Oh Champions League, how we’ve missed you. It feels like last season’s final was lot longer than three-and-a-half months ago. In this opening round of fixtures, we got the first of what the Champions League social media campaign is referring to as the “Fantastic Four” fixtures as Arsenal travelled to take on Paris Saint-Germain. The Gunners were on a three-game unbeaten run heading into their fixture in France, while PSG had struggled to maintain their dominance in Ligue 1. Could the hosts rediscover their form against Arsenal, or could the London club claim a vital three points away from home?
It didn’t take long for PSG to make the mark on the match as they grabbed the lead after less than a minute. Serge Aurier latched on to a long ball on the right flank and sprinted past Nacho Monreal before sending in a picture perfect cross into the penalty area. Edison Cavani made no mistake in nodding past David Ospina to give the hosts an early lead.
The French champs continued to press Arsenal’s backline, and it looked like just a matter of time before they found a second goal. Ángel Di Maria nearly set up Adrien Rabiot for one goal, and then his corner kick nearly caught Ospina out, but the Colombian managed to deliver a desperate save to keep the deficit to just one goal.
Arsenal started to come alive a little bit after their shaky start to the match, but they couldn’t seem to get a shot on target. Their inability to finish nearly came back to bite them after the half hour mark. Cavani should have bagged his second of the match after slipping past Ospina, but he somehow missed a wide-open net to keep Arsenal’s hopes alive. The Uruguayan had another chance in the 42nd minute to double the lead but clumsily missed an acrobatic volley attempt.
PSG got off to another fast start in the second half when Di Maria found himself one-on-one with Ospina, but Monreal did just enough to put him without drawing a penalty. Ten minutes later, the Gunners had a penalty appeal of their own after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went to ground in the penalty area but the official rightly waved play on.
The hosts had three amazing chances to put the match to bed, but Ospina came up big on every occasion. First, Aurier’s dangerous run in the 68th minute was smothered by the keeper before a shot could even be attempted. A minute later, Cavani’s weak close-range effort was denied by an Opsina kick/face save. Three minutes later, Di Maria stung the keeper’s hands with a powerful volley, but Ospina did enough to tip it over the bar.
After another quiet half, Arsenal finally showed some drive in the 78ths minute. Mesut Özil started the move with an incisive cross to find Alex Iwobi in the heart of the box. The 20-year-old hit a deflected effort that Alphonse Aréola did extremely well to keep out of the net, but he couldn’t keep the rebound out of the danger area. Luckily for Arsenal fans, Alexis Sánchez was there to hammer in the second effort and give the visitors a share of the spoils.
Moments after the Gunners equalized, PSG had another great chance to take all three points form the match. Cavani was through on goal for what seemed like the 15th time, and a wayward touch allowed Ospina to pounce and knock the ball out of the area. Other than his early header, this match will be one to forget for the Uruguayan.
The match ended with some off the ball drama as Marco Veratti and Olivier Giroud both received second yellow cards and a sending off. The pair were involved in a little skirmish after a wayward tackle from the Frenchman, and it’s safe to say that neither were happy about it. That would be the final big moment of the match as the two sides ended up sharing the points, but PSG will surely feel as if this was a missed opportunity to take an early lead in the group.