With a huge favour from Ludogrets, Arsenal pulled off what was would’ve been a shock at the start of the day, by topping Group A in the Champions League. Our 4-1 away at Basel bettered PSG’s 2-2 home draw with Bulgarian outfit Ludogrets Razgrad.
From kick off Arsenal were professional and clinical, Lucas Perez and Gibbs were two players that played in a slightly rotated side, that proved their worth as squad players, whilst contending for a place in the starting line up with impressive performances. The duo combined three times for three goals. Kieran Gibbs particularly impressed me, his career has yet to get into gear, and although it was only Basel, Gibbs put in an accomplished performance. Gibbs’ performance should give Wenger a happy headache over his left back options, considering Monreal’s inconsistent form so far this season. Personally I like that left hand side of Iwobi and Gibbs, against weaker opposition (like on Tuesday) the pair work well going into forward areas. As Martin Keown mentioned, Alex Iwobi’s tendency to come central opens up the left flank and Gibbs can progress and create danger. Although in context, it must be remembered that Basel aren’t a great side, over the two games against the Swiss champions they hardly threatened us.
Despite this it must be added that St. Jakob Park is no easy place to go, and we did well to glide through the match as we did. Complacency towards the end cost us a goal, with Rob Holding getting caught on the ball. Holding, like Gibbs and Perez, came in and had a good performance. He is a player with a lot of potential, and playing with Koscielny will only improve him. Defensively he looks like a stronger and more assured centre half than Callum Chambers, although Chambers has impressed at ‘Boro.
Of course Perez must be mentioned too, three well taken goals and a hat trick that must boost his confidence. The Spaniard has struggled to adapt to squad it seems, with his injury doing no favours. Alexis’ position up front is not under any threat, but Perez’s efficiency in front of goal could see him become a regular out wide, where we don’t get enough goals.
Arsenal of years gone by wouldn’t have used PSG’s slip up to their advantage, we would’ve gone to Olympiacos for example, and our kids would’ve been beaten by 2 or 3, but increasingly there’s a feeling this Arsenal squad is different, more resilient. Ludogrets did do us a favour, and although finishing first has less of a difference with Bayern and Real in Pot 2, it will keep our momentum going.
Ospina – 7, Gabriel 7, Holding – 6, Koscielny – 7, Gibbs – 8, Xhaka -8, Ramsey – 7, Perez – 9, Ozil – 8, Iwobi – 7.5, Sanchez – 7