Now that was so much better last night, in fact I have been waiting for that all season. I have been meaning to write some thoughts on us perhaps trying to run before we could walk when it came to the new system, new players and the world cup interruptions. We've been watching an imitation of Arsenal since the season began with a few glimpses of promising sparks along the way such as the 4 minute demolition of Aston Villa as well as good spells against the Champions, Manchester City. But last night I felt that we had witnessed another gear being cranked up.
It is difficult to avoid the elephant in the room in the form of the opposition. Yes they were poor, yes they were ruthlessly exploited in the first half but as a number of people have rightfully said, we've come unstuck against poorer teams in the recent past. Many of our defeats against lower sides in our history has usually come from Arsenal stepping in to hand ourselves a beating. We destroyed Galatasaray in that first half because of the performance we came up with.
Many of the plaudits will deservedly go to hat-trick hero Daniel Nii Tackie Welbeck and I'll come onto him in a moment but for me that first half was all about Santi Cazorla. When reading the line up before kick off I imagined that Oxlade-Chamberlain would be the one to come inside and replace Aaron Ramsey with Santi playing his usual role on the left, but instead Arsene went with the Spaniard as our number 8. Perhaps Arsene wanted to give the distribution duties to somebody more capable than Mathieu Flamini. Maybe Arsene wanted to get the ball to Özil early and accurately. That was certainly the case in that first half. The speed of which Cazorla shifts the ball between his feet and then finding his team mate floating into small pockets of space was a joy to watch.
I'm not sure if there is a more aesthetically pleasing player to watch in our squad when on form, although Alexis Sanchez may have something to say about that in weeks/months to come. I think Santi will go back to the left with Jack coming inside when we face Chelsea but last night Santi was mesmerizing.
I am so pleased that I got to watch the game somewhere other than the Sky Sports broadcast judging by comments made from Arsenal fans about Tony Gale who was the co-commentator. For those who were lucky enough to watch by other means will have missed continuous snipes thrown Özil's way for no apparent reason. Those who watched the game with their eyes and not from an agenda driven perspective would have seen a highly skilled playmaker nearing his best form once again.
Mesut gave us something that we've been waiting for since Alexis joined the club. Already 2-0 up we sensed the away team rocking and stepped up the gears. Özil playing as our number 10 picked up the Ox's short lay off before cutting the Galatasaray defence open with a threaded through ball that Alexis raced onto before swerving inside his man and placing into the corner of the net.
Welbeck had already scored a brace by this point, the first racing onto a lovely reverse pass from Alexis to fire past the keeper. His second was my favourite of the night, pouncing onto a poor defensive header to hold off his man, head forward and side foot into the corner of the net. A goal of his own making and it's lovely to see those goals in our armory now.
His third, which is first professional hat-trick was also a great goal, this time a well worked team goal. Oxlade-Chamberlain's pass was perfect but it was Welbeck's run and timing that made the goal. His clipped finish was that of a man full of confidence.
By that point I said that Welbeck could go on to score 4 or 5 if he so wanted and I believe that could have been the case had Szczesny not clattered into his man in the box and subsequently receive his marching orders. As Arseblog said in his report, I can't help but feel some sympathy for keepers in that position. They have a split second to react and sometimes you think you can reach a ball that you cannot by a fraction. If Szczesny had stood rooted on his line then he'd have received a different sort of criticism. It's just the way it goes I guess.
Unless Ospina makes a game changing error against Anderlecht, Szczesny's error won't matter one jot.
The red card and penalty conversion had changed the course of the game which is a shame. We had some more goals in us for sure but the tide had turned a little and the opposition applied some pressure to which our defence and Ospina were equal to.
Welbeck could have scored a goal of the season contender when he flicked over a defender and ran half the length of the pitch before being dispossessed right at the death.
Chambers was once again very impressive. I am almost waiting for him to settle down to his true level but he keeps on churning out top performances. Mathieu Flamini was much improved but I guess his job was far easier as we had control of the match for them most part.
Santi Cazorla may have wrapped up the points when substitute Jack Wilshere set him free on the break, his chip over the advancing keeper needed a little more weight on the shot so in the end it was cleared to safety. Santi would have deserved that goal.
In the end the three points were very much welcomed, the three goals would have given Danny Welbeck a much needed confidence boost but for me the most pleasing aspect of the game was our attacking game going forward. Our passing was quick, the movement from the front players was excellent and we looked like we could have scored plenty more goals.
It will be a totally different game on Sunday but at least the players should be in better mental shape for it.