Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ozil, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Monreal, Wilshere, Gnabry, Bendtner
Arsenal took three valuable points after a 2-0 win over Napoli in the Champions League this evening.
Arsene Wenger made two changes from the side that beat Swansea at the weekend with Mikel Arteta replacing Jack Wilshere in midfield while a fit again Tomas Rosicky came in for Serge Gnabry.
It meant Rosicky on the left, Ramsey on the right and Ozil playing behind Giroud with Arteta and Flamini anchoring, but as you’d expect it was a lot more fluid than that.
After a positive start, in which they forced a couple of early corners, Mesut Ozil put the Gunners ahead in the 8th minute.
It came from a brilliant Arsenal move. Giroud flicked it to Ramsey down the right hand side, the Welshman pulled the ball back from out wide to the edge of the box, and the German’s first time, side-footed finish beat Reina for his first Arsenal goal. 1-0 (GIF).
And in the 15th minuteOzil turned provider. Giroud laid it off to the German who took it to the byline, he waited for Giroud’s run and clipped it into his path for a close range finish. Lovely movement from the Frenchman but the pass was just perfect, he couldn’t miss. 2-0.
Napoli were punch drunk for a bit but worked their way back into the game. Insigne fired a 30 yard shot over the bar before Britos headed not too far wide from a corner.
Ramsey showed his attacking threat, having a close range shot blocked by Albiol before Callejon fired a free kick over the Arsenal bar when he really should have tested Wojciech Szczesny.
Ramsey and Ozil continued to combine to good effect although once in the final third Arsenal found Napoli more difficult to break down, and Benitez instructed his players to press us higher up the pitch, stretching the play but making it more difficult to find a breakthrough.
Still, with Ozil on the pitch and Ramsey in such form chances were created. Ozil played in the Welshman but his shot was blocked but an effort on target was saved by Reina before the referee’s whistle went for a foul by Flamini.
There was some concern over the Welshman as he seemed to pick up a knock with Jack Wilshere sent out to warm up but the half ended with the Gunners keeping their two goal lead and thoroughly deserving it after a fantastic half of football.
There were no half-time changes with Ramsey fit to continue and it was more of the same as Giroud created an early chance for Tomas Rosicky whose run was just a touch off, preventing a close range finish.
The Italians had a bit more of the ball in the second period, with Inler and Callejon shooting over the bar while Arsenal were a bit sloppy in possession. Tomas Rosicky in particular found his return to the side a bit more difficult than he might have liked.
The Czech was replaced in the 63rd minute by Jack Wilshere as the teams went through the second half motions. Although Napoli made life more difficult for Arsenal, there was no need for the home side to pres the issue with their two goal lead.
Benitez’s side seemed to be having a competition to see who could shoot the furthest over the bar with every effort flying into the stands. Insigne did get one on target in the 72nd minute but Szczesny dealt with it easily.
At the other end Reina made a great point blank save from Laurent Koscielny after Ozil crossed from Arsenal’s right as the game wound down. Napoli had little to offer from an attacking point of view while Arsenal were content to hang onto the lead they’d built in the first half.
Nacho Monreal came on for Aaron Ramsey in the 88th minute as Arsene Wenger sought to see the game out. As it came to a close there were Ole’s from the crowd as the Gunners passed it around, and in the end they took three very important points and sent another message about the strength of this team right now.