Arsenal’s performance left a lot to be desired as they drew 2-2 with a PSG side who could easily have inflicted a much more punishing scoreline against them.
The Gunners made four changes from Saturday’s draw in Manchester, with Olivier Giroud starting up top and Theo Walcott dropping to the bench. Alex Iwobi’s dynamism replaced Mohamed Elneny, whilst David Ospina and Keiran Gibbs kept their Champions League places.
Almost immediately there were danger signs for Arsenal. After six minutes, Meunier found space down the right and crossed to within a kitten’s whisker of Edison Cavani’s forehead – uncomfortably reminiscent of the Uruguayan’s early goal at the Parc des Princes.
Arsenal’s midfielders were flying into challenges with both intent and accuracy, Ramsey looking especially combative having struggled out wide at Old Trafford.
Marco Verrati was initially unable to dictate play from the base of midfield and PSG’s threat instead came from Meunier, who again went relatively unchallenged after 11 minutes before his cross was cleared.
Worryingly for home fans, Cavani found himself in acres of space 4 minutes later when a corner was whipped in to the near post and, in the 18th minute, the same man went incomprehensibly unattended to slide in a Blaise Matuidi cross and put the Parisiens 1-0 to the good.
The usually imperious Laurent Koscielny’s tracking of the striker was poor and the early warning signs had been neglected.
It was clear that the Gunners desperately needed to settle down and keep hold of possession, often forcing the ball forward when there were much easier options available.
Sanchez’s typically uncompromising work rate was a bright spark, yet Mesut Ozil cut a frustrated figure as his team mates made very little movement.
The Chilean floated a chip over the PSG defence in the 27th minute, although Carl Jenkinson was marginally beaten to the ball by ‘keeper Areola.
A minute later Ramsey had a penalty claim rightfully waved away. The Welshman was nevertheless making confident forward runs and was easily Arsenal’s most impressive tackler.
In the 31st minute, centre-half Marquinhos was the first man into the book after a cynical challenge on Alexis as the Gunners looked to break.
PSG were executing a near-perfect game plan, barely giving Arsenal’s ball-players a moment’s peace and dominating possession.
Then came Coquelin’s customary yellow card after tackle on Thiago Motta was deemed to be too high. The booking will see him suspended for Arsenal’s final group game in Basel.
The pattern of play was becoming repetitive and the Emirates faithful restless having seen Arsenal register zero shots.
Ramsey had an appeal for handball in the box turned down after 41 minutes and the replays showed Matuidi would have been hard-done-by if penalised.
When Carl Jenkinson skewed a cross high and wide you could almost sense the inevitable assertions that it ‘summed up Arsenal’s half.’
But however the home side had played in the first half, they were provided with a reset button when Alexis chopped inside and was brought down by Grzegorz Krychowiak and a penalty was given.
Form man Olivier Giroud stepped up to slot in and make it 1-1 with the final kick of the half – Arsenal’s first effort on target.
Neither side made changes at the break but Arsenal emerged with a higher tempo and increased determination.
However, the sloppy passing remained and Koscielny had no other option but to bring down Lucas Moura on the edge of the box. The Brazilian took it himself and sent a terrific curling effort crashing against the bar.
Chances for Arsenal were beginning to materialise, with Iwobi’s through ball almost finding Sanchez and Giroud’s goal-bound drive well-blocked.
Carl Jenkinson was bombing forward where possible and his intent was rewarded in the 60th minute when his cross found its way to Ramsey, whose shot was cleared but freakishly pinged into the net off Verratti and Arsenal suddenly found themselves 2-1 up.
PSG immediately looked determined to respond, with Cavani continuing to find space in behind Arsenal’s defence.
Hatem Ben Arfa came on and exhibited intricate footwork in the 72nd minute before Jenkinson got a crucial knee on the ball to divert Lucas’ cross away from a lurking Matuidi.
Arsenal’s reply was for Sanchez to play one of his near-trademark chipped passes towards Ramsey who just couldn’t get a toe on the ball.
The game was fairly end-to-end, but PSG’s slight ascendancy showed when Lucas Moura headed a corner into the net via a deflection off Iwobi to make it 2-2. The Nigerian was replaced by Granit Xhaka almost instantly.
Dangerman Cavani then surged in behind Arsenal’s defence yet again, but Ospina was equal to his attempted chip and stood strong.
Arsene Wenger’s desire was clear, sending on Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain for Coquelin and Jenkinson.
Cavani’s superb off-the-ball movement wasn’t going away, though. For PSG fans it was just a shame his finishing ability – or lack-of – continued to let him down as he headed wide from point blank range.
The game petered out somewhat and, as the final whistle sounded, Arsenal were left to rue a night where they were generally second-best and consigned to a second place finish in the group stages.