Arsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Four talking points
Arsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Four talking points as the Gunners are emphatic winners at The Emirates
Arsenal run riot
Arsenal were in scintillating form in the first half – or at least from when the first goal went in after 22 minutes courtesy of Danny Welbeck. The front four of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Welbeck linked up with speed and skill, and Galatasaray simply couldn’t handle them. What is really promising is the options this performance gives Arsenal. Before when Ozil and/or Cazorla have played wide in Arsene Wenger’s 4-2-3-1 formation, they have sometimes looked to slow things down and cut inside to more congested areas. But Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain ran defenders ragged down the wings. Admittedly, this season Arsenal will come up against far meaner defences – and defensive systems (more later) – but this attacking performance should really please their fans. Especially considering Aaron Ramsey wasn’t playing here and that there’s a certain Mr Walcott to come back into the equation soon.
And the Turkish fans cause a riot…
Unsurprisingly, Galatasaray fans were not happy with their performance in the first half. Nor would you expect your fans to be at 2-0 down after half an hour. However, you wouldn’t expect your fans to start throwing flares on to the pitch. The referee and Wesley Sneijder, wisely trying to calm down the situation, had to go over and stomp out about a half dozen of them towards the end of the first half.
Cesare Prandelli had come to The Emirates saying he would “have a go”. In fairness, that they did, with Alex Telles, the left-wing back, all the way up pressing Calum Chambers. Indeed, it was Telles who had the first shot on goal. But their 3-5-2 left them woefully unprepared to defend Arsenal’s front four. As Welbeck was the lone striker, there was three men to cover him. Yet – especially with Telles off on adventures down the wing and other wing back Veysel Sari frankly a bit anonymous – no one was really covering wide men Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain (not that they really got the better of the midfielders even when close to them, but you do not want to set yourself up for a loss). An admission of the tactical failure, the manager changed things up at half-time, reverting to a 4-4-2 to combat the threat out wide. It helped a little bit, though a lot of the change in momentum was down to the red card and penalty – and the fact Arsenal could afford to sit back. Anyway, by this time the horse had already bolted and the damage was done.
Wel-beck on form
I asked on these pages a few weeks ago following Welbeck’s fine international showing against Switzerland and disappointing performance against Dortmund – what side of the former Manchester United player would turn up for Arsenal. The skilful, pacy, powerful striker with fine finishes? Or the kind-of wasteful one, who scored just 10 goals in 36 appearances in his last season at United? That record, indicative of his general goals-to-games ratio, is far from terrible, especially considering he was often played out on the right at United. But it’s also far from suggestive of a world class striker. He now has four from five for Arsenal. Of course it’s early days, but what will be heartening for Arsenal fans will be the quality finishing here, going some way to dispelling many lingering doubts about him, and probably even more so his link up with the midfield. The split-second changing of his run and threaded ball from Sanchez, particularly, showed an almost telepathic understanding between the two. Impressive, considering they have only started three games together. Wenger will be hoping for much of the same as the season progresses. And, if Welbeck stays fit and in-form, the return of Olivier Giroud will prove a nice dilemma for the Frenchman.