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Arsenal make a point in Europe

Alexis Sanchez makes it 1-1 at the Parc des Princes

ARSENAL RETURNED to Paris after ten years and that Champions League final in 2006 where a ten man Gunners were 20 minutes away from being crowned Champions League winners.

Sadly for Arsene Wenger’s side, fellow finalists Barcelona didn’t see it that way and came back to win 2-1 for what would thus far become Wenger’s only crack at claiming Europe’s elite club title. Now in his 20th year at Arsenal, Wenger could in all probability have his last chance of winning the Champions League as Gunners’ boss but against a Qatari financed Paris Saint Germain, Wenger watched on in horror as Edison Cavani gave the Parisian side the lead with less than a minute on the clock.

It was shocking defending and that theme would continue as the home sought to add to their tally. That they didn’t was in no small part down to some fine saves made by David Ospina. Wenger seems to fancy the Colombian ahead of club number one ‘keeper Petr Cech and after a somewhat jittery start that decision seemed to be vindicated. Time after time, Ospina denied the Paris onslaught and Cavan in particular could have a hatful on another day. Re-grouped and galvanised, the Gunners would always get a chance and it fell to Alexis Sanchez in the 77th minute. Alex Iwobi’s shot came back out and there was Alexis to drive home a leveller and earn the Gunners a crucial away goal as well as a crucial point.

Following the draw, Wenger praised his shot stopper and his denying of Cavani and Angel Di Maria, both had enough chances to put their side out of sight.

“ In 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.” The Arsenal boss wouldn’t say if Ospina would start at Hull on Saturday, or if he is the preferred Champions League ‘keeper but stressed that both keepers are aware of the changeable nature of their roles.

“ I would not like to answer that question tonight, “ said Wenger when asked of Ospina starting at Hull. “ We can always change our mind. He has the right to train, to stay in the Champions League games.

With their continual Champions League involvement, Arsenal would have been aware of what would be expected, but were still caught cold in the home side’s first attack of the match. Wenger was heartened to see his maturer side soak up the pressure and then strike a leveller which seemed beyond them for much of the game

"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.

“ 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.”

Arsenal made the worse possible start when an unmarked Cavani headed home from Aurier’s cross after less than a minute on the clock. Nacho Monreal was exposed and that would be the home side’s preferred route in attack. Cavani should have doubled his and his side’s lead when another defensive relapse saw the Uruguay striker round the on rushing Ospina, but then shoot wide with an unguarded net in front of him. It was a let off and Arsenal knew it.

Ospina came out to deny Aurier after a neat passing move on the Gunners’ left hand side as Paris ramped up their attack in the second half. Now Rabiot cut through and a fortunate deflection allowed Cavani in on Ospina, but the Colombia keeper produced another quality save. Di Maria then saw Ospina tip his effort over the bar, the move coming after a poor clear out from Ospina, but the save was his redemption as Arsenal’s rearguard was sliced open again.

When they gained momentum to surge forward, Arsenal found the net. Alexis fed Mesut Ozil on the left. The German crossed and Iwobi was first to react and shoot. Areola kept the ball out with a low save, but the deflection came out to Alexis who buried the follow up for a 1-1 scoreline after 77 minutes. The travelling support found their voices and the Gunners seemed to have found an opportunity to build on. That said, when Pastore fed Cavani, the latter seemed odds on to score. Having shrugged of the attentions of Laurent Koscileny, as he went to round Ospina, the Arsenal ‘keeper got his low dive just right to palm the ball away.

Eight minutes before time, Alexis stormed forward and found Iwobi. His shot required the attentions of Areola as the Gunners threatened to take the lead. In time added on substitute Olivier Giroud and Verratti were both shown second yellow cards, for much a do about nothing really. As he did last season, Giroud saw red on match day one, but the Gunners had earned a very valuable point.

“The ball was on the other side, I did not see what happened, “ said Wenger on the red card. “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."

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