Alexis on Form as Gunners Thrash Dinamo Zagreb
Arsenal 3 (Ozil 29′, Sanchez 33′, 69′) – Dinamo Zagreb 0
The Gunners knew that they had a job they had to do – defeat Dinamo Zagreb and hope for Bayern Munich to do them a favor at the Allianz Arena. With this in mind, many Arsenal fans watched their game and had half an eye on the proceedings in Germany. With barely 10 minutes gone, Douglas Costa made it 1-0 for Bayern and a rout was on the cards when Robert Lewandowski doubled their money. Meanwhile, at the Emirates, the away team was pressing, yes, pressing the Gunners. That got me so confused as I was thinking to myself, ‘we are hoping on Bayern to do us a favor and yet, here we are not even doing our own bit?’
There was some anxiety in the crowd with each passing minute and it was important for the Gunners to get the first goal. With Aaron Ramsey making the bench, Joel Campbell probably knew his time in the starting XI was pretty much over but how did he respond to that? A virtuoso performance that would go down as probably his finest in Arsenal colors. He passed the ball well, connected with his teammates, supported Hector Bellerin, made some good tackles and topped it all up with a wonderful assist to Sanchez for the match clincher.
Arsenal scored the first goal in typical Arsenal fashion – brilliant intricate passing play that saw Alexis released on the far side before he attempted a low cross that was headed some by the awesome Mesut Ozil. He has spent so much time assisting his teammate so I was very elated when he scored one for himself. That goal took the wind off the sails of the visitors and it was Arsenal all the way. Alexis had not scored in six games after his hot streak and he was hoping to get in on the scoring act but he had Nacho Monreal to thank for his goal as the Spaniard showed great determination to win the ball before teeing up Alexis for an easy tap-in.
Going in 2-0 in the break was what the home side wanted and with Bayern Munich inflicting further damage on Olympiakos, the stage was setting for a battle at Athens in a fortnight. Alexis got a brace for his good work and at 3-0, the game was pretty much over. The game also saw Ramsey return to first team football after some weeks out and there was the ‘football education’ as a holding midfielder for Calum Chambers. In all honesty, I haven’t been convinced of Chambers’ ability as a holding midfielder after his horror show at St. Mary’s last season and his cameo didn’t do anything to convince me as he was sloppy in possession and looked a bit out of his depth in that role.
On the bright side, there were no further injuries to contend with and every member of the squad played so well. Petr Cech had a relatively untroubled game but he still had to keep his concentration levels high when Laurent Koscielny cleared a ball that ricocheted off Mathieu Flamini and was destined for the net but Cech was on hand to make a quick reaction save. Hector Bellerin almost had another ‘Bayern Munich’ moment when he showed off his reserves of pace in a counter attack but the defender cleared the ball to safety before he could locate Ozil or Giroud.
All attention will be moved to the Premier League, as the Gunners face Norwich in the Premier League. More of that in the coming days.
The group is relatively poised and the Gunners have it all to do in two weeks time when they face Olympiakos at Athens.
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