And that concludes Arsenal in the Champions League group stages.
Already qualified after 4 games, like Spurs last night, results tonight mean that the last game of the group stages is a dead rubber (sort of). Unlike Spurs, it is not because we are already out, but due to the group now being set in stone (PSG will not lose at home to the Bulgarian chicken farmers).
With one game to go, Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with PSG means we are almost certain to finish 2nd in the group.
If you take the two games between the best two teams in the group over two legs, you would struggle to argue against PSG ending up on top. There finishing did not quite live up to their play. A 3-3 draw with PSG going through on away goals, we would have no complaints.
The starting XI put out by Arsene Wenger was a little bit of stick, a little bit of twist. It was good for Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey to get another 90 minutes under their belt. It was odd Granit Xhaka did not start. And Alex Iwobi is now showing he maybe is not quite ready to start week in, week out.
A brilliant first goal for PSG, Arsenal got back into the game just before the half time whistle. It was never a penalty. It was a dive. Olivier Giroud took the penalty, and scored – he is the best penalty taker in the team.
A bit of hand bags before the penalty. Edison Cavani gave Aaron Ramsey a little slap. Ramsey had a little moan. It was nothing to moan about, he should moan up. On the other side, he he done what many a foreigner would have done and throw himself to the floor and role about, Cavani would have seen red. A Catch 22. You don’t want to see your players cheating, but should he have been smarter?
Anyway, 2-2 sees Arsenal in second and, with other groups concluding over the last 2 days as well, we can have an early sneek preview of what Arsenal could get in the first knock out stage:
And in Bullseye style, here’s what we could have won:
When you actually put them together like that, there is no real difference between finishing 1st and 2nd, bar playing at home in the 2nd leg.
The main difference between the two groups is Barcelona. Both will have teams that others want to avoid. None of the sides finishing top will exactly be relishing getting Bayern Munich, Real / Dortmund, Arsenal or Juventus / Sevilla. Likewise, trips to Napoli / Benifca / Besiktas or Monaco would be favourable to the sides finishing 2nd.
On the balance, it is sligtly better finishing top, as there will be one less Super Power to face. Barcelona or Leverkuson is the big difference.
Bar the dead rubber against Basel, we can put Europe to bed until the New Year, and give our top players a mid week break, for a couple of weeks at least.
On to Bournemouth.