Gunners have stalled, admits Wenger after PSG get edge

PSG's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura (right) heading the ball, which was deflected into the Arsenal net by Alex Iwobi (not pictured) for their equaliser in the 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. The French champions can ensure top place
PSG's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura (right) heading the ball, which was deflected into the Arsenal net by Alex Iwobi (not pictured) for their equaliser in the 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. The French champions can ensure top place in Group A by beating Ludogorets in the final round of matches.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsene Wenger conceded that Arsenal have lost momentum and look destined for a frustrating second-placed finish in their Champions League group, after being held to a 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain.

The Frenchman's side were on course to wrap up top spot in Group A when they led 2-1 late in the second half at the Emirates Stadium, courtesy of a goal from Olivier Giroud and an own goal from PSG midfielder Marco Verratti.

But Lucas' 77th-minute header was deflected into his own net by Gunners winger Alex Iwobi and Arsenal were unable to find a winner.

The result leaves the north Londoners level on 11 points with PSG but behind them on a head-to-head record, meaning the French team will take first place if they win their last group match against minnows Ludogorets on Dec 6.

Arsenal travel to Basel on the same night and Wenger admitted that it does not look likely they will take pole position following their third successive draw in all competitions, meaning they will probably get a tougher tie in the knockout stages.

Finishing second could consign the Gunners to a daunting collision with any of Barcelona, Juventus or Atletico Madrid in the last 16.

"It's not over, but we have a 90 per cent chance to finish second," Wenger said. "We wanted to finish first. We haven't lost a game in this group so we have done well, but we haven't finished the job.

"We dropped off after it was 2-1. We didn't maintain the pressure and paid for that."

After a strong run that raised hopes of sustained challenges for silverware at home and abroad, Arsenal have looked lethargic in lucky draws against Manchester United in the English Premier League, keeping them fourth, and PSG.

Wenger knows his team have been below their best over the last week, but he does not expect the dip to last. "We have not lost but we have lost a winning momentum a little bit," he said. "It's up to us to transform the draws into wins, but there is no reason to panic."

PSG could easily have finished with victory as Edinson Cavani, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute, squandered two late chances.

However, Unai Emery, the PSG coach, was happy enough with a polished performance that puts his side's European destiny in their own hands.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Gunners have stalled, admits Wenger after PSG get edge'. Print Edition | Subscribe