Arsenal topped their Champions League group with a comprehensive win over Basel while Ludogorets grabbed a surprise draw in Paris.
There were few surprises in Arsene Wenger’s starting lineup, but much excitement at the thought of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka starting together. There were some grumbles from people because Ozil and Alexis started. No doubt, there were an equal amount of people ready to grumble had they not.
Rob Holding’s inclusion was, perhaps, the biggest ‘surprise’.
Has anybody mentioned that this time last year Holding was playing away at Rotherham Rovers under-12s? No? Oh, because he's not Vardy.
— Andrew Allen (@AAllenSport) December 6, 2016
He meant 21s, but you get the point.
Wenger’s 189th game in the Champions League started slowly but with Arsenal in total domination and that never changed.
They were one up before 10 minutes were on the clock when Alexis found Gibbs who put in the slowest cross you’ve ever seen in your life. Somehow, the Basel defender missed it and there was Lucas standing all on his own for a tap in. In the Champions League this season, including the first eight minutes against Basel, Lucas registered one goal and two assists in 36 minutes of football.
He made it two goals and two assists in 43 minutes of football just 7 minutes later, another tap in that had us all laughing very hard at Jamie Vardy.
The rest of the half passed by somewhat quietly. Basel did score but they were offside, and they showed glimmers of possibility, but the group’s bottom side could not manage anything resembling sustained pressure.
Xhaka's first half:
✔ Most passes (51/55)
✔ Most recoveries (8)
✔ Most successful tackles (3/3)
✔ Most interceptions (2) pic.twitter.com/nPuQym5lR7
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) December 6, 2016
During the break there was some excellent halftime analysis from BTSport as usual:
“I’ve been asking ‘where is Perez?’ for a few weeks. He’s turned up today” Rio Ferdinand. HE WAS INJURED YOU PLANK!
— Lee Hurley (@HLeeHurley) December 6, 2016
Lucas took less than two minutes after the restart to score his hattrick, assisted again by Gibbs while making a mockery of the problems Arsenal have been having after the break in the Premier League.
In 47 minutes of one match, Lucas had scored the same number as Tottenham in the entire competition this season.
The fourth was another great goal and one that will do Alex Iwobi’s waning confidence immense good. Picking the ball up near his own penalty area, he passed it to Kos and started moving forward. By the time the ball reached Mesut Ozil, Iwobi was steaming into the box and could do nothing but score as the German put it on a plate for him.
It could, and perhaps should, have been five as Alexis bamboozled the Basel keeper with a corkscrew of a freekick that disappointingly smacked off the bar with the keeper rooted to the spot.
Arsenal let Basel grab a consolation with 13 minutes left, our thank you for Elneny and Xhaka. To be fair, it was a great goal from Doumbia but was far too little too late.
Now, we wait to be drawn against Bayern on Monday after going through a Champions League group unbeaten for the first time in 11 years.
You know it. I know it. I don’t even know why they’re bothering with the draw.
Massive thanks to @JA606Gooner for the headline suggestion
Basel brushed off by Arsenal
— SonOfGunnersaurus (@JA606Gooner) December 6, 2016