It was another cracking display from Arsenal as the Bulgarian champions Ludogorets were thrashed 6:0. The Gunners were ruthless in front of the visitors goal and recorded the biggest Champions League win since 15th September 2010 when we battered Sporting Braga with the same scoreline.
Four different players got their names on the score-sheet including Mesut Özil who scored his first professional hat-trick. It would have been a perfect night if Basel had converted some of their chances in Paris but we top the group anyway.
Here are the key points from our victory.
1.Alexis Sánchez has channeled his inner Thierry Henry once again.
I’ve been saying for a long time that some of Alexis’ goals remind me of the greatest Arsenal goal-scorer of all time. Henry was capable of pulling a magical shot that nobody else in the stadium could have foreseen and Alexis has the same ability.
His opener against Ludogorets was from that category, he sent a delightful diagonal chip into the net. What was most impressive about the goal was that little moment when Alexis looked up to see where Vladislav Stoyanov was standing and then sent the ball over the goalkeeper with pin-point accuracy.
Alexis has been in great form since March with 13 goals for Arsenal to his name and another Copa America gold medal in his trophy room. Players with his hunger, quality and intelligence are extremely rare and that’s why we have to do whatever it takes to keep him at the club beyond 2018 when his contract expires.
2.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Lucas Perez have passed their audition.
It may sound weird to use the word “audition” for players that have been at Arsenal for as long as Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain but it’s appropriate one given their circumstances. Both players have lost their place in the starting line-up and neither of them are satisfied with the lack of playing time. That’s why their response on Wednesday night was so important. Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored three goals in three different competitions this season which already beats his last season tally of two goals in 33 appearances. He has been blamed for the lack of final product for years but he is on the right path to fixing that flaw with performances like the one against Ludogorets. Gibbs was also dangerous in the attack and played his part in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal. He is 27 and the best years are supposed to be ahead of him. If he manages to make the best out of Nacho Monreal’s dip in form, his career might still reach the heights he was destined for.
When it comes to our new signing Lucas Perez, his efficiency is incredible. He has already scored two goals and three assists despite the lack of playing time. His assists for Özil came from either wing which gives the impression he can be used in any of the three positions in attack. His strong runs and physical power should make him a real fit in English football.
3.Mesut Özil does what he wants.
The German scored his first ever hat-trick and it was special. After scoring his first two goals of the game with his supposedly weaker foot, Özil decided he wasn’t finished with showing his superhuman abilities so he capped his sensational performance with his third volley of the season. He has already scored six goals this season and at this rate, those fifteen goals Arsene Wenger has once asked of him might happen before 2017.
He is a joy to watch, world-class in every possible way, and if Wenger needs to break the bank in order to keep him beyond 2018 – let it be. Arsenal have the money to buy almost every player in the world but there is only one Mesut Özil. Danke schön, Herr Özil! Wir sind gesegnet, dass Sie für Arsenal spielen!
4.David Ospina does everything to make our Champions League campaign stress-free.
It sounds weird to praise the goalkeeper in a match that we won 6:0 but it wasn’t for Ospina, we would have had a really stressful evening with the Bulgarian champions. He denied their dangerous attempts to equalize and kept a clean sheet for the second time in a row. Whilst it is a bit far-fetched to compare Barcelona and Manchester City, Pep Guardiola might be a bit envious that we have a goalkeeper that likes to act as a sweeper-keeper without making a fool of himself. Ospina gave a heroic performance to frustrate PSG in the Champions League opener and added a couple of top saves against Basel to prevent any discomfort in our second match. After his performance against Ludogorets, we can say Arsenal are on their way to win the group thanks to the Colombian keeper.
5.Theo Walcott did it again.
Walcott’s third Champions League goal swept away any sign of the visitors’ resilience. It was an excellent strike from outside of the box, a strike that oozed both quality and confidence. Arsenal have been superb this season in terms of scoring goals as we have already scored 32 goals in all competitions and Walcott has scored a quarter of them. He is sharp, he is hungry for goals and makes runs behind the defence that essentially makes him our second striker. As you might have noticed, our attack looks a bit asymmetric with Theo making runs behind the defence with Hector Bellerin overloading the right side of our attack while our left winger Alex Iwobi stays a bit deeper. That’s how we stretch our opponents and create space for Alexis, Theo and Özil who have scored 20 of our 32 goals so far!
Our next game is against Middlesbrough at the Emirates again. If we win, we will spend at least 24 hours as the league leaders.