Arsenal made Napoli look like an ordinary side on Tuesday evening at the Emirates by handing the Serie A leaders a convincing 2-0 defeat in the European Champions League. The Gunners now sit on top of Group F with a pair of wins. They beat Marseille on the road 2-1 in their first contest and will meet up with Borussia Dortmund, last season’s runners up, in their next tournament fixture. It was Napoli’s first loss of the season in all competitions.
Arsenal got off to a flying start and that’s really all they needed against a tame Napoli side that seemed devoid of ideas and creativity. Having Napoli’s Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain sitting on the bench because of an injury didn’t hurt the Premier League side’s chances either. After jumping out to an early lead, Arsenal more or less breezed through the rest of the game without much resistance at all from the visitors much to the dismay of Spanish manager Rafael Benitez.
In the eighth minute midfielder Aaron Ramsey raced down the right wing and sent a perfect pass over to a wide open Mesut Ozil who guided the ball into the net from 18 yards out. It was the German international’s first career goal in a Gunners uniform since joining in the summer from Real Madrid. Olivier Giroud celebrated his 27th birthday, which was the day before, by doubling the score from five yards out at the quarter hour mark.
Ozil cut inside into the 18-yard box from the right side and fed the ball over to Giroud who lifted it into the net past Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina. It was the French striker’s third goal in his past five Champions League starts and sixth in all competitions so far this season. From that point on it was clear sailing for the Gunners. They created a few more chances during the reminder of the match, but couldn’t cash in on them.
Arsenal has now racked up 10 consecutive victories in all competition since losing 3-1 to Aston Villa on opening day of the Premier League. Midfield playmaker Tomas Rosicky returned to the Gunners lineup after missing the past few games with an injury. He started the match while Jack Wilshere took a spot on the bench. Wilshere then got into the game after 63 minutes when the replaced the Czech Republic international.
It was a fine performance all around for the Premier League leaders and manager Arsene Wenger will be glad the squad managed to get through the 90 minutes without picking up any new injuries. Arsenal’s next contest is a league clash in at the Hawthorns in Birmingham against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday October 6.
Arsenal Player Ratings-Tues. Oct.1
Arsenal 2-0 Napoli –Champions League Group F Match 2
Wojciech Szczesny – 6.5
You can’t really blame the keeper for not having anything to do. His toughest task was trying to keep his focus.
Bacary Sagna – 6.5
Sagna played better defensively than offensively, but that’s his game. He fed Giroud to get things started on Ozil’s goal.
Per Mertesacker – 7
Mertesacker’s strength today was his passing. He also defended well and had a solid match overall.
Laurent Koscielny – 7
This was a good game for the French international with no glaring mistakes. He even had a good scoring chance, but unfortunately couldn’t convert it.
Kieran Gibbs – 6.5
A steady game by Gibbs, who wasn’t really pressured much at all by Napoli.
Mathieu Flamini – 7
Another solid game by Flamini since returning to the team. Tackled well and held the fort in the midfield.
Mikel Arteta -6.5
A pretty good game by Arteta considering he missed the start of the season with an injury. His passing was right on the mark and his strong point.
Tomas Rosicky – 6.5
This was Rosicky’s first game back after missing a few with an injury. He wasn’t in top form, but still had a decent game. He was taken off after 63 minutes and replaced by Wilshere.
Aaron Ramsey – 7.5
Ramsey continues to play as well as he ever has. He was all over the pitch and set up Ozil with an excellent pass. He also put in his fair share of tackles. Was taken off after 88 minutes and replaced by Nacho Monreal.
Mesut Ozil – 8
Ozil continues to impress as a Gunner. He scored his first goal for the team and set up the other. His goal was something to behold and his passing was excellent as usual.
Olivier Giroud – 7.5
Giroud helped create Ozil’s goal and then added his own just seven minutes later with a fine finish. It’s good to see him get back on the score sheet with his sixth of the season.
Jack Wilshere – 7
Came on for Rosicky after 63 minutes and played as well as he usually does.
Nacho Monreal- N/A
Came on for Ramsey after 88 minutes
Wenger highlighted the importance of not getting carried away with this, given that it has only just turned October, but given the recent history, who can blame the fans for getting a bit carried away.