Scottish Daily Mail

Rampant Gunners too good for Basle


IT took just seven minutes for Arsenal to shift into cruise control. Even then, Basle still couldn’t get near them. In this mood, not many could. If you thought Saturday’s first-half annihilati­on of Chelsea was special, this was something else. Pace and power, with a sprinkle of pizzazz. In the end, a brace from the rejuvenate­d Theo Walcott secured victory as Arsenal built on their impressive draw at Paris Saint-Germain. But it should have been much more, Arsenal’s wastefulne­ss the only flaw in an otherwise excellent night’s work. For years, Arsene Wenger has been saying this group of players are on the cusp of something special. Maybe it’s time to take notice. Their detractors will point to last night’s opposition. But it was the controlled nature of this display that resonated. David Ospina replaced Petr Cech in goal, while Granit Xhaka replaced the injured Francis Coquelin as he faced his brother Taulant, who lined up for Basle. To all intents and purposes, this match was done and dusted in seven minutes after a clinical move. Santi Cazorla, deep inside his own half, found Alexis Sanchez down the left flank with an exquisite pass. The Chilean’s first-time cross was just as majestic; so too Walcott’s bullet header. Wenger’s grin broadened in the 26th minute as Arsenal doubled their advantage. Again, Sanchez created and Walcott finished. The Englishman picked the ball up 40 yards from goal, played a quick one-two with Sanchez and he was in on goal. Walcott would once have snatched at this sort of chance. Not any more. A quick look up and bang, an accurate angled shot past Tomas Vaclik that cannoned off the post before rippling the net. Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Sanchez all missed gilt-edged chances to rub Basle’s faces in it. The openings kept coming at the start of the second half, Sanchez unselfishl­y choosing to locate Walcott for a hat-trick chance instead of shooting after some woeful defending by Marek Suchy. Alex Iwobi was next to miss, firing narrowly wide from 14 yards. In the end it could have been 10, Arsenal were that dominant. But victory in their next clash against Ludogorets should ensure passage into the knockout stages for a 17th consecutiv­e year.

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