Post-Match Report

Arsenal 2-0 FC Basel - Match report

Basel -

Emirates Stadium
UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League
  Arsenal
      
                  Walcott (8
                   26)
            
   crest
Arsenal
Walcott (8
26)
2 0
  Basel
   crest
Basel

SUMMARY

Theo Walcott stole the show as Arsenal sauntered to their first Champions League win of the season.

Picking up where he left off against Chelsea, Walcott put Basel to the sword with two first-half goals amid one of his finest Arsenal displays.

The 27-year-old raced into the box to head home Alexis’ cross, and he added a second with a low drive after a slick one-two with Alexis.

Basel keeper Tomas Vaclik kept the score down with fine saves from Hector Bellerin, Alexis and Nacho Monreal, while Mesut Ozil could have had a couple himself.

The score could have been anything at half-time and, although the tempo dropped after the break, this was still an emphatic Arsenal victory.

The Gunners go joint-top of Group A with Paris Saint-Germain. And with such ability and mobility, they could go a long way in Europe. 

SETTING THE SCENE

This time last year we followed a striking league victory at Leicester with a shock home defeat to Olympiacos.

So although the feelgood factor could be felt all around Emirates Stadium after that exhilarating win over Chelsea, there was a note of caution too.

This was our first ever meeting with Basel and it wasn’t without subplots.

Granit Xhaka - up against his former club and his brother Taulant - replaced the injured Francis Coquelin. Mohamed Elneny - who swapped Basel for north London in January - was among the substitutes.

And a quirk of colours meant we wore yellow for the first time at the Emirates, Uefa ruling that our home strip clashed with both of Basel’s kits.

There was a second change to the side that outclassed Chelsea, David Ospina returning in goal. Few eyebrows were raised after the Colombian’s stellar performance in Paris. 

FIRST HALF

Saturday’s performance was all the evidence you needed to know that Walcott is back to his best. The first half here just confirmed it.

Pace, skill, desire - Walcott had it all. He blocked bravely, linked play cleverly and, when his chances came, he had the determination and ruthlessness to take them.

Santi Cazorla’s ball into the left-hand channel set up the first. Alexis raced onto it and stood up a first-time cross that most players couldn’t have reached. Not Walcott - he sprinted, leapt and thumped a header into the net.

The second showcased different qualities. Walcott drew a defender, timed the release of his pass to perfection and raced into space to receive the return from Alexis. The finish was unerring, in off the far post.

Monreal tested Vaclik in the Basel goal following good work from Alex Iwobi. And Alexis would surely have scored if Adama Traore’s covering challenge hadn’t been perfect.

Walcott, Bellerin and Cazorla combined to open up Basel again, only for Vaclik to deny Alexis. The Basel keeper was in the thick of it now and he stopped Alexis again and saved from Bellerin as Arsenal poured forward. 

SECOND HALF

As at the weekend, scintillating forward play made way for watchfulness as a quieter second half unfolded.

Arsenal did not need to chase goals, but chances came anyway.

Alexis dispossessed Marek Suchy and selflessly looked to feed Ozil, but Taulant Xhaka got back to intercept. Then Iwobi strode through to jab a shot just wide of the post.

Birkir Bjarnason, who famously helped Iceland knock England out of Euro 2016, tested Ospina with a swerving effort from 20 yards and then wasted a more presentable chance.

It was a reminder - the job was not quite done yet.

It should have been when Alexis met Walcott’s dinked cross, but he guided a shot wide from eight yards.

On came Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs as Wenger freshened up his tiring team. They helped shore up a result that, frankly, never seemed in doubt.

Referee: Danny Makkelie
Attendance: 59993