Thursday 15 September 2016

From Paris With Draw

I enjoy going away with Arsenal especially visiting iconic stadiums, meeting fellow Arsenal fans, sharing football opinions, dissecting the match and expressing our hopes and aspirations for the next match and the club.

I grabbed the opportunity to watch the PSG v Arsenal match with both hands. Fortunately I still had a few days holiday left at work. I was initially going to drive but decided against this, as I didn’t want to drive back to England with all the issues around Calais. So it was a short flight across the channel and a crawl during rush hour to the Parc Des Princes.

Security was somewhat tight. Not as tight as I expected it to be. Although the Police looked like they were expecting fan clashes. I wonder why.

Arsenal fans were in fine voice as usual. “WE ALL HATE TOTTENHAM” “WE WON THE LEAGUE AT SHITE HART LANE” and we are the only team to go “49 49 UNDEFEATED PLAYING FOOTBALL THE ARSENAL WAY” & of course “WE HAVE OZIL” we sang to our hearts content   :) 

I was very wary of this fixture when he draws were made. Yes it is a lot better than been drawn with either Barcelona or Bayern but PSG are a very good side and are in the next level down from Barcelona, Bayern and both Madrid clubs.

As match day neared and looking at PSG’s injury list and shaky start in Ligue 1, I thought we might have a chance against them. Although in discussing with a few Arsenal fans before the match, we were ready to shake hands on a draw. In fact some went to the extent of saying they won’t mind the result as long as the boys gave a decent account of themselves which rhymed somewhat with my belief that if we wanted to be taken serious as a team, we should never be at the end of a drubbing by any side.

I don’t share in the pre match 'gumpf' surrounding the manager’s selection. Ospina is a top quality goalkeeper for me. In my observation, there is no difference in our performance if Ospina or Cech is in goal. From memory, the results on the pitch do not show any difference as well. Undoubtedly, Cech has a reach advantage but Ospina is as good a goalkeeper as Cech. I think pundits or fans who query the manager’s selection of Ospina in any match are disrespectful of the Manager’s judgment, Ospina’s abilities and are clearly ignorant as they have no way of knowing what the manager sees in training which also applies to criticism of the manager playing Alexis as a striker.

In 4 matches, yes Alexis has a striker has worked once. I get that. BUT THE MANAGER SEES THEM IN TRAINING DAILY. He knows what he has. He perhaps understands PSG, and our other opponents and football better than any of us, better than Gary Neville, Piers Morgan, any football pundit and any other disdainful type on social media. So please give him a break on his selection.

 The match itself got off to the worst possible start as we conceded in 44 seconds. Even the Arsenal Twitter handler appeared upset with his “44 seconds” tweet :) 

Nervousness, lack of concentration whatever it was. We shouldn’t be conceding like that in any match. There was no pressure applied to Aurier before he crossed the ball, there was no attempt to put off Cavani when he jumped to head the ball and I would have thought that an instinctive keeper had a chance of parrying the Cavani header because it was always going to go towards the direction where he scored.

We had a few players who didn’t play well, All the players named Alex were sub par. Oxlade - Chamberlain didn’t get many chances to take on opponents, both him and Iwobi didn’t handle their defensive duties well leaving Hector & Monreal exposed. Iwobi was gassing at some point in both halves. As usual Sanchez attempted too many unsuccessful take - ons when the simple pass was on. He truly does have a Messi complex. Ozil was lukewarm and I was very upset when he appeared to be gesturing that his colleagues weren’t doing enough. There were too many touches going astray in the final 3rd, as it appears the boys are yet to gel this season. 

When I looked at the BBC Twitter timeline during half time, it appears PSG were targeting the right side of Arsenal defence. I think this was principally because of Mustafi (new in the team and definitely the weaker of the two central defenders) and possibly the fact that Bellerin wasn’t getting any support from the player in front of him.

As most people have said, we played better in the 2nd half. We pressed better and got a goal. Yes we could have won it with the Iwobi miss but many who complain fail to recognize what a damn good side those PSG players are. And man for man, technically better than Arsenal players. This is an expensively assembled squad; PSG starting 11 cost in excess of £240m and were able to bring on a c£42m perpetual bench warmer in the 2nd half while the Arsenal squad was approximately £160m.

PSG are definitely a team very much the victim of their own football philosophy of what I can interpret as always wanting to play beautiful football.  Many times, they got the ball in favorable position and instead of driving forward, they took one more touch, dribbled sideways to show their technical superiority over the Arsenal players and they capped this with some absolute piss poor conversion rates from scoring opportunities.

Many have made fun and ridiculed Cavani for his misses on the night. Please let me add Di Maria to that List of Dishonourables. I’m not surprised that he couldn’t fit in at United and was deemed surplus to requirement by Real Madrid. He was equally as culpable as Cavani for PSG scoring only one goal.

It definitely was a happy Arsenal camp after the match. I had great view of the pitch; it was the closest I had been to the pitch in all the away matches I have been to. Their fans are passionate but where they when their club was PAUVRES  :)

I am happy to have ticked that visit of my list. Next stop – Nottingham Forest City Ground. I can’t wait to see the future first teamers and other squad players next week. Hopefully we will arrive in Nottingham after a positive result from Hull.

Come on Arsenal 

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