Arsenal’s Champions League hopes are still alive after they eased to victory against Dinamo Zagreb at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners needed to win and hope that Bayern Munich beat Olympiakos to ensure that a victory by two goals – or by a margin of one if they score three goals – in Greece in their final group game would send them into the knockout phase. Bayern fulfilled their part of the bargain and Arsenal had no trouble with a Dinamo side who beat them in the earlier fixture in Croatia. Man of the match Mesut Ozil headed them in front after 29 minutes and Alexis Sanchez added a second four minutes later before the Chile forward rounded off a fine second half move to give Arsenal the convincing win their superiority deserved.
Midfielder Ozil has had his critics since making the £42.4m move to Arsenal from Real Madrid in September 2013 – but he has arguably been the Gunners’ most influential player this season. The elegant Germany international has become the goal-maker supreme, setting a Premier League record with an assist in his seventh successive game when Olivier Giroud put Arsenal ahead at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. And he was pulling all the strings here as Arsenal kept their Champions League campaign on track, not only by displaying a wonderful range of perfectly-measured passing, but by breaking the deadlock and easing nerves inside the stadium with his diving header. Ozil’s languid style sees him painted as something of an enigma, but when he moves so silkily, dictating the tempo in this fashion, he looks a player of the highest quality.
Arsenal did not only get a world-class forward when they paid Barcelona £32m after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, they acquired a character who can set the tone for a performance with his work ethic and desire. He proved it here, not just with two goals but with his relentless determination to win the ball back when possession was lost, a prime example being in the first half when he chased back 40 yards down Arsenal’s left-flank to make three tackles before eventually securing the ball. Arsenal are more than capable of getting the victory they require against Olympiakos in Athens to go through to the knockout phase of the Champions League. They possess more quality than the Greek side – but can they deliver when it matters?
In the wake of the 3 month layoff due to injury for Francois Coquelin, Arsenal have dossiers of holding midfielders to consult if they look to sign a replacement for their injured pillar in midfielder in January, according to the Daily Mail. Arsene Wenger reportedly has a shortlist of six players including internationals Lars Bender, William Carvalho, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Lucas Biglia alongside French youngsters Vincent Koziello and Nampalys Mendy.