After Arsenal’s scintillating 5-1 win at West Ham on Saturday, Arsene Wenger bravely made six changes for last night’s match in Basel. Rob Holding made his Champions League debut, David Ospina, as usual, was back in goal and Kieran Gibbs replaced Monreal at left back. Aaron Ramsey returned to the fold, as did Alex Iwobi on the left and Lucas Perez was preferred to Olivier Giroud up front.
And it was Perez who stole the show with a hat-trick and of course he was the first player that Arsene Wenger talked about after the game. “The first two looked like quite easy goals, and were what we call tap-ins in England, but they were created by the team and you have to be there to finish. The third goal is a real striker’s goal. He scored more than 20 goals in Spain last season and he has shown why. He has an eye for goal and good movement in the box, which is why he scores.”
Wenger then spoke about how the changes of personell affected the game. “We had a good start, were quite mobile and technically very agile as well. The speed of our start surprised Basel and it was a convincing performance. Once again our squad system has worked well since the start of the season.”
So somehow, thanks to Ludogorets draw with PSG, we finished top of the Group, and Wenger was asked if there were any possible rivals that he would prefer to avoid in the knockout stages. “I don’t even know who we can get because I don’t know the results of the night, but as I told you before, we can still have a difficult draw.” Le Prof continued. “It will be difficult but we will have less guilt because we feel we’ve done the job by finishing first, and we play our second game at home. That’s what we wanted. After that, I said that there is not much difference in the draw, certainly not at the moment.”
Two away wins in four days is a great start to December, and we are sitting second in the Premier League. So how is Wenger feeling? “I cannot complain. We played some nice football and it’s a nice night for us. We came here and wanted to do the job, to play well and on top of that we were lucky with the Paris Saint-Germain result. It was a positive night.”
So we are now looking forward to next Saturday’s home game against Stoke, and as we are set to face Everton just four days later we will expect Wenger to do some more rotating. After last night’s game we can approach them with much more confidence in the quality of the whole squad.
Onwards and Upwards!