The Independent London Newspaper
14th December 2018

Quality keeps Gunners at top of their group

    Published: 29 September, 2016
    by ELLA JESSELL

    A BEAMING Arsene Wenger praised his side for a “top quality” display last night (Wednesday) after watching Arsenal overpower FC Basel 2-0 to keep them top of their Champions League group. 

    Theo Walcott’s double sunk the Swiss visitors, following up a dominant display against Chelsea in the Premier League on the weekend with a rampant display of attacking football that left the Emirates crowd cooing in delight. 

    Speaking after the game, the Arsenal boss said his team’s “belief” had come from the weekend’s 3-0 derby win, adding: “It was a first half of top quality, the pace, the quality of our movement, our technical quality, and we created many dangerous situations.” 

    It took the Gunners, dressed in yellow and black to avoid strip-clashes, just six minutes to score when Walcott threw himself at Alexis Sanchez’s looping cross and headed the ball into the back of the net. 

    It was the start of a relentless assault on Tomas Vaclík’s goal and the pair combined again for Walcott’s second which saw the rejuvenated winger drill a shot low into the corner of the net to complete a lovely team move. 

    Asked whether it was his sit-down conversation with Walcott that had inspired his winger, who has scored four goals in three games, Wenger said: “It is not the chat that makes you score goals, he assessed well where he stands and rectified well what he has to add to his game, and that’s down to him, 95 per cent down to him.” 

    Whatever it was, his dizzying pace, when added to some majestic linking exchanges between Sanchez, Alex Iwobi and Mesut Ozil proved a lethal combination that left the shell-shocked Swiss visitors chasing shadows. 

    But despite the first-half onslaught, FC Basel later dug in and refused to let it become a trouncing. As the hosts missed chance after chance, Basel upped the tempo with midfielder Birkir Bjarnason forcing a fine save from Ospina with a decent strike from 20 yards out. 

    But nothing could spoil the Gunners’ night, and by the time Walcott and Iwobi were substituted late on to standing ovations, any hope of a Basel comeback had been smothered with more expert passing.

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