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Arsenal Versus Paris St Germain: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

saint_pierre_pleurant_sa_faute_le_guerchin

What is the greatest of all human qualities? Charity? Self sacrifice for the greater good? Giving with no expectation of personal gain? I suspect these and variants thereof would figure pretty highly on everybody’s list. How about humility, modesty and a humble willingness to allow one’s good deeds to increase anonymously the water in the well of human kindness?

All of this and more can and should be applied to many altruistic, humanitarian, noble, and self effacing people working the world over with tireless dedication to alleviating suffering and fighting injustice. But there is another entirely forgotten, overlooked and ill used species of human for whom no eulogies will be read and no tears shed. I speak of the humble football blogger who despite churning out a thousand words in anticipation of Saturday’s Premier league clash with Southampton is expected a mere three days later to come up with another carefully honed verbal sculpture.  Not only that but he is presumed to be content writing about a game which (and it is painful merely to contemplate typing these words) he will not even be able to watch himself.

One of the many great achievements of Arsène Wenger’s tenure in north London has been continuous qualification for the Champion’s League. A staggering achievement for any manager at any club but when one factors in the years of thrift and expediency when paying for a new stadium during a global financial crisis it is quite simply astonishing. Our reward for supporting him in his endeavour comes on days like these, when our beloved team gets to pit its wits against the best of the best in European club football.

The fixture dwarfs the domestic cup competitions and throws a deep shadow over its classé neighbour The Europa League. To miss the opening of this season’s European campaign is unthinkable. To miss it and still step up and write for the pleasure of those lucky or sensible enough to be watching is an act surely worthy of sainthood.

But I don’t want to draw attention to my own plight. It is a given that charity and true selflessness are conducted quietly and away from the spotlight. I shall soldier bravely on knowing that at least my friends will be settling down on their sofas this evening with a chilled six pack of Bavarian Pilsner and a family bag of paprika Kettle Chips ready to witness the curtain raiser on our tilt at the European crown.

In case you have recently arrived from Alpha Centauri allow me to explain. Arsenal are travelling to Paris this evening to play against the Champions of French Ligue Une. Champions for the previous four seasons I might add and a side who boast such luminaries of world football as Adrien Rabiot, Serge Aurier, Ángel Di María, Layvin Kurzawa and Lucas Moura. Last year PSG coasted through their qualifying group just three points behind Real Madrid, the eventual winners. They brushed aside Chelsea in the round of sixteen before losing by the odd goal in the Quarter finals to Manchester City. It’s fair to say then that they’ve had mixed results against British clubs in recent times.

Given their resources and immediate history in the competition one would expect them to top the group and stroll into the the next round. I’d like to think that Arsène’s army can shove a stick into the spokes of that particular wheel, starting tonight. Unfortunately in the last two years we’ve not started well in the Champion’s League, losing both of our opening matches. However as I’m sure Shotta would point out these results were statistical anomalies when compared with an unbroken string of unbeaten opening games stretching back to 2003.

Neither side has been in great form recently. After a good start to their season our opponents were roundly gubbed by Monaco and suffered the ignominy of a late, late equaliser against St Etienne. As you know, but for the benefit of our inter galactic visitor I’ll say it anyway, Arsenal have yet to hit their stride this season. Ending up on the wrong side of a seven goal opening day thriller with Liverpool the subsequent games have seen us unable to find the net at Leicester, brilliant for forty five minutes at Watford and patchy against Southampton. I like to think that the first half at Vicarage Road is the true indicator of what is to come and once we regain our touch and composure the Wengerball will start to flow again.

It’ll be interesting to see who starts up front tonight. I thought the new boy showed a good work rate and some nice touches but looked, unsurprisingly, as if he was unfamiliar both with and to his team mates. Whereas in Olivier they have a man who’s game they know and understand. The biggest difference seemed to me to be in hold up play. Larry is possessed of preternatural touch and control combined with massive strength. He is adept at winning and keeping the ball and turning it around the corner for the midfield runners to carry the threat beyond the central defenders. Perez or Lucas or whatever we’re supposed to call him (I’m sure I’ll be told) seemed to look more for the immediate one touch lay off enabling him to spin in anticipation of the return pass, and go beyond the defence himself.

Both are perfectly acceptable strategies but in Olly’s case the players around him know the game and play to his strengths, whereas at times Lucas Perez caught them unawares. Will the bedding in process continue from the start or will the manager opt for continuity, familiarity and a man proven able to play alone up front on a difficult European night? We shall see. The other decision seems to me to be a choice between Granit and Francis and Santi. Perm any two from three. Given Santi’s age and his endeavours against the Saints on Saturday will we see a less creative but more solid anchor or will the tried and tested SC / FC axis be preferred?

If any of this has any bearing on the manager’s thoughts then whither Mo Elneny? Withering on the vine or flourishing under the Parisian spotlights? This squad really does throw up some fascinating conundrums. All will of course be revealed to those of you fortunate enough to be glued to your screens this evening. Some of us however, and I mention no names, are giving their time to a good cause and must miss the match. The less charitable among you may suspect that I agreed to this evening’s task in a moment of forgetfulness not realising there was a match tonight. I prefer to see myself as the martyr laying down his love of the beautiful game to help out a pal. But like Smashy and Nicey, while I may do a lot of good deeds, I don’t like to talk about them too much.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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61 comments on “Arsenal Versus Paris St Germain: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

  1. I’m hoping OG’s card will be rescinded, but I’ll not hold my breath. I’ll not elaborate on the way I saw decisions made. I’m glad Arsenal did better in the 2nd half and extremely pleased they came away with a draw.

    I’m gonna read this article again. Magnificent.
    (I was marginally selfless tonight, as I had to field a call from a friend that started in minute 2 and ended at half time. Marginal-ly).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Look how PSG manufactured Giroud’s sending off:

    https://streamable.com/9maq

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  3. WENGER ON RED CARDS AND PSG DRAW

    Arsène Wenger was a satisfied man when he sat down for his press conference following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain.

    Here’s what the manager said about the game and some of the talking points:
    PSG 1-1 Arsenal – Report

    on the result and performance…
    I feel overall we played against a good Paris Saint-Germain team, who started much stronger than us. They played at a high pace, but even in the first half I think we were in trouble mainly when we lost the ball on the counter-attack because they pressed well. Even in the first half you could see that if we managed to keep the ball a bit better we would be dangerous – we created chances. In the first half, our midfield played a bit too far from Alexis. In the second half we played higher, and after the kick-off in the second half we had a good chance to come back, which we did. In the end we have experience in the Champions League and we got a good point.

    on the benefits of Arsenal’s experience…
    When you start so badly against a team of that quality you need experience. If you are too young, you can be caught. I thought that we didn’t panic, and overall we were resilient enough, and the resilience comes through experience. I told the players at half-time that if we keep playing we will come back, because we could see if we had better possession we could score goals. Overall, I think it was a good result to come here and not lose and pick up a point.

    on Cavani’s performance…
    I think Cavani was good tonight if I’m honest. I think he was very effective in terms of his pressing.

    on the red cards…
    The ball was on the other side, I did not see what happened. I think the first yellow card [for Giroud] was very harsh already, it wasn’t a foul. The second, he tells me he has done nothing at all and Olivier is honest so I believe him. And Verratti told me as well that he has done nothing, so I said look, ‘go together to see the referee and tell him you did nothing’.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160913/wenger-on-red-cards-and-psg-draw?#82hM1lSky0LQ2g0O.99

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  4. ‘I REPEAT: OSPINA IS WORLD CLASS’

    David Ospina kept us in the game on Tuesday night with a string of excellent saves to deny the likes of Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria.
    Arsène Wenger was quick to praise the Colombian after our 1-1 draw in Paris:
    PSG 1-1 Arsenal – Report
    Wenger on red cards and PSG draw

    on Ospina playing well…
    I agree with you. In the decisive moments when he could have [conceded] a penalty, when at one down in the first half he came out with a good header. You know, I have two world-class goalkeepers, I will repeat that. I know we have enough games to give them games. But if you cannot play… you cannot keep as well two world-class goalkeepers that don’t get games.

    on whether it will be hard to drop Ospina at Hull…
    Look, we have the roles that the keepers know. And that’s why it’s important to have clear roles when the season starts and when that changes I inform them. But they know what the roles of the season are.

    on whether it is a stated policy that Ospina will play Champions League…
    I would not like to answer that question tonight, because we can always change our mind. He has the right to train, to stay in the Champions League games.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160913/-i-repeat-ospina-is-world-class-?#PacLwBEB4HLWEktG.99

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  5. Hello everyone, just made it home, what did I miss?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Not the best performance but a decent enough result. Mental strength.
    Very harsh on OG , very very fussy refereeing from a guy we apparently see quite often.

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  7. Steww, you missed a good Arsenal effort, best performance by Ospina since he’s joined us and some good fortune that Cavani was so profligate of the good chances he had. It was a bit of an odd team selection in my mind, I would have thought that either OG or Perez would have started and Xhaka also but Arsene thought otherwise… We conceded within seconds (42!) and were fortunate to have kept it at that 1-0.

    The positives I take are Ospina, Iwobi, the fact we kept at it and slowly gained some control of the Match and how Alexis got us the tying goal. young Iwobi almost won it for us at the end which let’s face it would have been highway robbery on our part!

    Still big point for us, if we can beat them at home and the other games go as they should it should see us going thru easily and who knows maybe even topping our group.

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  8. Just caught up with the match and redshark91 summed it up pretty well. Surprised to see elsewhere that some take our goal keeper having a good game as a sign that the team had a poor one. Isn’t he part of that team? That’s how teams work; when one bit isn’t running smoothly another part picks up the slack.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You’re being far too reasonable there Steww.

    Where’s the anger? Don’t you know this is the end of an era? At least that is what I’ve been telling myself these past several years…failing that why aren’t you listening to petty plundits who’ve modelled their careers upon Alan Partdrige?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. New post up

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The real story is Iwobi’s socks.

    Are they regulation?

    Like

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