A Mezut Ozil-inspired Arsenal continued their great form with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over high-flying Napoli in the UEFA Champions League at the Emirates Stadium.
The German opened the scoring with his first goal for the club and then set up Olivier Giroud to double the lead within just 15 minutes.
Arsenal put in a masterful display to see out the game against a Serie A side that sit fourth in their league table but were without top scorer Gonzalo Higuain with a hamstring injury.
The atmosphere inside the stadium at kick-off was a good one as Arsenal have bounced back from a disastrous opening day defeat to Aston Villa with great form that has took them top of the Premier League. They also won their opening European game away to Marseille, but Arsene Wenger was wary about Napoli’s threat in the pre-match build up.
Rafael Benitez’s side were hit with a blow the day before the game when Higuain pulled up in training and was ruled out of the match, so the Italian side were missing their main man for this crunch Group F meeting. It was expected to be a tight game, but a lightening Arsenal start meant the visiting side were behind within eight minutes.
Giroud showed a brilliant piece of hold-up play before spreading the ball wide for Aaron Ramsey to race on to and the Welsh midfielder, who has been praised by pundits for his good start to the season, put the ball on a plate for Ozil to smash in his first goal for the Gunners. It was a fantastic first time finish from the summer signing as he used his side-foot to control the ball into the corner past a helpless Jose Reina.
The German turned into a creator role just seven minutes later as Arsenal’s French spearhead of their attack made it 2-0. Ozil took advantage of Raul Albiol’s inability to clear the ball by racing to the byline and fizzing in a low cross while Giroud had timed his run perfectly to tap in at the near post from four yards. It was scintillating football by Arsenal, who looked unplayable for the first 15 minutes.
Napoli were struggling to get into the game, but a set-piece afforded them a great opportunity to pull a goal back in the 22nd minute. Lorenzo Insigne’s inswing corner fell to Miguel Britos from six yards out, but he couldn’t get it on target as he headed over and with that, Arsenal controlled the rest of the game.
They did give Napoli another sniff of getting back into the game and could have made it 3-0 with twelve minutes to go. Ozil’s dinked cross was flicked on by Mikel Arteta into the path of Laurent Koscienly, but Reina made a miraculous save to keep out the French defender’s goal-bound volley from close range. It was a terrific save, but all Arsenal will care about is another impressive victory which equals a club record of ten consecutive wins which dates back to their ‘Invincible’ 2003-04 unbeaten season.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)