On Arsene Wenger’s 18th anniversary in charge of Arsenal, the Gunners produced a superb display of attacking football to sweep Turkish giants Galatasaray aside.
The North London side, partly due to injuries, played an extremely attacking and exciting team. The 4-2-3-1 formation, which saw Cazorla play alongside Flamini in the centre, with a dynamic front four of Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez and Welbeck worked fantastically, and time after time the forwards got in behind the helpless back three of the Turks.
After a rather slow start, in which Arsenal controlled the early stages but failed to capitalise on their dominance, the game burst to life in the 22nd minute. The Gunners broke with speed down the left, before Sanchez played a perfect through ball to Welbeck who slotted through the keepers legs and settled tensions in a capacity Emirates Stadium.
This goal visibly rattled Galatasaray and their nervousness at the back may have played a part in Welbeck and Arsenal’s second goal. Aurelien Chedjou cleared a defensive header straight to the frontman who picked up the ball just past the halfway line, he then shrugged off the attentions of Felipe Melo before slotting home a composed finish, comparable to that of former Arsenal hero Thierry Henry.
This goal was the last straw for some Galatasaray fans, who then proceeded to start throwing flares onto the pitch, momentarily leading to a stoppage in play. However, once play resumed Arsenal returned to their sparkling dominance, and soon after the restart Sanchez made it three with a cool finish after a pin-point through ball by Mesut Ozil.
The half-time whistle provided a dazzled Galatasaray with some much-needed respite. The performance of the Istanbul based side was so poor that Prandelli changed his system at half-time, converting to a back four. But, before the tactical switch could make any difference the Gunners were 4-0 up, as Welbeck raced onto another delicious through ball, this time from Oxlade-Chamberlain, before nonchalantly lifting the ball over Muslera’s outstretched arm.
This goal typified Welbeck’s excellent performance, and the shift he put in was well deserving of a hat-trick.
Some of the gloss though, was taken off Arsenal’s performance when Wojciech Szczęsny got himself sent off, resulting in Yilmaz converting from the spot. But on the whole it was a night to remember for the Gunners and not least Danny Welbeck.
Although Galatasaray were a complete shambles in the first period the performance proved many doubters wrong and was a much-needed confidence booster ahead of a tough trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Arsenal won’t be able to afford to play in such an expansive fashion on the weekend but the side should be raring to go after such a domineering display yesterday evening.