Watching last night’s win at home against Galatasaray was a mix of 80% pure joy and 20% anger at the sheer stupid & unnecessary act that left the Gunners with 10 men to defend almost 30 minutes of the game. Danny Welbeck scored his first professional hat-trick as 10-man Arsenal swept aside Galatasaray in the Champions League. The England striker, excellent throughout, stabbed in a first-half opener before side-footing in a second. Alexis Sanchez then curled home before Welbeck clipped in his third. Burak Yilmaz scored a penalty after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for a foul, but it was to be nothing more than a consolation. The win was Arsenal’s first in this year’s Champions League and means they have three points in Group D.
It was also the perfect way for manager Arsene Wenger to mark 18 years to the day since he was appointed Arsenal boss, and the Frenchman certainly deserves credit for naming an attack-minded side. With Welbeck playing in his favoured central role and the former Manchester United striker ably supported by the pace and creativity of Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Gunners simply had too much for a Galatasaray side who have now failed to win in 10 visits to English sides. Unlike previous games where they have dominated possession but failed to convert the key difference in this game was they posed a greater threat going forward. They pulled apart the Galatasaray defence for the opener as Sanchez raced on to Kieran Gibbs’s pass down the left, cut inside and slid a clever ball for Welbeck, who got around Felipe Melo before poking a shot through the legs of Fernando Muslera. Galatasaray rarely ventured forward as they tried to contain the Arsenal front four, and their nervousness perhaps contributed to a poor defensive error that allowed Arsenal to score a second.
After the second goal a section of the Turkish fans lit flares in the stand and threw some onto the pitch causing a brief stoppage of play. But once the action resumed, so did Arsenal’s dominance and Sanchez effectively put the game beyond Galatasaray when he ran through the defence to chase Ozil’s ball before curling home from 15 yards. After the break the Turks increased pressure but Arsenal increased their lead further as Welbeck, now brimming with confidence after his first-half double, grabbed his third of the game, timing his run for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass to perfection before lifting the ball over Muslera. And now the stupidity – Szczesny took some of the shine off the victory when he was sent off on the hour, bringing down Y?lmaz and the striker picked himself up to send substitute keeper David Ospina the wrong way from the spot, but by then the damage was done.