Guete Morge Positives,
Yet another spectacular night from our lads with Basel swept aside within 16 minutes. It was obvious from the team selection and the energy that we immediately put into the opening few moments that this contest was no “dead rubber”. This was handbrake off from referee de Sousa’s first whistle*. Whatever happened in Paris, whether the 10% chance Arsene had referred to as our prospect of finish top of Group A was more than feint whimsy, we were going to take it.
I do not think our hosts were really expecting our vigorous approach. Why would they ? Basel are not a bad side. Against English sides they have a good record at their lively St Jakob home. They no doubt anticipated a difficult match for sure but one that, with patience, they could nick a goal and take their place in the Europa League that would have been expected when the group was drawn in August.
Within that 16 minutes however, as we all saw, the Swiss were on their back, torn apart by some exquisite passing and movement, pure Wengerball. I attach below the passing diagram for the second goal. 32 or 33 consecutive passes I am told. I don’t know about you but as I was watching that move after c. the 24th or 25th pass, with Basel’s head spinning, I thought something ‘sinister’ is about to happen. I think Ferguson described that sort of football as being on a “carousel”. And when the merry go-round stopped the ball was in the net. All that was needed to complete the drama was the music from Jaws;
I do not say for a moment that our football did not shine after that 16th minute, and I could rhapsodize about Perez’s third, Sanchez’s free kick and twist of delicious fortune that allowed Iwobi’s goal scoring salvation for his OG at the Ems. It is just that after the 16th minute the game, as a serious contest, was over and the Swiss were beaten.
As is usual for me on a night in which we dominate the opposition it is very difficult to pick out individual performances. I would fail in my duty however if I did not name Lucas Perez in the report. Three shots on target, three goals! I am sure it has been a fairly frustrating time for the Spaniard since September, but he has waited for his chance to play Champions League football and it is a night he will not forget in his career. In his honour therefore the headline photo. You have earned the accolade young man.
Having performed as well as we were able in Basel the evening took a more remarkable turn as the score filtered through from Parc de Princes. 0-1, 1-1, was more or less as expected but 1-2 in the 70th minute was not. That “10% chance” to top the Group suddenly took on a much more substantial form. In fact, despite a late Parisian equalizer, the Bulgarians held on. Having watched the highlights The Bulgars earned a fully deserved point and it was not a game in which PSG dominated.
Thus the football gods smile upon us in Switzerland. May their good humour extend to Saturday and more meaty encounters to take place in North London.
Enjoy your Wednesday.
*I have no idea what happened to referee de Dousa by the way as I never heard or saw him for the remainder of the evening. I had to look up his name this morning. He clearly is a highly competent referee. Lee Mason please note.