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Walcott double inspires Arsenal win

Theo Walcott

Walcott has scored four goals in his last three games

Theo Walcott scored twice as Arsenal put in a dominant home display against Basel in the Champions League.

It took the Gunners just six minutes to open the scoring as Walcott headed in from Alexis Sanchez’s cutback.

The two Arsenal men linked up again as Englishman Walcott drilled low into the net to complete a swift team move.

Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik made good saves to deny Sanchez and Hector Bellerin, with Birkir Bjarnason coming close for the visitors.

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Sublime skill and movement

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Arsenal’s second goal was typical of their performance against Basel – a quick, slick, 12-pass move, finished off from an angle by Walcott

Arsenal stunned rivals Chelsea 3-0 in the Premier League at the weekend and impressed again at the Emirates in this Group A encounter.

Arsene Wenger’s side are now unbeaten in eight games in all competitions since losing to Liverpool on the opening day of the season.

The sublime skill and movement of attacking trio Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Walcott, who already has five goals this season, was too much for Basel to handle and the margin of victory could have been far more emphatic.

Santi Cazorla controlled the tempo of the game with 94 passes – more than any other player on the pitch – while centre-backs Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were largely untroubled.

Arsenal often start a season strongly before falling away, but if they can avoid major injuries and maintain a settled side, realistic challenges for the league title and the latter stages of the Champions League are not unthinkable.

Wenger’s last hurrah?

Manager Wenger has again been linked with the vacant England national team job after Sam Allardyce left the post on Tuesday. The 66-year-old reportedly turned down an offer from the FA before Allardyce’s appointment in July and he may receive a call again.

He celebrates 20 years in charge at Arsenal on Saturday, overseeing an era in which the club has won three Premier League titles and six FA Cups.

But he has underachieved in the Champions League, reaching the final in 2006 but going out in the last 16 for the past six seasons.

Wenger’s contract runs out at the end of the campaign and should he fancy a crack at the England job, success in Europe’s premier club competition would be the perfect way to sign off.

Granit Xhaka 2-0 Taulant Xhaka

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The Xhaka brothers shared a hug at the final whistle and swapped shirts with each other

The Xhaka brothers, Granit of Arsenal and Basel’s Taulant, faced each other again after crossing paths at Euro 2016.

In a quirk of international eligibility, Granit represents Switzerland while Taulant plays for Albania and it was the Gunners man who came out on top on that occasion.

And it was the younger Xhaka sibling who triumphed again as his side totally outplayed the Swiss league champions.

Midfielder Bjarnason, part of the Iceland side that beat England at the tournament in France, had a long-range effort tipped over by David Ospina, who also saved well from Andraz Sporar late on.

Man of the match – Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

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Walcott scored twice, but was indebted to Sanchez for both chances. The Chilean pulled the Basel defence this way and that in his striker’s role, with intelligent running and grace of touch.

What they said:

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I would say the game was of quality and the win was comfortable. The only regret was that we did not score enough tonight considering what we created. Overall, some excellent football.

“We need to have the desire to improve and not be happy with what you have. You have to have the urgency and focus high. We have not won anything and the target is to get stronger.”

What next?

Arsenal will look to keep up their excellent form when they travel to Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, 2 October (kick-off 16:30 BST).

The stats you need to know:

  • Theo Walcott scored his first Champions League double since October 2007 against Slavia Prague.
  • Walcott scored his first headed goal in the competition.
  • Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 11 of Arsenal’s last 16 Champions League goals (four goals, seven assists).
  • Only Barcelona’s Neymar (8) has more Champions League assists since the start of last season than Sanchez.

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 2, FC Basel 0.

Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, FC Basel 0.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Tomás Vaclik.

Attempt saved. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Shkodran Mustafi.

Attempt missed. Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mesut Özil with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Tomás Vaclik.

Attempt saved. Andraz Sporar (FC Basel) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mohammed Elyounoussi.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Eder Balanta.

Attempt blocked. Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

Attempt blocked. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Mohammed Elyounoussi (FC Basel) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Mohammed Elyounoussi (FC Basel).

Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Renato Steffen (FC Basel).

Offside, Arsenal. Granit Xhaka tries a through ball, but Mesut Özil is caught offside.

Substitution, FC Basel. Matías Delgado replaces Birkir Bjarnason.

Substitution, Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs replaces Nacho Monreal.

Offside, Arsenal. Santiago Cazorla tries a through ball, but Alexis Sánchez is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a corner.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Renato Steffen.

Substitution, FC Basel. Mohammed Elyounoussi replaces Luca Zuffi.

Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Theo Walcott.

Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Alex Iwobi.

Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adama Traoré (FC Basel).

Attempt missed. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Theo Walcott.

Attempt missed. Andraz Sporar (FC Basel) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right.

Attempt missed. Birkir Bjarnason (FC Basel) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Marek Suchy with a headed pass following a corner.

Corner, FC Basel. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.

Corner, FC Basel. Conceded by David Ospina.

Attempt saved. Birkir Bjarnason (FC Basel) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Michael Lang.

Corner, FC Basel. Conceded by David Ospina.

Corner, FC Basel. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Luca Zuffi (FC Basel).

Substitution, FC Basel. Andraz Sporar replaces Seydou Doumbia.

Attempt missed. Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Mesut Özil following a fast break.

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Renato Steffen (FC Basel).

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37465100