Arsenal showed why the English Football Association can only dream of hiring Arsene Wenger to take charge of England as Theo Walcott’s double inspired a swaggering 2-0 victory over Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Walcott netted twice in the first half at the Emirates Stadium to leave Arsenal, now unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions, with four points from their first two Group A matches.
“I’d like to congratulate the team on their performance. The first half was top, top quality, Wenger said.
“We had pace, technical quality and movement. My only regret is we didn’t take all our chances.”
It took only seven minutes for Arsenal to go ahead as they ripped through the Basel defence in a swaggering move that showed the confidence flowing through Wenger’s men at present.
Santi Cazorla lofted a deft high pass towards Alexis Sanchez, who timed his run perfectly to escape Basel’s offside trap and advanced into the penalty area before looking up to see Walcott arrowing towards goal.
Sanchez’s cross arrived with laser-guided precision and England winger Walcott, showing the renewed desire which has saved a career in danger of imploding, powered between two Basel defenders to bury his header past Vaclik from close-range.
Once again it was Sanchez and Walcott who put Basel to the sword, exchanging passes at dizzying speed.
Walcott picked out Sanchez, then raced onto his return ball and, from 12 yards out, drilled low into the far corner for his fifth goal of the season.
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka must have felt a pang of sympathy for his brother Taulant Xhaka, who was a bewildered bystander in Basel’s defence as the Gunners swept forward time and again.
Bellerin saw his shot blocked by the over-worked Vaclik, who also denied Sanchez, while Mesut Ozil fired into the side-netting in an endless tidal wave of Arsenal pressure.
But as Arsenal cruised to victory, Wenger was able to relax on the bench.