Take The Cannoli: Arsenal 2 – 0 Napoli – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 2 – 0 Napoli

After grinding out a tough win in Wales, Arsenal welcomed the Azzurri to the Emirates Stadium, in hope that another three points would make qualification far easier. Napoli however, were flying high in Serie A, and had plans of their own for their London visit.[quote_right]”Ozil met [the ball] first time with a world-class side-footed finish. The ball curled away from Reina, and into the net. It was glorious.”[/quote_right]

For Arsenal, the first half was utterly dream-like.

Napoli found themselves chasing shadows, as The Gunners kept the ball elegantly across the pitch, with Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil, Rosicky and Giroud all linking up seamlessly time after time.

Arsenal’s tempo was fantastic, and it was no surprise when they managed to break the deadlock after just eight minutes of play. Giroud perfectly controlled a long ball down the right-wing, held off his marker, and played Ramsey in behind after the Welshman made the intelligent run needed.

Ramsey took the ball down the wing, and spotted Mesut Ozil making a run from deep. He crossed the ball to the edge of the box, where Ozil met it first time with a world-class side-footed finish. The ball curled away from Reina, and into the net. It was glorious.

Ozil’s goal gave Arsenal even more confidence.Napoli seemed in shock as The Gunners exchanged silky short and long passes, turned out of trouble, and created chance after chance.

Just seven minutes after Ozil’s opener, the German picked up the ball down the right-hand side once again, and drove into the box. Giroud made the run to the near post, and Mesut put it where he wanted it. Olivier tucked the ball home, ending yet another classy Arsenal play.

The rest of the half, surprisingly, was just as good for Arsenal performance wise. You’d have expected the foot to ease off the pedal, or – dare I say it, the hand brake to come up. But instead, they pushed,and pushed and pushed.

Unfortunately, Arsenal hard work couldn’t produce a third goal before the whistle blew. But regardless, they went down the tunnel knowing that they were playing their best Football of the season, with the three points all but won.

The second half contained less of the offensive drama, and far more composure from Arsenal.[quote_left]”It wasn’t just a great win, it was a truly great performance.”[/quote_left]

The Azzurri were looking resigned to a defeat by the sixtieth minute, simply because they couldn’t get the ball off of The Gunners long enough to mount any attacks.

Flamini and Arteta were doing a superb job of breaking up Napoli’s attacks, whilst Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud were always in space, and always looking to create.

Up until the very last minute, Olivier Giroud in particular was fantastic. He won headers, harassed defenders and engaged in some mesmerizing link-up play. Arsenal’s ability to hold on to the ball was usually down to him in the end.

Arsenal’s defence also did their job, by cleaning up any remaining danger, being aggressive, and yet composed whenever Napoli tried to close them down.

The clock soon wound down, and Arsenal greeted the final whistle with beaming smiles. It wasn’t just a great win, it was a truly great performance.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesney: [7/10]
Hardly had to touch the ball thanks to an excellent defensive display, but he was reliable when coming for crosses, and he also produced some good distribution.

Sagna: [7.5/10]
Worked tirelessly up and down the flank to help Ramsey attack, and also did a good, solid job at the back.

Mertesacker: [7.5/10]
Per once again proved his worth by reading the game with pinpoint accuracy. He made important interceptions, won headers and was also a threat from corners.

Koscielny: [7/10]
A good overall performance from Laurent,despite misplacing one or two passes early in the match. Should have grabbed himself a goal though.

Gibbs: [8/10]
Kieran showed some excellent touches and passes under pressure, and also managed to spend much of his time in Napoli’s half, causing their defence some issues. Untroubled defensively, and looking on top form.

Flamini: [8/10]
Napoli struggled to create chances for two reasons. One was a lack of meaningful possession, and the other was Mathieu Flamini. The Frenchman was aggressive, tough and positionally sound all game. Glad to have him back.

Arteta: [7.5/10]
Mikel misplaced a few passes throughout the game, which we can put down to a lack of match practise. However, he also made some very important passes at other times, and made sure he backed up Flamini with a few tackles too.

Ozil: [8.5/10]
Mesut plays like he’s at the park. His casual, yet classy passing opened up door after door for Arsenal in Napoli’s half. His goal was a result of a world-class finish, and he also did very well to get the assist for Giroud. Worth every penny, and then some.

Ramsey: [8.5/10]
As per usual, Ramsey worked his socks off. But, as I mentioned in my post earlier today regarding Ramsey’s form, his intelligence played a huge role. He found good passes, made good turns and got himself into extremely dangerous positions. His assist for Ozil was nothing short of perfect play.

Rosicky: [7.5/10]
Although Tomas made a few wayward passes, he was terrific in the first half. His tackling was important, as was his clever build-up play and link-ps with Ozil and Giroud. Got tired as the game went on, but I’m glad he’s back.

Giroud: [9/10] – MOTM
What a remarkable performance from Olivier Giroud. Everything he touched was perfect. He won aerial battles, brought down lofted balls, held up play, and his passing game was as good as anybodys. He also tucked a goal away, which was good. Giroud proved today that, with some consistency, he can become one of the world’s best.

Subs:

Wilshere: [7/10]
Jack looked up for it when he came on. He used his trademark touches to drift past players, and did well to get forward on a few occasions through the middle. Had a few crosses and through-balls that didn’t quite come off, but to no real fault of his own.

Monreal: [N/A]

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[title]Take The Cannoli[/title]

Arsenal were good today. Surprisingly good. So good, in fact, that Napoli just didn’t see what hit them. We left the gun – but we took the Cannoli.

Olivier Giroud was a star amongst stars. His first touch was superb, and he linked up beautifully with Ramsey and Ozil, who themselves seem to be forming a lucrative partnership in the middle. It’s all rather exciting.

The Gunners now have 6 points from 6 in the Champions League, and I’m sure if we keep playing like this, the rest will come with no worries whatsoever. Next up, West Brom in the Premier League. Bring it on.

What do you think of the Napoli vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Image: Arsenal

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