Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Ozil Obliterates Ludogorets

Wednesday 19 October 2016
Arsenal 6 Ludogorets 0

Arsenal demolished the Bulgarian champions tonight in a relentless display of football, running out 6-0 victors in this Champions League tie.

The Gunners opened the scoring with a delightful Alexis Sanchez chip, a Bergkamp-esque lob over the Ludogorets keeper to make it 1-0 to the hosts. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, getting the start on the wing ahead of youngster Alex Iwobi, played Sanchez onside and the Chilean feinted his defender before lofting the ball over goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov to give Arsenal an early lead. A beautiful finish and one of the Sanchez's finest in an Arsenal shirt.

But the Bulgarians didn't give up and tested David Ospina a couple of times. The visitors gave the Arsenal defence something to think about and made sure the Gunners took them seriously.

However, in the 42nd minute Theo Walcott took aim from outside the box, and curled an unstoppable effort past the Ludogorets keeper to extend the lead. The Englishman is in a rich vein of form and can't put a foot wrong at the moment. At half time with the score 2-0, the game looked to be past the Bulgarians but the Gunners weren't finished just yet.

With less than a minute gone in the second half, Arsenal poured forwards and the ball fell to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who side-footed the ball perfectly into the corner to make it 3-0. The game was over at this stage but a certain German playmaker wanted more.

Mesut Ozil took the second half by the scruff of the neck and made the game all about him, netting a sumptuous hat trick. It was the first hat trick of the midfielder's career and he took each goal with confidence, especially his third, a volley in the 87th minute. Ozil deservedly took home the match ball after one of his finest Champions League performances. For a player not known for his finishing ability, to net a European hat trick is some accomplishment. I could definitely get used to Ozil scoring on a regular basis.

Arsenal now top Group A on goal difference and have set themselves up nicely ahead of Saturday's game against Middlesbrough. I'll be at the Emirates this weekend for my second visit of the season, as I managed to get tickets in the Clock End. Here's hoping the Gunners can ride this momentum and keep pace in the league with another win.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Tough Win At Turf Moor

Sunday 2 October 2016
Burnley 0 Arsenal 1

Arsenal left it very late but snatched all 3 points in a tough match against a spirited Burnley side, emerging as 1-0 victors to win their fifth game in a row and keep pace in the Premier League.

As Arsene Wenger celebrated 20 years' service at the club he has revolutionised, his team looked like they were still recovering from the party, as they struggled to breakdown an organised and stubborn Burnley unit. As the match drew to a close, both sides looked capable of snatching the winner but it was Arsenal who took their chance.

With seconds left in the match, an Arsenal corner was played short to Alexis Sanchez, whose whipped in cross found the head of Theo Walcott. The winger could only graze the ball but his effort fell to a free Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the back post, who struck the ball into captain Laurent Koscielny. It clearly struck Koscielny on the arm but the ball had found it's way into the back of the net and Arsenal had nicked it 1-0 with the last kick of the game. It's telling that Koscielny, a player who always gives everything for the club, was in that position (as he often is late in games), and got yet another crucial goal. He makes a habit of scoring these vital winners.

Turf Moor is not an easy place to get points (just ask Liverpool) and the home side can definitely feel aggrieved at today's result. It was an unfair result on Burnley, who had grafted hard for the point and deserved at least that. But Arsenal will not care one bit when they look back at this result come season's end. With Man City dropping their first points of the season to Tottenham, it was crucial Arsenal keep pace with the front runners and capitalise on City's misfortune.

They (whoever "they" are) say a team shows championship-winning qualities when matches are won despite not playing well. It's still very early in the season but perhaps Arsenal have shown some of that quality and character today. Only in May will we know how important today's victory might prove to be.

When the Gunners return from the international break they will host Swansea on Saturday 15 October and must beware complacency against the Welsh side, who have caused Arsenal a few problems at The Emirates in recent years. Let's hope all of our players return uninjured and can retain this winning momentum.

Thanks for reading.