We learned as Ar­se­nal are held

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

Ar­se­nal spent £35mil­lion on Granit Xhaka this sum­mer and yet Arsene Wenger still does not trust him in the big­gest games. He was on the bench here, just as he was for last Satur­day’s trip to Old Traf­ford, the big home win over Chelsea and the trip to Paris back in Septem­ber.

Wenger is only will­ing to play Xhaka, it feels, in the eas­ier games, where he can trust him. This is a cu­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion, to say the least.

Ar­se­nal would not have signed Xhaka with­out thor­ough re­search. But he might need to prove that he can be trusted not to get booked be­fore he can be­come a reg­u­lar.

Drop­ping Xhaka meant that Aaron Ram­sey started and he proved again that he does of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent to the Ar­se­nal mid­field.

Even play­ing af­ter re­cent in­jec­tions for a bro­ken toe, Ram­sey pro­vided those cut­ting for­ward runs which give Ar­se­nal a bet­ter op­tion in the box.

None of Ar­se­nal’s other mid­field­ers do that and, with a se­quence of games, Ram­sey would cer­tainly be­come the in­ci­sive goal-threat he has been here in the past.

Whether he can get that run, in his favoured cen­tral mid­field po­si­tion, is an­other ques­tion.

Unai Emery was brought in to toughen PSG up, to drive out the com­pla­cency that cost them in the Cham­pi­ons League last year, a year when they should have won the com­pe­ti­tion.

And while they came into this game try­ing to be com­pact and rig­or­ous, they let it slip. Grze­gorz Krychowiak made a reck­less lunge on Alexis Sanchez for the equaliser.

PSG failed to clear a sim­ple ball in the box for the goal that gave Ar­se­nal the lead. While Ar­se­nal even­tu­ally let PSG back into the game, they will not al­ways be that lucky.

Hec­tor Bel­lerin is one of the best full-backs in Europe, and was courted by Europe’s best teams un­til he signed his new con­tract. Carl Jenk­in­son is a good player but for the last two sea­sons Ar­se­nal loaned him out to West Ham United.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween the two play­ers was clear here, as Ar­se­nal des­per­ately lacked Bel­lerin’s pace and de­liv­ery out on the right. Alexis Sanchez, moved back to an in­side-right role, looked ex­as­per­ated with Jenk­in­son at times as he failed to pro­vide the sup­port Ar­se­nal needed.

He may only be a right back, but Bel­lerin is one of the most im­por­tant men to Ar­se­nal’s game. They need him back quickly.

The other man that Ar­se­nal miss is Santi Ca­zorla. Ar­se­nal are meant to be a pos­ses­sion team but they lose all their in­tel­li­gence and con­trol when he does not play. Here, they strug­gled to set the tempo or cre­ate chances, or to find their front men in good po­si­tions.

Ram­sey’s runs were good, and Co­quelin de­fended well, but there is no sub­sti­tute for in­tel­li­gent pass­ing. This was Ar­se­nal’s third big game in a row, af­ter Tot­ten­ham and Manch­ester United, and they have been out­played in all three.

Ca­zorla is un­likely to be back be­fore Christ­mas, though, mean­ing Ar­se­nal have plenty more of this to come. –


Ar­se­nal’s Granit Xhaka (left) tack­les Paris Saint-Ger­main’s Hatem Ben Arfa dur­ing their Cham­pi­ons League group A match yes­ter­day. –

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