Arsenal 2 (Ozil 8, Giroud 15) – 0 Napoli
Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Arsenal produced a devastatingly mesmerizing performance in the first half of their Champions League clash against Napoli last night to go top of their Champions League group.
Times were rolled back, as the Gunners put on some display with their quick short passing, quick running through the channels, and effective finishing. Napoli, 2nd in the Italian league, had no answer to the blitz in the opening 15 minutes, and were reduced to take long shots as Arsenal closed down and played a patient game in the second half.
Arsene Wenger named the returning Tomas Rosicky in the starting lineup in place of the in-form Serge Gnabry. Mikel Arteta too took his place, as Jack Wilshere was given a breather on the bench. Napoli were without star striker Gonzalo Higuain, due to a thigh problem and Italian international right back Christian Maggio.
Arsenal started off in earnest, putting early pressure on the Napoli defence, with a couple of early corners. It started when Olivier Giroud was holding up a Napoli defender on the right flank, and he deftly released an onrushing Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey laid the ball to Ozil, who produced a one touch neat and sweet shot that crashed the back of the net. It was a wonderful display of attacking football, and the German’s first goal for the club.
Arsenal did not take long to up gears and score the second goal. Giroud was again involved as he played in Ozil, who waited for Giroud to be in the perfect position to score. He played the ball in between two Napoli defenders, and Giroud had the simple task of tapping home in front of Pepe Reina. The execution was top notch and perfect.
Napoli looked like they had been hit by a rock, as Arsenal continued probing the Italian side. Mathieu Flamini could have earned a yellow card when he slide tackled winger Lorenzo Insigne, but was let off with just a caution. The Italian side did have some chances though, but they were woeful, as Insigne fired over the bar, and Britos headed wide from a corner.
Aaron Ramsey, playing predominantly on the right, had a shot blocked by former Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol, before another former Madridista Jose Callejon fired way over the bar with a free kick. Ramsey and Ozil were linking up brilliantly to create some chances for Arsenal, but Napoli were now pressing harder. Ramsey had a shot blocked, and one saved by Reina in quick succession.
Arsenal started the second half just like they had started the first, as Giroud set up Tomas Rosicky, who couldn’t convert from close range. The Czech, seemed a bit off color and gave away the ball a few times, but did provide some freshness in midfield.
Napoli were taking shots on target, and Inler and Callejon missed theirs, as they enjoyed more possession. The Gunners were happy to allow the Italians play and absorbed all attacks with ease. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta had a fine game, playing right in front of the defense.
Most of the half went without any moments of note. Arsenal had a great chance to go 3-0 up when Pepe Reina saved a close range effort from Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal duly completed a 2-0 win.
It was fantastic to watch Arsenal play at times last night. The quick attacking football, with fine one touch passing bought back memories of the ‘Invincibles’. Mesut Ozil has bought with him more than world class football talent, and that was a belief that this Arsenal side could go places. His performance on the night was top notch.
Olivier Giroud had a big role to play last night. His hold up play gave Arsenal plenty of time and space in midfield to exploit. He has seen a vast improvement in his overall play from last season. Mathieu Flamini looks a bargain of a free transfer. His ‘bite’ in midfield allows the attacking players to play without any inhibitions.
Arsenal’s defence looks solid as ever, and last night there was not a single moment of panic. Speaking in general, the club finally looks like it is heading in the right direction, football wise. This side really looks like one that can challenge and win trophies.
With this win, Arsenal notched up their 10th consecutive win, and surely this run of form could continue for a longer time.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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