive unit since then and should be in a better position to make things more difficult for last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists. PSG were denied all three points against Arsenal earlier this year solely because of their profligacy in front of goal.
On this occasion, it is probably worth backing Arsenal to come out on top. The Gunners have played the better football so far this season and have the attacking incision to cause PSG plenty of problems, while Emery’s side may struggle to cope with the hosts’ intensity. In the anytime goalscorer market, Cavani – who has found the back of the net 15 times in the same number of appearances in all competitions this term – could be worth a wager.
So, in the battle against the top bookies, this preview’s betting tips are: