International Champions Cup: Arsenal vs Paris Saint-Germain – Lineups, Preview & Prediction
Both Arsenal and PSG are looking to kick-start their ICC pre-season campaigns after suffering losses to Atletico Madrid – on penalties – and Bayern Munich, respectively.
12:30 BST, Saturday 28th July, National Stadium (Singapore)
After an Atletico Madrid game that had plenty of ebb and flow, Arsenal look to bounce back and continue their encouraging pre-season so far. Whilst a loss on penalties was disappointing, Unai Emery learned plenty about his team that will hold him in good stead going forwards.
Paris Saint-Germain continue their ICC campaign after a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, aiming at building fitness as Thomas Tuchel learns more about his squad.
Last Time Out
Arsenal 1 – 1 Atletico Madrid (Atletico win 3-1 on penalties) [International Champions Cup]
Arsenal had plenty of possession through the game against a youthful and inexperienced Atletico, but conceded against the run of play.
The impressive 17-year-old Emile Smith-Rowe capped off his game with a lovely goal on debut, and the game shuddered to a halt as substitutes rolled on.
With the game drawn at full time, Atletico’s ‘keeper, Antonio Adan, turned hero on his club debut. He saved three Arsenal penalties from Mkhitaryan, Willock and Nketiah before converting the final decisive penalty.
Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Bayern Munich [International Champions Cup]
PSG played a heavily inexperienced side in their first pre-season friendly of a season, so it was no surprise that they fell to Bayern.
Despite Gianluigi Buffon in goal, they only had Lassana Diarra – in central defence – Adrien Rabiot in midfield and Christopher Nkunku further forward as the experienced heads.
The talented Timothy Weah scored a nice goal to make 1-0, but they conceded three in the second half to Javi Martinez, Renato Sanches and Joshua Zirkzee. With the result far from the priority, it was a solid run-out.
Smith-Rowe missed training today with a blister on his foot, and it seems fair to assume that he will start from the bench tomorrow. That could mean Mkhitaryan moves to the centre. Another change might be Rob Holding for Shkodran Mustafi.
Given Arsenal’s full squad just isn’t here yet, there may not be wholesale rotation just yet. The second-half should see plenty of changes, as was the case on Thursday.
Paris Saint-Germain Lineup
Diarra played at centre back against Bayern, and after addressing that in Friday’s press conference, could be in with a chance to reprise his role. Thomas Tuchel might go back to a back four as Layvin Kurzawa returns at left-back.
It is difficult to call what sort of personnel and formation Tuchel goes for; this might be the closest approximation we can make based on reputation.
Key Battle: Timothy Weah vs the Arsenal defence
From the look of the training session, the centre-back pairing might be Holding and Calum Chambers.
Whilst there were numerous drills, one amongst them involved Holding dribbling, then cutting back, passing to Chambers, who gave it to Bellerin. The Spaniard went past markers, then cut back and passed it to Chambers. A simple drill, and yet effective.
It will be interesting to see how they equip themselves against the pace of Timothy Weah, PSG’s starlet up front. Weah is fast becoming one of the big talents in the world, and his directness on the counter could keep the centre-backs on red alert.
The American might not start, but if he does, expect his battle with the centre-backs to be one of the highlights.
Will Mesut Ozil, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi play?
The Singapore faithful reserved their loudest cheers for Mesut Ozil on gameday as well as the training session on Friday. He’s the star man on tour, even with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang involved as well.
His recent troubles has also seen fans, both Arsenal-supporting and neutral, to rally behind the German.
It is likely that Emery will reward the faithful Singaporean Gunners who have stuck by their man in the hope of watching him live. He is unlikely to start, but a second half appearance will do well to inject life in a game that may peter out towards the end.
Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi could also be involved – a perfect chance for both players to show Emery what they are capable of.
Neither are starters at the moment, and will see this and the rest of the pre-season as a opportunity to prove their credentials.
Will the atmosphere be more lively at the National Stadium?
Thursday night was a disappointment. Many expected the Arsenal fans to arrive in droves, but only 23,095 turned up, less than half of the stadium’s capacity. It also meant that there was no usual Mexican Wave, as is the usual occurrence in these friendlies.
The atmosphere was dead, with little to no consistent noise, and only during certain Atletico-favouring moments did the crowd pick up with heckling the ref. Penalties was the saving grace.
Arsenal-PSG, on a Saturday night, promises to bring the fans in. It is likely that many bought tickets with the hopes of seeing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe play, but there is still a smattering of world-class stars in PSG.
By the looks of the PSG training session, there are passionate Parisians in the city-state. If both groups of fans can get the noise levels up, this game should be much better.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Chance creation was not Arsenal’s problem in the first game, with Jan Oblak keeping Atletico in the game through the first half. Buffon, despite his legendary reputation, is not the rock-solid wall he once was. They should be able to find inroads;
The first-half should be entertaining – one hopes for a game that lives up to its reputation through the 90 minutes.