Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side were sure to be grinning as Monaco established their credentials as title contenders in Ligue 1 this season with a resounding 3-1 victory at home to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Gunners face the defending French champions in Paris on September 13 to begin Group A in the Champions League and Unai Emery’s side were easily the strongest outfit in comparison to Basel and Ludogorets, but based on Sunday night’s display, there is little for Arsenal to worry about.
Goals from Joao Moutinho, Fabinho and an own goal from Serge Aurier comprehensively slayed Paris and condemned Emery to his first defeat as manager since arriving on the back of a trophy-laden spell with Sevilla.
If Arsenal’s scouts were taking notes, the most important element to Monaco’s terrific display was the sheer work rate of their players; phenomenal pressing significantly reduced PSG’s ability to roam the midfield.
Kamil Glik and Jemerson, Monaco’s centre-half pairing, pushed themselves forward to cut off any space that Paris’s attackers had allowed themselves in brief moments of breaching their opponents midfield.
Moutinho and his team-mate Tiemoue Bakayoko controlled matters in the middle of the park, which gave Djibril Sidibe the time to enjoy regular offensive plays on the right hand side of the pitch, as demonstrated by Moutinho’s early goal.
Le but de Moutinho contre le PSG!!! ?⚪ pic.twitter.com/FJjvDYEDvp
— MuneGooner (@MuneGooner) 28 August 2016
Monaco outclassed the champions in every aspect, and proved Arsenal have a terrific chance of topping their Champions League group should they overcome what is looking like a very suspect Paris team.
Le Rouges et Blancs also displayed to the world that Ligue 1 may not be just a one horse race to the title, with the French top flight becoming increasingly competitive.
Nice and Guingamp share the reins as they lead the top of the table, but one suspects that it could be a fight between Monaco and Paris for the title in the long run.
One team that could also challenge is Marseille, who have today been purchased by the former owner of the LA Dodgers Frank McCourt.
The American businessman is said to be willing to bankroll the French giants in order to bring the Ligue 1 title to the Stade Velodrome.
Returning to the capital’s biggest team, Emery has significant work to do in order to repair the damage caused by Monaco to his team last night.
Laurent Blanc’s dismissal can be considered as unjustified by some, and considering that his predecessor had not lost a game until the 28th game of the season in 2015-16, it is evident that enormous pressure already weighs on Emery’s shoulders.
The international break could not come at a worse time for Paris either, whilst their opening Champions League opponents are still celebrating from their convincing triumph over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
In addition, the acquisitions of Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi will only strengthen the Gunners ahead of their trip to France.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.