Even without playing a single midfielder with tendencies to play on the wing, Arsenal had a look about them during the first half of having an extra player to their opponent, as the switching between Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey worked perfectly, leaving themselves and other players wide open on almost every other attack to ensure the victory before the end of the first half.
Napoli were a complete mess, as rotations and injuries left the lineup with too little to offer against one of the two hottest teams in Europe (alongside Borussida Dortmund). Arsenal played with five central midfielders in Ozil, Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flaimin and Mikel Arteta, but there’s no problem making up for that with intelligence and the right kind of off the ball movement.
Arsenal kept attacking down the right wing, and avoided creating a situation in which Napoli’s narrow defending might bother them. Mesut Ozil might have been positioned as the man behind Olivier Giroud, but he kept switching with Aaron Ramsey or moving to leave space for Tomas Rosicky which made it quite impossible for Napoli, a team that looked like it was preparing for a completely different opponents, to defend properly for the first 30 minutes.
The high line of defense was meant to make things hard on Olivier Giroud, not known for his pace. All that didn’t matter after the first goal by Ozil, which forced Napoli into somewhat of a panic mode, and resulted in a quick second for the Frenchman, seeing the entire defense pull back as it realized in how much trouble they were.
One of the keys to Arsenal’s dominance early on was Bacary Sagna, a player they missed dearly last season due to his injury; someone who was talked about as on his way out of the club. Sagna might not be as quick as in the past, but he is still very efficient as someone who overlaps with the man on his right win, getting plenty of space against a Napoli defense that didn’t really handle the tactics in front of them all that well, with Rafa Benitez left quite stunned at the beginning.
Is Arsene Wenger a genius again? He’s simply making the right decisions, which are coming much easier to him now that he’s given up on his fixation with Jack Wilshere, instead trading that with having a superstar like Mesut Ozil on the pitch. Maybe it was a case of luck that brought the German to his doorstep, but Arsenal definitely needed some after so many disappointing seasons.
From the 15th minute onward the match was in garbage time. Napoli shifted into survival mode, and Arsenal lost interest in scoring more goals as the match dragged on. Arsenal aren’t in the habit of dropping leads anymore, and simply used their superiority in quality and numbers down the middle to let the game continue without interruptions. They’ll see harder challengers than this in the form of Borussia Dortmund, but it’s hard to find anyone in Europe playing better football than the gunners at the moment.