Arsenal and Ozil send warning to Europe with 'dream' display
Outstanding Gunners make it ten wins in a row with 'amazing' performance against Napoli
Arsenal 2 Napoli 0. Arsenal could claim to be the form team of Europe right now and underlined their quality with a superb performance against Napoli in the Champions League, which manager Arsene Wenger described as "absolutely amazing".
The Gunners were two up within 15 minutes and though the goals dried up the quality and class of their overall display was a warning to the rest of the Champions League.
At the heart of everything Arsenal did in a spellbinding first half was Mesut Ozil, the club's record-signing rising to the occasion against a Napoli side who lie second in Serie A.
The German playmaker scored Arsenal's opener – his first goal for the club he joined from Real Madrid last month – and created the second. A few more performances like the one Ozil provided at the Emirates and his £42.5m fee will seem like a snip.
"Ozil was like the team – he had an outstanding first half, where you had everything that you want to see from a great player," Wenger said. "Individual skill, team play, finishing, final ball. Just sit there and enjoy it."
Ozil may not yet have brought out the best in Jack Wilshere, who started the tie on the bench, but his arrival has breathed new life into Aaron Ramsey and it was he who teed up his teammate for the opening goal on eight minutes. Surging down the right flank, Ramsey cut the ball back across the penalty box to an unmarked Ozil, and the German's deft finish from 18 yards was something to behold.
Seven minutes later Pepe Reina was picking the ball out of his net once more after Arsenal unlocked Napoli's right flank. This time it was Ozil with the key as his neat pass was hammered into the roof of the net by French striker Olivier Giroud.
"The first half was absolutely amazing, fantastic," drooled Wenger. "It had everything; the collective, individual skill and finishing. It was everything that you dream to see when you sit in the stands watching football."
Poor Napoli were never at the races and if Ozil and Ramsey were the creative sparks, then Mathieu Flamini was the midfield destroyer. The Frenchman made it a night to forget for Marek Hamsik and with star striker Gonzalo Higuaín a late withdrawal with a calf injury there was little for Napoli's travelling fans to cheer.
Arsenal, now on a ten-match winning streak, sit three points clear at the top of Group F and their next tie is at home to Borussia Dortmund in a fortnight. The Germans trounced Marseille 3-0 on Tuesday night but last season's beaten Champions League finalist will travel to London in trepidation.
"I don't know when we last played this well," said Wenger in reply to a post-match enquiry. "Certainly at home, it's one of the best halves we have played for a long time." ·