I don’t know about you, but when I get towards the end of the season, depending on how Arsenal are playing, it always feels like a bit of a slog when it gets to each match day. That’s where the start of the season is always so much more enjoyable, because at this early stage nothing has been decided, which means that each match day is greeted with more and more hope. 

So when they come within a space of a couple of days of each other, it’s positively delightful to see, which is why I feel in particularly good mood this morning. Today we get our Champions League campaign underway and in what feels like standard operating procedure these days, we have our toughest group game first, away to PSG.

Perhaps that can be a blessing. You know, getting all out of the way, and all that jazz. But I’ve come to believe over recent times that actually getting some points on the board early to gain momentum are more important. That’s why I would’ve ideally liked to play some of the bigger Premier League teams after 10 or so games. 

But you have to play the hand you’re dealt with and ours is what it is. Whilst tonight’s game certainly looks the hardest on paper, a win or even a draw tonight would set us up nicely for the remaining games in the competition, so if we’re looking at it with our glasses half full, you’d say this is an excellent early opportunity to lay down a marker for the rest of Europe.

The manager certainly seems bullish enough. He’s got his squad at an experienced enough age, there are certainly enough bodies, plus he’s even started rotating at this stage in the season. To my untrained eyes that looks as if he’s going to be playing football a little more like chess this season, but if it pays off and makes us competitive in multiple competitions, we’ll all be singing his name come May.

The trick will be to keep everybody in enough form to be able to rotate, but also not to go over the top and completely overhaul your team from game-to-game, so I expect to only see a few changes for tonight.

Thankfully Koscielny is available to play. That’s massive for us, because he’s quite clearly our best defender and as much as I’ve been impressed with Holding, pairing two newbies together against PSG would have been a scary prospect. But he’s fit, he’ll play, which means the back five should remain the same from the weekend.

The midfield selection will be an interesting one. I can see no reason why Xhaka didn’t start against Southampton other than to save him for this evening, so I’d expect him to get a chance from the off, but the question around who he replaces will be interesting. Almost immediately I think everyone would think Coquelin, but do questions around Santi’s fitness remain? Personally I’d hope not, because both Xhaka and Cazorla were majestic in that first half against Watford a few weeks back, so to see those two pulling the strings for Arsenal would be amazing. 

If they do both play, then we’ll have three creative outlets to find players in space, because Özil will certainly start. If they do all play, what I’d like to see is pace in attack. Alexis and Walcott flanking a target man like Giroud would be nice. There still remain question marks around Giroud’s ability to play alongside Alexis, but if Özil can combine with him and find him or Theo in space, then we could get some joy. 

PSG have a few fitness issues with Thiago Silva and Serge Aurier possibly out, which means that defensively they might look a little less familiar than usual. But their pointy end of the team will remain strong, because Cavani, Lucas Moura and Di Maria will all start in the attacking positions, with Veratti pulling the strings behind them. 

It’s that man Veratti who will look to play balls in behind our back four that I worry about. Whatever about Cavani’s nightmare of a game in front of goal a few weeks back, if he’s given a few chances you know he won’t be Shane Longing them wide. So the key for our back four will be to try not to leave enough space by pressing too high and leaving PSG with opportunities to get in behind. 

The good news for us is that if we play with pace, it could mean PSG – with the emphasis on them being at home – could be encouraged to force a higher line to put pressure on our midfield and defence. If they do that, it could give players like Theo and Alexis the chance to get enough grass in behind, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the French team line up in the opening exchanges.

I fancy us to get something tonight. I don’t quite know what, but I think PSG are beatable. Of course, this could be a classic case of blogger curse, but I still feel we’ve got a decent shout tonight.

Only about 12 hours for me to find out!

Catch you tomorrow.