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Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Arsenal: The Quest For In-Season Form

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 12: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at the Parc des Princes before the press conference for their UEFA Champions League, Group Stage match against Paris Saint Germain on September 12, 2016 in Paris, . (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

One of the marquee showdowns of Match Day 1 in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League Group Stage is on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal Football Club visit to take on Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in a key Group A showdown.

It is a match between two teams with two different forms. Last season, Arsenal finished second in the 2015-16 Premier League with a commendable record of 20-11-7 (71 points). One of a few teams fortunate to not only defeat Leicester City, the Gunners were also the only team to take all six points away from Claudio Ranieri’s side last season.

Arsenal have had an average start to the season, with a 2-1-1 record in Premier League play but have picked things up the past two weeks with victories over Watford away (3-1) and Southhampton at Emirates Stadium (2-1). Santi Cazorla is the club’s leading goalscorer with two goals in the league. One player that could be a game-time decision for Arsenal is Laurent Koscielny, who took a knock against the Saints but recovered and is available for selection.

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Arsenal’s average form is similar to that of Paris Saint-Germain, who started the year well but have stagnated recently, with a 3-1 loss to fellow UCL participant AS Monaco away and an unfortunate 1-1 draw to AS Saint-Etienne at Le Parc.

To their credit, Les Parisiens have already won two trophies: the International Champions Cup and the Trophee Des Champions over an Olympique Lyonnais outfit that stumbling into the Champions League on back to back losses in Ligue 1 competition (4-2 to Dijon FCO away, 3-1 to Girondins de Bordeaux at home). Layvin Kurzawa has risen to become a capable goalscorer with two goals to his name, as has Lucas Moura. The loss of Zlatan Ibrahomivic has impacted PSG’s form, though, and the slump of Edinson Cavani has become a serious issue for Nasse Al-Khelaifi’s grand scheme of European domination.

Needless to say, there is reason to believe that this match will be the one match that turns the production fortunes in PSG’s favour. When the likes of Marco Verrati, Thomas Meunier, Blaise Matuidi and Marquinhos lift, Paris Saint-Germain go back to being Paris Saint-Germain. And that puts the likes of Arsenal on notice. Emery believes that a great battle is on the way in what should be a strong turnout.

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“I expect a difficult game, a different one to the last against Saint-Etienne,” said Emery. “We will face different players, another team that plays in a different system and which has a different idea of football. I expect a great game, a great battle. I hope that we’ll put in a good performance, play well against a great team that will try to play to its strengths: possession and good defence.

“The team is doing well, even after two games without a win. The squad knows the path to take to improve, to win. I have said the same thing to the players ever since the first day. You have to work, be tenacious, be optimistic. But the most important thing is to work every day.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. PT/2:45 p.m. ET. Here are 10 Bold Prediction for the match between Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

  • Petr Cech will make at least four saves.
  • Kevin Trapp will make under five saves.
  • Lucas Moura will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Layvin Kurzawa will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Mesut Ozil will score for Arsenal.
  • Laurent Koscielny will score for Arsenal.
  • Santi Cazorla will score for Arsenal.
  • At least 40 fouls will be whistled.
  • At least four cards will be issued.
  • A goal will be scored in the last 15 minutes and stoppage time.

Arsenal 3, Paris Saint-Germain 2

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