A blistering opening inspired by Mesut Ozil saw Arsenal top Champions League Group F at Napoli’s expense. The Germany star scored and then set up Olivier Giroud for another all inside 15 minutes.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger made two changes after a ninth successive win in all competitions away to Swansea. Young Serge Gnabry and Jack Wilshere dropped to the bench as Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky returned.
Rafa Benitez, now in charge at Napoli, had to do without a player Wenger targeted over the summer in Gonzalo Higuain. Marek Hamsik returned and skippered the side. On-loan keeper Pepe Reina and the versatile Valon Behrami were familiar names to English audiences.
Fluid in forward areas from the first whistle it came as no surprise when Arsenal beautifully crafted an early opener. Giroud set in-form Aaron Ramsey away down the right, and he pulled back to an unmarked Ozil at the edge of the box, who placed perfectly beyond Reina.
The hosts extended their lead on the quarter hour. Giroud exchange passes with Ozil, getting it back for a simple tap in inside Napoli’s six-yard box. The Gunners record signing went on a skilful and determined run infield from the by-line which made this second goal.
Benitez’s new side, donning a camouflage away kit, offered almost no threat as their frontline went AWOL without leading man Higuain. Uruguayan defender Miguel Britos nodded a corner wide unopposed after a run from deep, however.
Other first half Arsenal openings were blocked at source or deflected. After the break they sat off Napoli somewhat, but at no peril to their two-goal cushion. Reina prevented that becoming a wider margin when he denied Laurent Koscielny at point blank range from a flicked on corner.
Defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the Premier League now seems a distant memory as the Gunners recorded a tenth straight victory since here. Wenger’s charges still lack width, but were nothing like as narrow as their weekend win in Wales.
Napoli, on paper at least, should have posed a much greater threat than this after their unbeaten start in Serie A. Benitez must go back to the drawing board for the return fixture later in the autumn.
- Arsenal: 1 Wojciech Szczesny, 3 Bacary Sagna, 4 Per Mertesacker, 6 Laurent Koscielny, 28 Kieran Gibbs, 16 Aaron Ramsey (17 Nacho Monreal 88’), 20 Mathieu Flamini, 8 Mikel Arteta (c), 7 Tomas Rosicky (10 Jack Wilshere 63’), 11 Mesut Ozil, 12 Olivier Giroud 4-3-2-1
- Goals: Mesut Ozil 8’, Olivier Giroud 15’
- Napoli: 25 Pepe Reina, 16 Giandomenico Mesto, 33 Raul Albiol (21 Federico Fernandez 83’), 5 Miguel Britos, 18 Juan Camilo Zuniga, 85 Valon Behrami, 88 Gokhan Inler, 7 Jose Callejon (91 Duvan Zapata 77’), 17 Marek Hamsik (c), 24 Lorenzo Insigne, 19 Goran Pandev (14 Dries Mertens 61’) 4-2-3-1