Arsenal travelled to Galatasaray and swept the Turkish giant aside with a scintillating 4-1 win that included a goal of the season contender from Aaron Ramsey. The game encapsulated the enigma of this Arsenal team, able to lose so timidly to Stoke last weekend, but with the ability to visit one of the harshest cauldrons in world football and dominate the match.
It was a dead rubber game as the Gunners were already through to the next round, while Galatasaray’s Champions League season was coming to a close. However, Arsenal could have topped the group with a win, so the team threw caution to the wind and put in a memorable performance. As it was, top spot proved elusive as Borussia Dortmund drew at Anderlecht to ensure they held the position.
Arsene Wenger opted to travel without important figures such as Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck and Laurent Koscielny. With several other players missing through injury, this was very much a second string Arsenal line up, with only a couple of regular starters. Yet it was enough to get the job done and in the third minute some neat build up play by Alex Oxlad-Chamberlain and the impressive Ramsey released Lukas Podolski. The German international fired his shot into the roof of the net to give the visitors the lead.
The advantage was doubled in the eleventh minute as Ramsey collected an Oxlade-Chamberlain pass and kept his composure to score past Sinan Bolat for 2-0. Galatasaray were providing the odd threat, but so far the Turkish powerhouse had been kept quiet and in the 29th minute the home fans were left shell shocked by one of the season’s wonder goals.
Joel Campbell’s corner was cleared out of the Gala area, but Ramsey was on hand to smash a left footed volley from 30 yards. Like a tomahawk missile, the volley arrowed straight into the top corner and was a sensational way to give Arsenal a 3-0 halftime lead.
Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini were replaced at halftime by Gedion Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as Wenger opted to shuffle the pack and rest key men. The switch broke Arsenal’s rhythm temporarily and Galatasaray capitalized through Wesley Sneijder’s curled trademark free kick that sailed into the goal to make 3-1.
The rally from the home team was brief as Arsenal continued to control the game for the remainder of the second half. In the dying embers of the contest Podolski arrived with his second and the Gunners’ fourth as he nestled the ball into the net from just inside the penalty area, taking advantage of a Yaya Sanogo pass.