Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Ozil, Iwobi, Walcott, Alexis
Subs: Cech, Gibbs, Gabriel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, The Jeff, Elneny, Lucas
Arsenal fashioned a host of chances and had two first half Theo Walcott goals to show as they beat FC Basel 2-0 at the Emirates this evening.
Arsene Wenger made two changes from the team that beat Chelsea 3-0 (haha Costa) last weekend, with David Ospina coming in for Petr Cech in goal and Granit Xhaka starting in place of the injured Francis Coquelin.
There was an early sight of goal for Alexis Sanchez after his smart movement from a quick free kick, but the defender got back to rob him. Nacho Monreal was the first to test the keeper but saw his effort saved before the Gunners took an 8th minute lead.
Santi Cazorla found Alexis down the left hand side, he lofted a cross into the area and Walcott, running onto it, scored with a determined close range header. 1-0.
Arsenal were on top in midfield where Xhaka looked ever more comfortable. Basel had their first chance of the game when Suchy headed wide from a 15th minute corner, before Walcott blocked a shot on the edge of the box.
The England man was in the mood to do more at the other end of the pitch though, and in the 26th minute doubled the lead. Arsenal worked the ball through midfield, Walcott took it on, played a 1-2 with Alexis then drilled a shot in to the bottom corner off the far post. 2-0.
It might have been more just minutes later when brilliant football from Walcott and Bellerin found space down the right. The ball came to Cazorla in the box, he fed Alexis whose chipped shot was saved. It would have been a fantastic goal.
More superb football saw Walcott create a chance for Bellerin which the keeper came out quickly to save, and seconds after that Mesut Ozil had a brilliant opportunity to get on the scoresheet but poked wide with his left foot when maybe he should have used his right.
Alexis had another one saved after more excellent build-up, and in truth should have put the game out of sight before the half-time break. There was another chance for Ozil after Alexis crossed to the back post, and found the German’s run, but he put it into the side netting, ensuring the two goal lead at the break.
The second period began with plenty of Arsenal possession as we looked to extend the lead. Walcott was caught offside after an Alexis pass, and the Chilean almost replicated his goal against Chelsea (haha Costa) at the weekend when he robbed the defender. This time he tried to find Ozil at the back post but saw it intercepted.
Iwobi toe-bogged one just wide after racing through from midfield, Cazorla should have found a better final pass after more superb play set him free down the left, before Ospina was forced into his first real action, tipping over Bjarnason’s shot from the edge of the Arsenal box.
The Icelandic international should have scored moments later when the ball came to him at the back post, but he skewed his shot over the bar. It wasn’t the worst chance missed, because Alexis topped it not long afterwards. Cazorla fed Walcott, he pulled it back for the Chilean who put it wide from about 8 yards out – he really should have scored.
Arsene Wenger made his first changes in the 70th minute bringing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mohamed Elneny for Iwobi and Walcott, and 5 minutes later gave Kieran Gibbs a run-out in place of Monreal.
Basel made some changes themselves that I don’t care about enough to go into, and the game itself went a bit flat as it headed into the final ten minutes.
Some nifty work between Alexis and Gibbs sparked some OLEs, and the Arsenal striker won a free kick on the edge of the box when he was clipped after a mazy run. Cazorla hit it into the wall.
Ospina made another good save when Basel found too much space, Oxlade-Chamberlain sjhould have done better when he rounded the keeper, and the Basel stopper made another save seconds later from corner stopping a goal-bound Alexis effort with his goolies.
It was the last opportunity of the game, there was a lot to be encouraged about, and it was a well deserved win for Wenger’s team.