Arsenal played the best game of their season on Saturday, when they tore Chelsea apart with precision, power and panache. Now, the challenge for the Gunners will be to show they can be consistent with such performances, starting with the Champions League home game against FC Basel on Wednesday.
The performance in the first 45 minutes against Chelsea at the Emirates is the kind that Arsene Wenger always aspires towards â€“ the near-perfect football, which is easy on the eye while also being extremely effective.
When Arsenal play football like that, it is a joy to watch, but the problem with this team lies in the fact that they do not do it often enough. The true hallmark of a great team is consistency combined with excellence and that is something Arsenal need to show they are capable of if they are to make waves this season.
Having started their Champions League campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw in Paris against PSG two weeks ago, the Gunners will know the importance of picking up their first win of the season in Europe. The fact that this match is at home adds the extra pressure to win all three points.
The strategy for the game will be different to the one employed against PSG, where Arsenal were happy to concede possession and hit their opponents on the counter. Against Basel, Arsenal will expect to have the bulk of the possession and it will be about finding space in between the lines and playing those through balls to great effect, much like they did against Chelsea.
While the debate on Alexis Sanchez and his best position will continue, what the Chilean provides in the No.9 role is better mobility and pace, and that can sometimes be the need of the hour for Arsenal, who have the penchant of slowing the game down a little too much at times.
Basel, like Arsenal, also finished their opening Champions League match with a 1-1 result, keeping Group A all even. For a long time, it looked like the Swiss side might not even get a point at home, after Ludogorets opened the scoring, but a timely strike from Renato Steffen, 11 minutes before the final whistle, ensured the opening match would not be a disaster.
Now, it will be about staying compact at the back while looking to punish Arsenal on the counter-attack, and if they manage to do that, the good vibes around the Emirates will disappear in a hurry.
Champions Group A match schedule: Arsenal vs FC Basel.
Date: Wednesday, September 28.
Time: 7.45pm BST (8.45pm CET, 2.45pm ET, 12.15am IST next day).
Venue: Emirates Stadium in London.
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