Arsene Wenger made three changes from the team which drew 1-1 at home to Spurs on Saturday evening. The three changes were forced on him really with both Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey out injured and Jack Wilshere nursing a knock on the bench. The players to benefit were Mathieu Flamini, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez in a team which looked good enough to win the game.
Arsenal made all the early running as Galatasary failed to offer much in attack, but the final pass just seemed to elude them. That changed after 22 minutes when a lovely pass by Alexis put Danny Welbeck through on goal and he finished through the keepers legs to put them 1-0 up. It was just what Arsenal needed and a just reward for their domination up to that point.
Arsenal continued to dominate and it took only another eight minutes for that man Welbeck to double the lead. This time he made the chance all on his own after picking up on a defensive error and racing through on the left to finish past the keeper into the far corner of the net. It was a lovely finish and very much in the style of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
With half time approaching Arsenal added to their lead and this time it was Alexis who applied the finish after he was played in by Mesut Ozil. His finish was similar to Welbeck's second goal although he did cut back inside his marker before finishing and the keeper probably should have saved his effort. Arsenal led 3-0 at half time through there goals which all came from players racing through in the exact same position on the left of their attack.
Galatasaray should have been down to 10 men in that first half too after an awful two footed lunge by Felipe Melo brought Alexis down, but the referee only gave him a yellow card. The only thing worse than the Melo tackle was the behaviour of the Galatasary fans who threw flares and a bottle on to the pitch after the second Arsenal goal. Arsenal had completely dominated the game in those first 45 minutes and looked likely to go on and win by a very comfortable margin.
The second half started with Galatasary on the front foot as they changed their formation and looked to get back into the game. As they pressed forward it left room for Arsenal to counter attack and they took advantage of the space they had after 52 minutes through Welbeck yet again. This time it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who played him in with a neat pass through a defender's legs and he coolly clipped the ball over the keeper as he advanced to make it 4-0 to Arsenal.
It looked like Arsenal could go on to add even more goals to their tally until the game took a turn in Galatasaray's favour after 60 minutes. Alexis lost the ball in midfield and suddenly a Galatasary player was played in on Wojciech Szczesny who raced off his line to stop him. Unfortunately he wasn't quick enough and the attacker nicked the ball away with Szczesny flying into him and knocking him over. The referee had no choice but to give a penalty to Galatasaray and give Szczesny a red card.
David Ospina was brought on to play in goal with Alexis making way and half an hour still left to play. Galatasaray scored from the penalty to give them a glimmer of hope with 30 minutes still left and Arsenal down to 10 men. Not too long later Chamberlain made way for Rosicky as Arsenal looked to shore things up. I was a little surprised to see Alexis and Chamberlain as the first two players to be taken off, as I thought their pace and stamina would be a real asset with 10 against 11.
Ospina made a few good saves in the half hour he played and Galatasaray never really got the chances to get them back into the game. Just before the end Cazorla had a great chane to add a fifth goal for Arsenal but he took a heavy touch which gave a defender a chance to clear his effort off the line after he had clipped it over the keeper. The final whistle went soon afterwards and Arsenal ran out fairly comfortable 4-1 winners all things considered.
Welbeck took all three goals in his hat trick very well and it was his first hat trick in senior football too. He showed great pace and strength and an eye for goal which suggests he might well have been the bargain buy of the summer. With Olivier Giroud out until the new year at least it looks like Wekbeck will get plenty of opportunities to endear himself further to the Arsenal fans.
It was a great night for the boss too as he celebrated 18 years in the hot seat at Arsenal. Who would have thought when he got the job back in 1996 that he would still be in charge now and the club would have been through the journey it has been with him. There have been highs and lows of course, but it has been a great time to be an Arsenal fan with trophies, a new stadium and a style of football to delight at. Those trophies may have dried up quite a bit in the second half of those 18 years, but he has kept the team competitive while building a new stadium and setting us up for the future.
Arsenal's next group game is away to Anderlecht in three weeks followed by the reverse fixture two weeks later and they're games Arsenal need to target as victories. If they can take the six points from those two games they will set themselves up perfectly to qualify from the group and maybe even have a chance of winning the group too if they can turn Dortmund over at the Emirates.
Maybe the win last night will be the impetus the team needs to really get going this season and put a run of wins together to get among the challengers in the league. Next up it's a trip to Chelsea on Sunday for a really tough game against the current league leaders. We all know what happened in this fixture last season and that the boss has to find a way to ensure that doesn't happen again this season. It won't be easy to pick the perfect team to do the job needed with Arsenal's current injury list, but if the team go out with the right tactics and approach it can happen.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.