Arsenal take control of Champions League group with 2-0 victory
ARSENAL club-record signing Mesut Ozil scored his first goal since a £43million deadline day move as the Gunners took control of Champions League Group F with a 2-0 win over Napoli at the Emirates Stadium.
German international Ozil, signed from Real Madrid, dispatched a classy finish on eight minutes following a fine cross by in-form Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
Ozil then turned provider to set up Olivier Giroud for a quick-fire second with just quarter of an hour played to leave Rafael Benitez's men shell-shocked.
It was a 10th straight win in all competitions for Arsene Wenger's side, who have stormed to the top of the Barclays Premier League and now look on course for safe passage through to the knockout stages of Europe's elite club competition.
Arsenal's victory was, however, somewhat overshadowed by reports of trouble caused by Napoli fans as they vandalised shops on Holloway Road en route to the Emirates Stadium.
It was a bright start by Arsenal, who started with England midfielder Jack Wilshere as Mikel Arteta came into the team along with fit-again Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky, while teenager Serge Gnarby, who scored in the win at Swansea on Saturday, was among the substitutes.
The Gunners swept into the lead on eight minutes with a goal of the highest quality.
Giroud, who turned 27 on Tuesday, laid the ball out to the right as Ramsey darted clear.
The Wales midfielder, enjoying a fine personal start to the new campaign, strode towards the by-line before looking up and clipping a perfectly weighted pass back towards the penalty spot. Ozil arrived on queue to cushion an instinctive half-volley past former Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina to open his Arsenal account in some style.
Before Napoli - missing injured Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, who was one of Wenger's summer targets - could mount a recovery, they trailed 2-0 on 15 minutes.
Giroud latched on to a poor throw-in to find Ozil on the right.
The German playmaker, signed from Real Madrid, waltzed past his markers and into the penalty area before cutting a pass back to Giroud, who had continued his run on through to the six-yard box and the France forward promptly crashed home his sixth goal from close range.
Benitez had talked about the need to calm the euphoria following Napoli's home win over last season's beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund on matchday one.
But for the former Liverpool boss, who guided Chelsea to Europa League success while 'interim manager' last season, it was very much a case of damage limitation before his side had even got a chance to take the match to the Gunners, who continue to impress with every performance as Ozil revels in his role as the heartbeat of the side.
Napoli had tried to raise their game before the break and defender Miguel Britos sent a towering header over the Arsenal crossbar following a corner.
However, any thoughts of a recovery were short-lived as Arsenal were soon back on the offensive - with Ramsey and Ozil the main agitators of the Italian's overworked rearguard.
Napoli captain Marek Hamsik, sporting a magnificent Mohican haircut, weaved into the Arsenal area but could not get a shot away before the ball rolled to the goalkeeper.
Arsenal came out of the blocks quickly for the second half, but this time found Napoli's defence regrouped - no doubt following a few choice words from Benitez - and no real space to exploit as both full-backs tucked in.
With just under half an hour to go, Wenger replaced Rosicky with Wilshere, but the tempo of the match had already long dropped.
It should have been 3-0 on 75 minutes when Arteta's flick-on through a crowded box was met by Laurent Koscielny, but his snapshot was straight at Reina from point-blank range.
With Dortmund beating Marseille, the group is now very much Arsenal's for the taking, with a double-header next against the Germans.
On this evidence, Wenger's men could just well be ready to make a serious tilt at going one better than Jurgen Klopp's side in 2014.