The reverse fixture between these two in Paris ended 1-1 and now, they’re both on 10 points with the winner claiming first place. Arsenal had the tougher fixture of the weekend, with a late goal from Olivier Giroud nabbing a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Angel di Maria scored in the 13th minute, and a 90th minute penalty from Jese sealed the 2-0 victory over Nantes for PSG. Worryingly for Arsene Wenger, he’ll be without Hector Bellerin at right back and will instead rely upon Carl Jenkinson to deputize. While much of PSG’s attack flows down their right side through Angel di Maria, look for them to take early excursions on the left to test Jenkinson. Historically, only 30% of the teams who have finished second in their group have won their first knockout round match, so while both squads are guaranteed to progress, finishing first is still an important milestone.
With Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez coming in to cover long term deficits at center back and forward, Arsene Wenger has no excuses left. While getting out of their group in the Champions League is now routine, the Gunners have exited in the second round for six consecutive years. Much like their EPL title drought, there is a perception that Arsenal are in a rut - incredibly talented, but struggling to reach the heights you’d expect from a squad of their talent. With this being the final year of Wenger’s contract, however, perhaps there will be a sense that being very good is no longer good enough.
PSG are gearing up to win a fifth Ligue 1 title that feels almost like a foregone conclusion, even with Zlatan’s departure. Again, the measure of their season will be how well they do in Europe. To that end, they’ve brought in former Sevilla manager Unai Emery who won three Europa League titles during his tenure. They’ve also added to the squad, adding Jese Rodriquez from Real Madrid, Hatem Ben Arfa, and defensive midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, among others. While none of them are superstars, it does appear that their aim is to create a more cohesive squad, instead of following Madrid’s Galacticos model.
Recorded the second-highest assist tally in EPL history last season with 19.
Mustafi calmly marshaled a German defense that only allowed three goals in six matches at Euro 2016.
Despite being overshadowed by Zlatan for most of his PSG career, Cavani has never scored fewer than 25 goals in a season for the club.
After a disappointing season at Manchester United, Di María scored 15 goals for PSG last season.