Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Ozil orchestrates Napoli's nightmare evening in N5 -Giroud outstanding, Flamini fantastic

Morning Gooners.

What a result. What a performance. What an atmosphere. Last night at the Grove saw the total demolition of  a Napoli side which had come to north London full of confidence and expecting to get some sort of result against us. Instead we sent them back to Italy with no points and a lesson in how to play attacking football at its best alongside a more pragmatic game of how to defend a lead.

While the first half saw this Arsenal team come alive on the European stage with a performance which stunned their opponents, the second half was a display of how to not let the opposition have any way back into the game.

Tactically Arsene Wenger rung rings around Rafa Benitez. He promoted Mikel Arteta to the starting line up in place of Jack Wilshere and brought in the experience of Tomas Rosicky at the expense of the youth of Serge Gnabry.  

Arteta would play a deep role alongside Flamini, while Aaron Ramsey was pushed forward to interchange with Rosicky and Mesut Ozil. The three would constantly rotate their position in order to bamboozle their opponents. It certainly worked as after only eight minutes we were in the lead.

Bacary Sagna played the ball into Olivier Giroud on the right, who took it on his chest before playing it into Ramsey's path. The pass Giroud made took out two Napoli defenders and allowed Ramsey the chance to run into the final third before picking out a cross which found Ozil in the middle of the pitch. The German's first time shot beat Pepe Reina easily to his right.

Arsenal's record signing made the chance look easy... as if any player could take the ball at that speed and direct it home with the first touch. It gets better and better each time you watch it.

Ozil was influential again in the second goal, setting it up for Giroud. A defensive error on the left of the Napoli defence allowed Flamini to win the ball back and he played it to Giroud. The Frenchman released Ozil into space behind the left back and the German drove into the box. Giroud had continued his run and got on the end of Ozil's cross to put Arsenal 2-0 up after just 14 minutes.

Arsenal had upped their game and Napoli had no response. Wenger's ploy of playing Ozil, Ramsey and Rosicky allowed the three to inter-change positions and the trio's movement was too much for Benitez's side to deal with.

Another Wenger tactical masterstroke was to play Arteta alongside Flamini. The pair made it impossible for the Italians to create anything through the middle of the park. And behind the central midfield pairing, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny prevented the Italians from having any shots on target in the first half.

The second period saw Arsenal tighten the screw even further. There was no way Napoli were going to breach Arsenal's defensive lines and it wasn't until the 70th minute the visitors had their one and only shot on target from outside the area which the otherwise unemployed Wojciech Szczesny easily dealt with.

It was great that we were able to keep a clean sheet and hopefully that will breed confidence within this team that they can defend as brilliantly as they can attack

I thought Olivier Giroud was outstanding. He arguably had one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt last night. He was everywhere. He's improved so much as a player since he joined Arsenal and his confidence must be sky high. He bullied the Napoli defence, played a key role in our first goal and scored our second and was also our first line of defence when we didn't have the ball.

Further behind him his compatriot Flamini was fantastic. He organised, cajoled his teammates and then bullied the opposition into their downfall. I think he's been an excellent addition to the squad and someone vocal on the pitch who's brought all his experience into this side.

Ramsey - what more can you say about a player who is having the season of his career. Long may it continue.

I thought the manger got it spot on. He can rightly take the plaudits from this win and it was great to hear his name sung with such gusto by those in the stadium last night. He got pelters after the first game of the season and his judgement questioned, but it's clear he's still held in very high regard by the majority of Gooners and credit where it's due, he got it spot on last night with everything he did.

And finally to the crowd. The atmosphere last night was great. It was good to hear the old North Bank / Clock End / East Stand songs being sung. It brought me back to our days at Highbury and I think last night was the first time at the Grove where they've been sung continuously for long periods. Long may it continue.

So top of the league. Top of our champions league group. Maybe, just maybe..... But lets not get too ahead of ourselves just yet. But we can still dream....

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