|Arsenal easily won their final group game of this season's Champions League|
Arsenal's display against Turkish outfit Galatasaray was hugely impressive, but with the amount of space they gave us in the middle of the park it came as no surprise that we won in a relatively easy way. We rested a number of key players but each goal was very impressive as both Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey scored twice. The form of Aaron Ramsey has heavily improved in the last two games, and his displays are very timely with both Arteta and Wilshere out injured. He scored a controlled volley against Stoke on Saturday and then assisted and scored twice against Galatasaray. The first was rolled into the far corner with his left foot and then his second was simply brilliant. The ball was headed clear from a corner and from 30 yards out the Welshman unleashed an amazing effort on his weaker foot which flew into the top corner.
Lukas Podolski opened the scoring after just three minutes and then sealed the win with the last kick of the game. For the first he unleashed a thumping effort that flew past the keeper, before hitting the bar from a similar angle later in the half. The German then played a one-two with Sanogo before burying the ball for his second of the night. It was a performance that sent a message to the manager. Podolski has been stuck on the bench all season but his finishing on Tuesday displayed why he has to play more; a yard of space inside the box and he'll score.
The performance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the middle of the park was also encouraging. Arsene Wenger has said he sees his future in a more central role, and after scoring just two in twenty four appearances this season you can see why. The Ox's displays this season have been very impressive. Playing out-wide he has offered a constant threat with his pace and directness but his drive from a more central area is what we miss when Wilshere is out injured. Mathieu Debuchy's return from injury was meanwhile a big positive.
Joel Campbell was given just his second Arsenal start against Galatasaray and was very positive in attack. Like Oxlade-Chamberlain he is very direct and always looked to take on his man. You can see why he doesn't play as often as some fans have been calling for though; his attitude and work rate don't seem to be particularly impressive and he is actually quite wasteful in possession. If he's to make it in this Arsenal side then he'll need to get his head up more and look for a pass more often than he did in midweek.
Three players made their Champions League debuts, which for two of them it was their full senior debuts. Gedion Zelalem featured in the FA Cup last season against Coventry and the game against Galatasaray gave him a chance to show what all the hype about the youngster is about. He was extremely composed on the ball, and typified that of an Arsenal midfield performance, completing 90% of his 44 passes.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O'Connor were the players to make their full debuts though. Both are just 17, and didn't have a lot to do in all honesty. Maitland-Niles looked assured but didn't get to show the directness he brings to the Academy sides in what was a second half of a much slower intensity. O'Connor looked a little out of his depth, slotting in at right back. He's a centre back by trade and he looked a little nervy out of position as Galatasaray had a late surge, but overall he did fairly well in the little time he had.
With the draw to happen on Monday, here's hoping we get Porto or Monaco, rather than the likes of Bayern and Real Madrid.
The team's line-ups:
Galatasaray: Bolat, Telles. Balta, Camdal(45), Kaya, Melo, Sneijder, Colak, Bangna(77), Yilmaz(45), Bulut.
Subs: Iscan, Sari, Ozcal, Kurtulus, Oztekin(45), Altintop(45), Adin(77).
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy(77), Chambers, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Flamini(45), Ramsey(45), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Campbell, Podolski, Sanogo.
Subs: Martinez, O'Connor(77), Kamara, Zelalem(45), Maitland-Niles(45), Iwobi, Akpom.
My man of the match: Aaron Ramsey.
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan.