Much, much better from the players yesterday as they put the defeat against West Brom behind themselves and turned in a high tempo performance against the utterly outmatched Dinamo Zagreb side. This is the result that we all expected from the first meeting between the two as well, and although it was not to be in Croatia, the Gunners held up at home to pick up a classy three points.
Our Champions League hopes have been given a boost, but still rest on the last game against Olympiacos. The thrashing that Bayern imparted on the Greek side yesterday means that our task just got a whole lot easier, but we definitely have to win the away leg to progress. But before that, we resume our Premier League campaign against Norwich City this weekend, a game which we definitely have to win. Hopefully, the return of Ox and possibly Walcott ahead of that game will allow us to field a full strength attack once more.
There was hardly a foot put wrong by the players yesterday, and we secured a comfortable victory against a lesser side, precisely what we should be doing. The main takeaway of the night however was the impact of Alexis Sanchez on the side. The Chilean still does not seem fully recovered, and yet he scored a brace and assisted the third goal. That shows the quality that he can bring to bear and it is for this very reason that we need to do whatever it takes to keep Alexis fit and firing throughout the season.
Here are our player ratings for the game:
Petr Cech – 7.0
Quiet night between the sticks, but the Czech international always stays active and vocal; which is a reassuring presence to have at the back.
Hector Bellerin – 7.5
The young Spaniard once again displayed his vast attacking talents, dominating the right side of the field. He has quickly matured into one of the most important players in the current Arsenal setup and hopefully the club can hold on to him for a long time.
Laurent Koscielny – 6.5
Not much to do, the Frenchman took care of any threats that came near him.
Per Mertesacker – 6.0
A much better performance from the German defender, as he made several interceptions, which are his main strength. He was obviously helped by the lack of any true attacking threat from the Croatian side although this confidence will come in handy going forward.
Nacho Monreal – 7.5
Stellar performance from the left back, as he was much more active during attacks and made his impact felt by setting up Sanchez’s first goal with some brilliant awareness.
Mathieu Flamini – 6.5
Had a good night, and definitely made his presence felt; however I’m still not fully convinced by the Frenchman. He likes going forward too much, and against better opposition in the Premier League he could be caught out of position and cost us dearly. Let’s see how he does over the next couple of weeks.
Santi Cazorla – 7.0
Put his West Brom nightmare behind him with a dominant performance. He was back to his creative best against Zagreb, setting up the forwards and distributing the ball well.
Mesut Ozil – 8.5
MotM. The German is on fire, and cannot put a foot wrong at the moment. He was involved in all of our best moves, and was a constant threat in and around the opponent’s box. The goal was also very well taken, with a header worthy of a striker. His recent performances have boosted his confidence massively, and it shows in his desire to take shots himself. This is what Ozil is truly capable of, and let’s hope that we can keep him playing this way.
Alexis Sanchez – 8.5
Two goals and an assist from a player who has been playing literally non stop for several months now. The Chilean is simply on a different level compared to most of the team, and his sensational abilities were on full display yesterday night, despite the fact that he still seems a bit tired. When Sanchez finds his shooting boots, the entire team’s quality increases by several levels.
Olivier Giroud – 6.5
Giroud was very active and did his best, but struggled to get into really threatening positions yesterday night. He also had a couple of opportunities that maybe could have been taken better, but overall it was a decent performance.
Joel Campbell – 6.5
A much better showing from the Costa Rican, and his assist for Sanchez’s second goal was very good. However, he still seems a bit too rough and inconsistent to play regularly, and will definitely be replaced by Ramsey as soon as the Welshman regains full fitness.