Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker (c), Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Alexis, Welbeck
Subs: Ospina, Coquelin, Bellerin, Rosicky, Wilshere, Campbell, Podolski
Arsenal secured their first Champions League win with a convincing 4-1 win over Galatasaray at the Emirates this evening, despite playing the last 25 minutes with 10 men.
After the spate of weekend injuries, Arsene Wenger brought Mathieu Flamini, Santi Cazorla and Alexis back into the the starting line-up, with Jack Wilshere not risked from the off after the ankle knock he suffered against Sp*rs.
After the disappointment of dropping points in the derby at the weekend, Arsenal were looking for a bright start, and a smart Danny Welbeck run forced a couple of early corners and Santi Cazorla saw a shot from distance blocked.
Telles had a good chance for the visitors in the 11th minute, curling a shot wide from inside the box after good build-up play, before Kieran Gibbs, on the end of an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross saw his volley deflected wise. There’s no need for me to tell you the corner came to nothing.
Alexis looked for Welbeck in the 20th minute only for Melo to clear, but soon afterwards the two combined to put the Gunners ahead. The Chilean picked up the ball down the left hand side, played a nice reverse pass to Welbeck who took a touch and prodded it between the keeper’s legs from close range. 1-0.
The former Barcelona man seemed to fancy a goal and after good work with Ozil fired a shot wide, but it was Welbeck who had the eye for the target doubling the lead in the 30th minute. The England international caught Melo out dawdling on a bouncing ball, he headed it forward, held off the defender and finished in Thierry Henry style into the far corner with a side-footed effort. 2-0.
He almost had his hat-trick a couple of minutes later, but his left footed drive from inside the box was saved by the Galatasaray keeper. At the other end Pandev saw a shot saved from close range before the visitors had a lucky escape when Felipe Melo was only shown a yellow card for a disgusting, two-footed tackle on Alexis. It should have been a red, but the referee bottled it.
Alexis exacted his revenge in the best possible way though, with a goal. It began at the back when Mertesacker won a great tackle, fed Ozil in midfield who played the forward into the box. He cut inside and finished into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 to Arsenal.
The game was stopped for a while when the Turkish fans tried to distract from how shit their team were by trying to set fire to the pitch, but Arsenal weren’t distracted and took the three goal lead into the half-time break.
Galatasaray made a half-time change, putting on Altintop for Yekta and reverting to a back four,which saw them more involved in the game forcing a couple of early corners which Arsenal dealt with.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, set free by Alexis, drove into the box but couldn’t find the final ball for Ozil, but moments later he was the provider for the fourth Gunners goal. Arsenal worked it from left to right, the Ox slipped a ball behind the defence and with the keeper onrushing Danny Welbeck dinked it over him from close range for his hat-trick (the first of his career). 4-0.
The Turkish responded with an Altintop shot from distance which flew wide, but were given a vague lifeline when Arsenal were reduced to 10 men. Yilmaz was played through, Szczesny came out, missed the ball and the player ran into him, dived in the air and the referee produced a red card.
Arsene Wenger brought on David Ospina for Alexus, and Yilmaz took the penalty to make it 4-1. Tomas Rosicky replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Galatasaray looked to get back in the game. Ospina had to make a save from Dzemali but Arsenal still threatened.
Welbeck headed a Cazorla cross over not knowing Rosicky was unmarked just behind him, before Sneijder fired a shot just wide. Jack Wilshere came on to replace Mesut Ozil who left the pitch to a standing ovation because of his performance as the Sky commentators tried to make out that he was poor. Almost as if they had a pre-ordained agenda.
Arsenal had the substitute keeper to thank for keeping the three goal lead, as he made a great save to deny the vistirors. Cazorla lost the ball in midfield, Galatasaray crossed to the back post, Yilmaz headed it at goal but the Colombian hung in the air and pushed the ball away.
He was forced into action again, saving with his legs from Altintop while Danny Welbeck produced a storming run from inside his own half which almost resulted in a clear cut chance – his workrate and energy were so impressive.
Ospina had to save again from Sneijder, getting down well to his near post, while right at the death it was almost 5-1. Cazorla was played in by Wilshere, his first touch was a bit heavy, he dinked it over the keeper but didn’t have enough power to go in before the defender cleared.
In the end though, a comfortable win made a bit uncomfortable due to the red card, but overall a much better performance from Arsenal and a thoroughly deserved three points.
Now for Chelsea.