A first half Theo Walcott brace secured three points for a rampant Arsenal side as they beat Basel 2-0.
After some early pressure, Walcott headed Arsenal into the lead in the seventh minute, converting an Alexis Sanchez cross from close range. Arsène Wenger‘s men continued to press and trouble Basel’s defenders with the visitors unable to prevent non-stop Arsenal attacks.
Walcott doubled Arsenal’s lead with a far post finish inside the box after a quick one-two outside Basel’s penalty area. Alexis again the provider, a player embodying Arsenal’s relentless attitude with his tireless runs, troubling passes and quick footwork.
Walcott On Form As Arsenal Beat Basel
Arsenal had two penalty calls denied after Basel keeper Tomáš Vaclík pulled down Alexis. While play continued, Walcott picked up the loose ball but was tripped by Éder Álvarez Balanta‘s late tackle. Replays show the Englishman had a legitimate case for a penalty, however the referee disagreed, perhaps showing Basel some sympathy.
Throughout the night Arsenal played slick and intricate passes in Basel’s final third, often confusing and tangling the legs of Basel’s defenders. Alexis’ tireless performance deserved a goal, Alex Iwobi played effective passes in his side’s build up and Theo Walcott looked a man rejuvenated after his excellent start to the season. Vaclik tried his best to deny further Arsenal goals and one may wonder what the scoreline if he were not in goal.
Arsenal made two changes from Saturday’s 3-0 win against Chelsea with David Ospina and Granit Xhaka replacing Petr Cech and Francis Coquelin respectively. Ospina was largely untested but pulled off an excellent save from Birkir Bjarnason‘s long range effort.
Basel’s only source of attacks came from corner set pieces and the odd long range shot. The North London side looked relatively untroubled with evidence a Laurent Koscielny/Shodkran Mustafi partnership is continuing to blossom.
The second half started in the same vain as the first; Arsenal continuing to threaten seeking a third goal but was repeatedly denied by a more alert Basel defence. Alex Iwobi collected a pass from midfield before toe poking his shot wide before Alexis later missed an almost open goal.
After 70 minutes of dominating possession and harassing Basel’s defenders, the home side opted to slow the game down. A professional but pragmatic response to their first half performance and to avoid any late Basel comeback. Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost pinched a late third goal after countering from a Ospina save with his pass to Alexis saved by Vaclik.
Three points for Arsenal means they remain in second in Group A with four points and +2 Goal Difference. Group leaders Paris Saint-Germain meanwhile beat Ludogorets 3-1 to intensify the race for to top the group.