Back to basics in the Champions League

Author @wozthegooner


Both Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil to be playing in the later stages of Champions League football

Both Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil need to be playing in the later stages of Champions League football

Many people were of the opinion that last night wasn’t that important, “i’d rather save players for our title challenge” . If you just sat back and watched the tempo, commitment and sheer brilliance of our two genuine world class players, you’ll see otherwise. Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil are footballers that deserve to be playing in the champions league later stages, with tonight’s performance we’ve certainly given ourselves that chance. 

The match began slowly for The Arsenal as we stuttered into stride, an early penalty shout denied as Olivier Giroud was buffeted from behind in the penalty area. Then gradually we began to grab a foothold in the game. Alexis,surprisingly quiet in the opening exchanges was released after some superb work from Joel Campbell as he cut inside off the right wing to play a 1-2 with the sensational Mesut Ozil, unfortunately Sanchez couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and the chance passed him by. The next move saw Mesut make one of his customary reverse passes into the feet of Alexis who replicated the move and found the ever willing Nacho Monreal, this time though his final ball evaded him as he over hit his cross. It took until the 28th minute to find the breakthrough, some typically happy feet dribbling from Santi deep in his own half found him out of trouble and playing a 1-2 with Hector Bellerin, a little bit of untidy football & Giroud came to the rescue flicking the ball into the path of Cazorla. Somehow our defensive midfielder Flamini sprayed a superb pass into the feet of Alexis. The runs by both Mesut Ozil and more notably Giroud were superb, Alexis planting the ball on a sixpence and Mesut Ozil bravely attacked and headed home to put us in command. The second came in real quick succession, we seem to have had a decent knack this season of scoring and repeating the feat almost instantly, a bit of play by Zagreb on the edge of thier own box saw Monreal leap into action, intercept, burst past the defensive line and this time pick out the perfect pass, Alexis had the simple task of converting and we had the game all but sewn up baring a disaster. It got the the stage where i almost needed to call a fire engine to get them to the emirates to put out the flames burning off of Mesut as he somehow danced his way through multiple Zagreb challenges and had his strike brilliantly saved. (Amusingly out defensive midfielder was stood in the middle for a tap in and went ballistic, no idea what he was doing there) One last chance created in the first half and for me its complete beauty. We have the ball with Cazorla on the right wing half way in inside our half, pass 1 finds Ozil across the pitch, pass 2 the ball is on the inside left wing with Sanchez, pass 3 from Sanchez finds the ever willing Monreal on the overlap, pass 4 is a superb cut back to Mesut who NEVER stops finding space. The its such a shame pass 5 was saved low to his right by the keeper. 2-0 At half time could and probably should have been more.

Second half we began straight on the front foot again, Bellerin from the inside right finds Ozil who yet again drags defenders all over the shop, a deft touch inside to Santi Cazorla who lashed a left foot strike fairly straight at the keeper.Onto the 3rd goal, again a goal i really enjoyed. We had a wide man right wing who was literally glued to the touchline, as Joel looks up he has no less than 7 Zagreb players between him and the eventual goalscorer, as he drops his shoulder a bursts inside he takes 4 of those players out of the equation and then threads a quite magnificent pass through the 2 remaining defenders for Alexis to perfectly time his run, mug the keeper off and the smash home. Still time for a few more moments of beauty. Mesut again starting from deep into Sanchez, the thing i love more and more about Mesut is that he’s never content to just pass the ball and watch, he bursts past Sanchez again who plays a delicate dink over the back line. Mesut improvises in a way that only Mesut Ozil would and flicks an audacious back header just wide of the post. Finally a moment that will be remembered for many years, as Koscielny looks up and sees Alexis making a run wide he plays a 30 yard ball over the top too him. Not happy to just run onto it like any normal player Alexis jumps up arms spread high in the air and controls the ball on his back, whilst ensuring it barely breaks his stride, unreal.

That moment Alexis Sanchez defied physics

The moment Alexis Sanchez defied physics

All in all its a result and performance that we all expected to see. With all due respect to Zagreb they are a poor poor side & a one of the calibre we should be putting away just as we did. Monreal who has been a revelation this season yet again showing why we have 2 of the best full backs out there at the moment both defensively and offensively. I was alarmed by Flamini’s constant neglect of his actual job, its what’s always let him down, you shouldn’t be seeing your defensive midfielder popping up on the right wing, he should be ahead of play in the box waiting to tap one it, its all very admirable but if we lose possession there is only one place that man should be. He lacks footballing intelligence and any team of any note will really really take advantage with runners from midfield peeling off him, certainly not a long term solution and personally for me not even a short term. Olivier Giroud cut a frustrated and tired figure, he has played a hell of alot of football recently, the horrific events in Paris could clearly still be taking a toll on him mentally and its such a shame we cannot give him a rest. Santi was tidy as he always is, and against teams Like Zagreb all the large faults in his game at CM are rarely exposed, the only major one of note at the moment is that he has scored just 1 goal from open play in 96 Arsenal appearances which is outrageously poor for a player of his quality.Very pleased with Joel Campbell who worked his socks off (like normal to be fair) but actually added some real quality to his game, i wouldn’t for a second think about putting Oxlade back in ahead of him at the moment. Alexis is a world class footballer, when he is having an off day you know he is still going to do something sensational, since the day we signed Alexis ive always mentioned how he could be our Aguero/Suarez. So strong and intelligent, has a magnificent leap, you just have to question if he could lead the line. Last night when Sanchez was thrown up top he surprised even me, the man is a live-wire non stop movement CONSTANTLY bouncing jinking in and out, he made 3/4 perfect runs in behind and was found by balls over the top. Its real food for thought could Alexis be CF at the weekend?

My final words are saved for Mesut Ozil, this man is quite simply world class; a word that is used far too often at times but he is stupidly good. For me technically the greatest footballer we’ve had grace the Arsenal side since Dennis Bergkamp. He is angelic, the way he glides beautifully into space, picking up the ball in dangerous areas, at the drop of the shoulder opening up the whole pitch. The guy is a footballing genius whose brain is always 3 passes ahead of the one he is making at the time, his chance creation and assist record isn’t a joke and now he is adding goalscoring to that. I love that genius.

A comfortable victory as expected, tougher tasks await but a good return to form and onto Norwich at the weekend.



Follow @wozthegooner

“26 year old Passionate Gooner. Follow The Arsenal home and away. Love the beautiful game.”

Warren Ratcliffe

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