Arsenal have taken a massive step towards making it out of the group of death alive after they trounced Napoli 2-0 at the Emirates. Bookmakers have dubbed the games against the Italians as the Gunners’ sternest tests owing to the Champions League experience of Benitez and their cash splash in the summer. Arsenal stepped up the gas from the blast of the whistle and got their noses in front through a sublime volleyed finish from Ozil and the 2nd goal took less than 10 minutes. This time Ozil went from goalscorer to assist provider when he smartly turned his marker and played in Giroud who tucked home from close range.
After 2 early goals, Arsenal didn’t have to struggle to get more goals though they still made attempts but Reina’s heroics prevented further humiliation for Napoli. With the win over Napoli and Dortmund winning against Marseille, Arsenal are now 3 points clear at the top of the group of death and should they win against Dortmund on day 3 and avoid a defeat on day 4, Arsenal could be booking their place in the round of 16 so early.
These are the things I noticed from the game
Ozil opens his Arsenal account.
Arsenal’s record acquisition has been in scintillating form for the Gunners since signing from Real Madrid, already racking in 3 assists in just 2 Premier League games but today he opened his goal scoring account with a sublime volley. Giroud started the move with a pass to Ramsey who ran into the box and slipped in a pass to the German who made an easy finish of a very difficult chance. He simply volleyed in Ramsey’s pass beyond the reach of Pepe Reina. From been a goalscorer, he went to his routine role and made a goal for Giroud.
Rosicky returns to the side gives Wenger another option
After a month out, the Czech star returned to fitness, straight to the squad and in the line of fire in place of rested Wilshere. He operated on the right while Ozil took the left. It’s good to have him back in the squad as he would be a good fill-in for Walcott and Podolski while the duo recuperates. Arsenal’s team are shaping up with Rosicky back and Cazorla nearing a return, Arsenal can only get better.
Ramsey brilliant again.
The Welshman wasn’t on the score sheet but was on the assist sheet. He made the goal for Ozil and for the goal, he showed awareness to receive the ball on Giroud, pace to run into box and calmness to pick out Ozil who was just running towards the box to deliver a sublime volley. It takes an intelligent player to opt for a player who isn’t in the box rather the ones already lined up there. The Welshman can’t just stop impressing.
Arsenal’s changed midfield trio.
Wenger decided to tinker with his midfield no thanks to injuries to the wide men and a return to fitness of Arteta. He decided to use the trio of Flamini, Arteta and Ramsey. Arteta got to play in his natural attacking midfield role while Ozil moved to the wings. The new look midfield gives credence to the fact that Arsenal are now spoilt for choice in the midfield with plenty of options. Flamini was preferred to Arteta in the defensive midfielder role. That wasn’t a surprise since he has been fantastic since making his debut in his second coming against Spurs. He is a more natural defensive midfield enforcer than Arteta. The presence of Arteta and Ramsey as the other 2 midfielders in the Arsenal’s midfield trio gave the Gunners defensive solidity since the trio of Flamini, Arteta and Ramsey are defensive minded unlike Wilshere and Ozil who are attack minded. Wenger must have opted for them in his bid to curtail Napoli’s offensive abilities.
Arsenal’s defence shuts out Napoli
Napoli have been scoring in every game they’ve played this season, against AC Milan and Dortmund but against Arsenal at the Emirates, they couldn’t get past our defence. They were perpetually defending; hence, they couldn’t really pressurize us to stand a chance of scoring.
Benitez yet to win at the Emirates
One man that won’t really like the Emirates is Benitez. He has been to Arsenal’s stadium 10 times with 2 different clubs (Liverpool and Napoli) but yet to record a single victory there.
Giroud is key to Arsenal’s attack.
The Frenchman is one of the most underrated players in the current Arsenal line up. Besides scoring goals, something he has been doing very well this season, he already has 6 goals in 10 matches but beyond scoring goals, he has also been initiating attack. For both of Arsenal’s goals today, he was key. He started out the move that led to Ozil’s goal while he actually set up Ozil enroute the German passing over to him to tuck home. I was particularly impressed by the 2nd goal. He showed agility and speed.