Paris Saint-Germain vs. Arsenal: UEFA Champions League Match Preview

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at Parc des Princes, Paris, September 12. Wenger faces Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday evening, and it is straight into the frying pan and the fire for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

Wenger, still seeking to win Europe's premier club competition for the first time, travels to Paris to take on Paris Saint-Germain and its new coach, Unai Emery.

Where will the first group game be won and lost? Newsweek addresses the talking points.

How will PSG fare sans Zlatan?

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For the first time in five seasons, the Parisian aristocrats will be without their talisman. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was so central to everything PSG did on the field, quite apart from his goals—113 in 122 appearances—and results so far this season would suggest he is missed.

Usually utterly dominant in domestic competition, by virtue of its vastly superior wealth, PSG sits seventh in Ligue 1, with seven points from four games. In those it has six goals, not drastic but hardly prolific compared to AS Monaco, top on points with ten and goals with ten.

PSG should not be struggling to score goals so under new coach Unai Emery, given it is loaded with attacking talent, including one of the world's most expensive strikers in Edinson Cavani. But struggling it is. Arsenal has stuttered so far this Premier League season but will fancy its chances of a clean sheet at Parc des Princes.

Can Wenger impress against his suitor?

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Three times PSG has tried to recruit Wenger, three times it has failed. That is what the Arsenal manager revealed on Monday, stating that he stayed in London for "love" of the club he has managed since 1996.

All of which is fine, and laudable—Wenger has built a dynasty at Arsenal, albeit one that appears increasingly close to its end point. But if Arsenal gets a tonking in Paris, popular opinion will shift ever further towards the suggestion that new money is usurping Europe's old order.

Arsenal, of course, has never won the UEFA Champions League under Wenger and appears further away now, a decade on from losing in the final against Barcelona. Wenger's continued commitment to Arsenal is laudable, but PSG is nearer Europe's glittering prize.

Can PSG perform better in Europe under Emery?

The Spaniard has not been brought to Parc des Princes to win the French league again; rather, he carries with him the heady scent of consistent European success. Emery won the UEFA Europa League three times with Spanish side Sevilla, including last season. There he built a compact, dynamic side custom-fitted for knockout competitions.

In the past four seasons, PSG has gone out at the quarter-final stage, four times. Last season, that cost Laurent Blanc his job, with Emery's requirement to push PSG on to where its ambitious Qatari owners believe it belongs, in the latter stages of European competition.

Emery has brought his best player from Sevilla with him, in Grzegorz Krychowiak, to play in central midfield, a player Wenger was heavily linked to last January. The Pole scored the equalizing goal in the 2015 Europa League final against Dnipro. The evidence so far suggests that PSG has taken an eye and a half off domestic competition, which might spell danger for Arsenal. It's Champions League or bust under Emery.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Arsenal: UEFA Champions League Match Preview | Sports