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Wenger hails Ospina after PSG draw

Paris Saint-Germain’s Serge Aurier (R) tussles with Arsenal’s goalkeeper David Ospina on September 13, 2016 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris © AFP / Miguel Medina

PARIS, France, Sep 14 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described David Ospina as “world-class” after the Colombian goalkeeper justified his selection in Tuesday’s Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain with several decisive saves.

Ospina was beaten by Edinson Cavani’s header inside the opening minute at the Parc des Princes but foiled the French champions on several other occasions as Alexis Sanchez’s late leveller ensured a 1-1 draw in the Group A opener.

And Ospina’s performance silenced the doubters who questioned why Wenger had chosen to play him in Paris rather than regular number one Petr Cech, who was left on the bench.

“I have two world-class goalkeepers and I know we have enough matches to give both of them games. If you cannot play them you cannot keep world-class goalkeepers who don’t get games,” insisted Wenger.

Arsenal’s wobble in the Champions League at the start of last season, with surprise defeats to both Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos that almost condemned them to an early exit, was partly attributed to Wenger’s decision to play Ospina in goal.

The former Nice custodian made one calamitous error in particular that gifted a goal to the Greeks, but against PSG he rescued the London club with numerous interventions to deny Cavani and Angel Di Maria.

“Ospina was very good and he will have shown tonight for those who doubted him that he is a good goalkeeper,” added Wenger.

“When he played in the Champions League last season he made an error and everyone came down on him, but he has put things right.”

The question now is, will Ospina keep his place for Arsenal’s next Group A game at home to Swiss side Basel in two weeks, and Wenger hinted that he will.

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“We have rules that the ‘keepers know. That’s why it is important to have clear rules from the start, and when that changes I inform them,” said the Frenchman.

“We can always change our minds. It’s down to performances and on what he has delivered tonight he has the right to claim to play in the next Champions League game.”

– Profligate Cavani –

It was far from a vintage Arsenal performance but the draw in what was on paper their trickiest fixture leaves them well placed to win their group, something they have not done in the Champions League in five years.

“PSG were good. They were determined, aggressive, quick on the break, and applied very strong physical pressure,” added Wenger.

“But even in the first half when we put together a few passes we felt we could be dangerous. We created chances in the second half and it is a good point for us.”

Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani controls the ball in the match against Arsenal on September 13, 2016 © AFP / Franck Fife

From a PSG perspective, their inability to see out the victory was less to do with Ospina than with Cavani’s inability to convert several chances to add to his opener.

The Uruguayan had two spectacular misses in the first half before being denied by the Arsenal ‘keeper in the second half, and Unai Emery’s side have now gone three games without a win.

“I am not happy with the result but I am happy with how we played. We need to play like this in future,” insisted the Spaniard Emery, who refused to be critical of Cavani.

“The most important thing is that he is creating chances for himself. That is positive for the future.”

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Quarter-finalists in each of the last four seasons, PSG are next in Champions League action away to Ludogorets Razgrad in Bulgaria in a fortnight.

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