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UCL: Alexis saves Arsenal



UCL: Alexis saves Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez equalised late on as Arsenal came away from Paris with a precious point despite being second best for much of the game.

“You cannot select a team by making a poll before the game and get everybody’s opinion”, said Arsene Wenger after being asked why he started David Ospina in a crucial Champions League game against Olympiakos last season.

The decision to start Arsenal’s Colombian shot-stopper backfired for Wenger when he scored a calamitous own goal as the Greek side took home three points from Emirates Stadium. It was a case of deja vu when the Arsenal team news filtered through social media channels an hour before kick-off at the Parc des Princes.

While many were looking at the selection of Ospina ahead of a fully fit Petr Cech, it was Wenger’s entire XI which provoked questions over where he has genuine motivations to win Europe’s elite competition. Alexis Sanchez was handed another role at centre forward, despite failing to produce the goods in that position during Arsenal’s opening two league games of the season, while Alex Iwobi starting on the left caused problems with his inability to track back against the impressive Angel Di Maria and Serge Aurier.

Ospina couldn’t do anything about Edinson Cavani’s header with just 43 seconds gone in the game. His ball distribution was predictably below par throughout the match but he did at least justify Wenger’s decision to select him by producing several superb saves to prevent Arsenal from being put to bed in the first half.

The athleticism and pin-point crossing from Aurier caused Arsenal no end of problems throughout the game and the scoreline could easily have been 4-0 if Cavani had taken his opportunities in front of goal.

Arsenal began to mix it up and switched Iwobi onto the right, while the introduction of Granit Xhaka added some steel to the midfield and more composure in possession.

A sending off for Olivier Giroud will undoubtedly anger Wenger who brought the Frenchman on to contribute to Arsenal’s attack. He has now been sent off on match day one of the Champions League in each of the past two seasons, and the two ridiculous yellow cards against PSG make the decision not to start him even more justifiable.


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Alexis, who has scored four and assisted five of Arsenal’s last 14 Champions League goals, once again showed his class by finishing off a well-worked attacking move and saving what can only be described as a gamble by Wenger. The best competition in Europe should be used for playing your best players from the start and Arsenal come away from Paris with a point knowing that they are somewhat fortunate, yet still remain favourites to win a group which contains the Swiss and Bulgarian champions.

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