Tag Archives: Basel

Basel 1-4 Arsenal: 5 Keypoints From The Match

This match was set up to be the typical Arsenal Euro tie.

A necessity for rotation would see a weakened side rock up to St Jakob Park and lose with an insipid performance – only to see the result they were hanging on for come to fruition. 

Well, the script didn’t come into play, as the Gunners ran riot and won handsomely – all while rotating the squad just enough to rest some first teamers. 

Not only that, but Ludogorets defied the odds and grabbed a point in Paris – thus handing the Gunners top spot in the group.

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid may lay in wait in the knockout stages, but Arsenal have finished top of their group for the first time in five years.

A hat-trick from Lucas Perez and a fourth from Alex Iwobi earned the win in Switzerland, and the potentially tricky match against Stoke on Saturday will be a lot easier knowing Mustafi, Cech, Theo and a few others will be far fresher than if they were to have played against Basel.

Also, confidence will have been imbued within some of our players who have flitted in and out of the side. 

All positives! 

Here are 5 key points from the 90mins:
Lucas Perez up to speed

The Spaniard was only declared fully fit last week, and played in the EFL Cup loss to Southampton. Yet he showed great instinct to score his first two and grabbed his Hattrick with his right foot with a smart finish. Lucas could be a great option with so many fixtures coming up.
Gibbs with 3 assists

Gibbs has been the epitome of professionalism while Montreal has been enjoying first choice status, but he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. The Englishman has improved, and his final ball and attacking runs caused havoc against Basel. Great to see.
Alexis and Özil given 40winks

Much of the talk before the game was whether our two star players would be given a rest. They weren’t, as Wenger chased the unlikely prospect of top spot in the group. It paid off, and the two players were taken off in the 74th minute. Not much, but better than the whole 90. Every little will help with the slew of games coming up.
Holding highly regarded

Rob Holding was given another start, and the young lad continues to impress. Alongside Koscielny, he showed excellent positioning and aerial prowess. If he continues this progress, what a player we will have in the future.
Top spot matters

People will deride the fact that we have finished 1st, stating that we will still likely get a tough draw with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid potential opponents. What does come into play will be home advantage – the second leg will be at home. A slim plus, but a plus nonetheless – and any advantage is a good one in the knockout stages.
There was more to take from the game, such as another solid game from Gabriel and Iwobi looking a little more assured than of late, but the above really stood out as the big talking points of the game.

We took top spot, we won convincingly again and we took care of our squad. 

Good times. As Arsenal fans, we should enjoy them when they’re here. That’s why we are fans. 

Onwards to the Stoke game! 

Basel Vs Arsenal – Champions League Preview

Upon first inspection, this game could be viewed as something of a dead rubber.

Arsenal travel to Switzerland safe in the knowledge that they have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Basel entertain the Gunners having notched only two points from the group. Not only that, but even if Arsene Wenger’s side leave St Jakob Park with all three points it will matter little if PSG match their result against Ludogorets.

There is still a small chance that the Gunners could finish top of their group though, and while that remains, Wenger could field what will be a very strong side.

Common sense should dictate otherwise, especially as on Saturday we take on a resurgent Stoke side – and three days later we travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton. With these matches posing far more of a threat to our hopes of success, the squad will come into play fully over the next week.

This fixture flurry would have been a larger cause for concern in years gone by, but the pool of players we can choose from is stronger than before and this will be reflected in the teamsheets for the aforementioned games. 

Coming fresh from the 5-1 thumping of West Ham should fill the team full of confidence, and compensate for the disruption that is inevitably caused by rotating the playing staff.

Hat-trick hero Alexis Sanchez could well be rested for this game, and this could give a great opportunity to Lucas Perez who has recently returned from injury. The other choice would be the fit-again Olivier Giroud who has ample experience in the competition. 

What is perhaps most telling is Arsene Wenger’s own comments from the pre-match press conference. He spoke of his sides preperation and about finishing second or first in the group. He said ” We’ll see. PSG are favourites to beat Ludogorets at home and win the group, but we can assess that scoreline at half-time and see where we go.” 

The part regarding assessing the scoreline at half-time could be construed that he plans to name his strongest players for the game, and if PSG have wrapped up their game then he will make the necessary changes. Or maybe he is holding his cards close to his chest?

Regardless, players such as Mohamed Elneny, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi can expect some form of involvement, such is the wealth of talent we possess within our ranks. Elneny and Granit Xhaka in particular will be hoping to make the team to face off against their former club. Xhaka faced off against his former teammates and his brother Taulant in the corresponding fixture which the Gunners won 2-0 at The Emirates and he will surely be hoping for a repeat result. Theo Walcott scored a first half brace to win that game, but will he be rested with the Stoke game in the corner of Arsene’s eye? Can we afford to bench too many of our established stars?

Basel will be a real test though. They have won their last three home games against English sides, and the Gunners have not finished a group campaign unbeaten since 2005/06. Objectively though, Arsenal have never finished on the losing side against Swiss opposition. One of these records have to budge – especially when you consider that the Gunners have not had a 0-0 draw in the Champions League groups since 2007. 

So Arsene has a dilemma, but one that should be easy enough to solve. The squad strength should allow him to hedge his bets even a little for this game, while simultaneously being able to preserve his side for the game against the Potters in the weekend. 

A loss will be harmful, but an injury to key personnel would be potentially fatal to our hopes of any silverware. Sensible rotation is key.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal

Arsenal 2 – 0 Basel – 5 Things We Learned

Winning is a habit that is difficult to pick up, but even harder to maintain, and Arsene Wenger seems to be of the same mind, as a virtually unchanged side saw off an overrun FC Basel side to record their first Champions League win from their second group game – and it was only profligacy that stopped this becoming a rout.

The team which recorded such a handsome victory over Chelsea took to the field with the iconic Champions Leaguie anthem ringing in their ears. The only changes were David Ospina once again being named as the man between the sticks after his heroics in Paris in the first group game, and Granit Xhaka facing off against his former side and brother, in place of the injured Francis Coquelin.

It was widely expected that there would be other adjustments to the side as Wenger looked to rotate the team, but Alexis continued his campaign as sole striker, and Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi were the others yet again named in attack. It was a surprise to see Santi Cazorla named alongside Xhaka, and another former Basel man Mohamed Elneny was thought to be in the reckoning, but the Spaniard once again lined up in the team. 

There were other interesting developments that unfolded during the ninety minutes, but here are the five key points that became abundantly evident as the game played – 

Koscielny and Mustafi are evolving….

They have played four games together, and they have yet to concede from open play. It is easy to get carried away with such a stat, and compilation videos of their mastery of Diego Costa, but what is undeniable, is they compliment each other. As a unit, there is no weakness between them. As each game goes on, they will discover each facet of the others play, and the unit will become stronger. This is only their beginning. If they can stay fit, what a rock solid foundation we will have. This game showed the composure both have, and the concentration levels of both. They were hardly stretched, but when they were called into action, they were never caught cold. Good signs.

Alexis is on fire, and their defence is terrified

How Sanchez didn’t score in this game is a question only he can answer. It wasn’t for want of trying. He led the Basel defenders – all five of them – on a merry dance, and his slaloming run which occurred late in the second half was the Chilean at his finest. When on this form, there is no keeping him quiet. Even though he didn’t score, he affected proceedings. He was up for it, and Burnley will have to be on top of their game if they want to stifle him on Sunday. 

Theo Walcott has always had it, he’s just working harder

The level of doubt that has surrounded Theo has verged on ridiculous at times, but there has been cause for some of the negativity. It is easy to forget what he is capable of when he hasn’t mustered a full season in such a long time, but lack of playing time and bad form had affected him. Now, he has gone back to what he does best, and he and the team are profiting. His pace, allied with better off the ball running, has seen him form a bond on the pitch with Ozil and Sanchez. He is putting the effort in, and long may it continue, along with his fitness. He grabbed two goals, the only two, and he even scored with his head! He was a constant menace, and while there will be times his control will desert him, he will more often than not make the difference. Plus, any player who plays alongside Ozil and Sanchez will look far worse than they actually are!

Santi Cazorla must be tired, yet he keeps his incredible level going

Yet another game for Cazorla, and most fans agreed that he would probably miss out in favour of Elneny. Cazorla covered every blade of grass in the weekend victory over Chelsea, and he looked shot, but Santi stayed in the side. It just proved once again that Wenger knows his players better than we do as Cazorla dictated the play, and made 94 passes (above is his pass map, thank you to Squawka) – more than any other.It was he who started the move for the first goal with his long pass to Sanchez out wide, and he will again surely be in the team for this weekend on this performance. How can you leave him out?

We will have harder games, but the lack of rotation was understandable

Basel put up barely a whimper, but was it simply they had no answer to us? We had 19 shots during this game, and if not for their keeper, we would have won by a landslide. Most teams will have no answer to the quick interchanges between the effervescent Iwobi, Theo, Sanchez and Ozil, and Basel were no different. Even so, to maintain the winning run, and the soaring confidence which is evidently coursing through our players veins, Wenger went largely with the same side he named on Saturday, and it paid off. Resting fatigued muscles will become a factor as the season wore on, but we have ample replacements. Long may this run, and this team, continue. 

Arsenal Vs Basel – Champions League Preview

Kickoff – 1945 GMT

Swiss champions Basel travel to The Emirates for tonights game, and there are a few twists in this match that gives it a little extra zest.

The second group game in our Champions League campaign sees a reunion of sorts, with Granit Xhaka given a chance to see former teammates a lot sooner than he realised. Not only that, but his brother will be on the other team too. 

Taulant Xhaka, older brother of Gunner Granit, will be part of the defence that will look to stifle Arsenal’s creativity, and on the evidence of their previous meeting at Euro2016 for their respective countries – there will be no room for sentiment on the pitch.

The links don’t end there. Our Egyptian, Mohamed Elneny, is also a former Basel player, and he will be champing at the bit to play a part in this game.

His chances of doing so improved dramatically during our comprehensive 3-0 win over Chelsea in the weekend. Francis Coquelin went off injured after 30minutes with a knee injury, so will not be part of the squad. Arsene Wenger reassured fans during his press conference for this game that the French battler has not suffered a long term injury and the prognosis is 3-4 weeks layoff – which isn’t exactly what Gooners want to hear after previous diagnosis of the same length….

Olivier Giroud is also not part of the squad, but it matters little after he was sent off in Paris in the previous CL game. So, will Alexis continue his excellent job upfront? Or will duties be shared with Lucas Perez? The Spaniard will be well suited to European endeavours over Premiership outings as he has yet to fully adapt to the rough and tumble of domestic fixtures, so Lucas may just get the nod ahead of the Chilean – although we are all painfully aware that Alexis does NOT like to be rested.

Will we continue with the ‘Cup Keeper’ premise? The initial reaction to include David Ospina in the team against PSG was derision and bewilderment, but his Man of the Match performance reminded us all what he is capable of. The Colombian will more than likely be given the gloves again, but what of the rest of the team?

Granit Xhaka is in prime position to continue his domination of midfield, and Mohamed Elneny will be looking to get on the teamsheet, with his only rival for the spot being Santi Cazorla – and the diminutive Spaniard has played in nearly every game so far, so a rest is overdue. 

With our next game being a trip to Turf Moor on Sunday, and no game is a gimme in the Premier League, Wenger may opt to rotate his men. The numbers at his disposal has never been greater, but he must take care not to shift focus from this game as Basel have experience in dishing out lessons to English teams – Man Utd and Liverpool can testify to this.

Yet another dilemma that the modern day manager faces, but Wenger has buckets of experience, and scars, that should put him in the right direction. 

The opposition are not to be underestimated, but what is most important is the continuation of the winning habit. Whether it be Champions League, EFL Cup or the Premier League, a loss can be hugely disruptive to the confidence of the team. 

We have been through the rough start, and those very early results were akin to a kid learning to ride a bike – we weaved, bobbed and shook, but now we’ve got the hang of it, and we are whizzing away. 

Let us just hope our sibling and friends don’t knock us off……

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Walcott, Lucas Perez

Predicted score – 3-1

Who Is Mohamed Elneny? 

Recently, Gooners have found out that Arsenal may be in talks with a midfielder from FC Basel – a certain Mohamed Elneny. Who is he? Is this actually happening? The next paragraphs you read attempt to shed some light on the truth and dispel the hype.

Continue reading Who Is Mohamed Elneny?