Momentum is a great thing in football and there is no doubt that Arsenal have it at the moment. We may have a had a bit of luck along the way, with the poor finishing of Cavani giving us the chance to draw at PSG and a soft penalty decision from the ref helping us to beat Southampton, but the fact of the matter is that the Gunners are going strong after a slow start to the new season.
There has been a lot of speculation about how many changes to the Arsenal starting line up Arsene Wenger will make for the second Champions League group match against the Swiss champions Basel tonight, even more so with Francis Coquelin reminding the Gunners boss of how injury problems have plagued the club in recent years.
Apart from having to replace the defensive midfielder though, with Granit Xhaka the obvious choice, I think we will see just one other change from the 11 players that started and did so well against Chelsea in the Premier League at the weekend. Arsenal do have an EPL match on Sunday to consider but after that is the international break and the trip to Burnley is a game we expect to win anyway.
The Arsenal and Chelsea teams are out for today’s big Premier League clash and there are a few surprised and talking points from both sides. The biggest news for me and from an Arsenal point of view is the continued absence of the Chelsea captain and centre back John Terry.
The veteran defender was possibly due to return today and I reckon it is a massive plus point for Arsenal’s chances of winning that he hasn’t made it, because that leaves Cahill and Luiz and the Brazilian has been making lots of mistakes since coming back from PSG.
Arsene Wenger is well aware of the qualities od Diego Costa, so the Arsenal coaches will have been working with the players, especially the ones on the defensive side of the team, on how to best cope with the Spain international and stop him from scoring when Chelsea come to north London in the Premier League today.
It is not just Costa’s abilities as a striker that is worrying the Arsenal boss, however, but his talent as a wind up merchant. The referee Mike Dean was largely to blame for our loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season, as he failed to take action when Costa should have seen red for fouling Koscielny but then sent off Gabriel for his reaction.
We heard from Arsene Wenger the sort of news that Arsenal fans have sadly become used to in recent years, with the return of the Welsh international star Aaron Ramsey after his hamstring injury having been put back yet again. He has now been out of action since that first EPL match against Liverpool and is not likely to be ready for next weekend either.
Some better news for the boss, however, was that our big French centre forward Olivier Giroud is close to a comeback having come through a training session earlier in the week without any problems. The striker was due to be tested again during training yesterday but as long as nothing untoward happened he should be fit to face Chelsea today.
A lot of Arsenal fans and people in the football media, such as our old striker Ian Wright who is both, have been a little disappointed so far this season in how much we have seen from the big summer signing Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss international has started the two Premier League games against Leicester City and Watford and I think he did pretty well. Apart from that, however, Wenger has started with Xhaka on the bench and he did not feature at all against Southampton last weekend.
Arsenal head to Paris to face up against PSG today in the club’s opening Champions League fixture of the campaign. The Gunners are in for tough test in their first away game and many are wondering how Arsenal will match up against the French champions.
According to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, he believes this year may be Arsenal’s best opportunity to win the Champions League, but not necessarily his last chance to win the competition.
Arsenal travel to France today for a game at the Parc de Princes in Paris, to match up against Paris Saint Germain in the opening round of Champions League fixtures for the group stage. Arsenal have been given the Champions of Ligue 1 as a tough first test in the club’s champions league campaign and it is set up to be a truly great fixture.
Both sides seem well prepared for the match, with both players and managers coming out to give their perspective on the fixture, but it also seems that both sides are feeling pretty nervous going into the match.
Even though Arsene Wenger has declared himself happy with what Arsenal were able to do in the summer transfer market this year, spending more than ever to bring in Lucas Perez, Mustafi, Holding, Xhaka and Asuno to strengthen the squad in key areas, the international break did not come at a very good time for us.
The boss told Arsenal Player that it would have been nice if the Gunners were able to carry on where we left off with the fluency and penetration we saw away to Watford but he does believe that our squad now has the quality and quantity that we need to fight on the four fronts of the Premier League, Champions League, FA cup and the EFL cup.
The Manchester derby is clearly the big match of the Premier League weekend, but Arsene Wenger has got his own things to worry about as he prepares the Arsenal squad for the visit of Southampton to the Emirates stadium today.
It is a game that the Gunners need to win and one from which we expect to take all three points, especially aftyer their slow start to life under the new manager Claude Puel. But the fact that he knows Wenger from his time in charge of Monaco may just give Puel a helping hand and we cannot afford to take this game lightly.