FC Basel 1 Arsenal 4: Perfect Perez, Clinical Gunners and other talking points | UCL

Arsenal secured the top spot in their Champions League group by beating FC Basel 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick from summer signing Lucas Perez.

Arsenal came into the game almost resigned to finishing the group in second place. But that did not stop Wenger from fielding a strong eleven, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny all starting at Basel.

The Gunners played exquisite high-tempo football, which saw Lucas Perez score a hat-trick, two of them being near tap-ins, while Alex Iwobi added a fourth.

Seydou Doumbia salvaged a consolation for the home side, as Arsenal ran out 4-1 winners. A 2-2 draw at Parc Des Princes between Paris Saint-Germain and Ludogorets saw the Gunners take first place in the group.

The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the significant talking points from the game.

1. Perfect Perez

Lucas Perez has been handed a short straw at Arsenal ever since he made the summer move from Deportivo La Coruna. There were even reports that Wenger was unsure of the Spaniard’s ability to lead the frontline. But Wenger had asked for patience from Lucas and it looks like it is paying dividends.

The forward was biding his time and was handed a start on Tuesday night. And boy did he impress. The Spaniard’s hat-trick and overall performance is likely to move him into contention for a spot in the starting XI. Here’s to hoping.

2. Arsenal break group stage curse

Arsenal have struggled to secure the top spot in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in recent times. And, that has had an adverse affect on their knockout journey. The Gunners have been knocked out in the first knockout phase or the Round of 16 of the Champions League for several successive campaigns now, at large, due to the prospect of an unfavourable draw due to their second-placed finish in the group stages.

But, they finally seem to have broken the second place curse as they grabbed the top spot in their group in the current iteration of the UEFA Champions League. Perhaps, the break in this trend also marks an improvement in their Champions League campaign and maybe, just maybe, this is the season that Arsenal finally conquer Europe.

3. Clinical from the Gunners

Arsenal thrashed FC Basel 4-1, but the result fails to paint the whole picture. FC Basel did provide formidable opposition on Tuesday night. The Swiss club went toe-to-toe with the Gunners and the home side even had more attempts and more corners than the visitors.

But Basel managed just 1 goal, and while the Arsenal defence can be credited, it can mostly be chalked down to the home side’s inability to convert chances into goals. While Basel cut a frustrating figure, Arsenal scored 4 goals despite having fewer attempts.

This highlights their clinical nature, something which has really come to the fore this season. Perhaps this is what the Gunners need to finally have a successful campaign, both domestically and otherwise.

4. Nein Clean Sheet in Nine for Wenger

Arsenal had a very admirable run of clean sheets after the arrival of Shkodran Mustafi. But the injury to Hector Bellerin seems to have re-opened a defensive can of worms. The Gunners have now gone nine games in all competitions without a clean sheet, something which has already cost Arsenal a place in the EFL Cup semi-finals.

The defence should be re-patched by Arsene Wenger or the Gunners could see another potentially successful campaign slip away from them. Arsenal will be facing a tougher proposition ahead in the knockout phases and a leaky defence could be the difference between another Round of 16 exit and a successful European campaign.

5. Encouraging signs for Arsenal

Not only did Arsenal manage to break the second-place curse by finishing first in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, but they also went the entirety of the group stage without losing a single fixture.

The Gooners don’t have to be reminded of what happened when they went unbeaten in the group stages last time around. They reached the finals. Perhaps they can go one better this time. As we have mentioned above, here’s to hoping.

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