Galatasaray vs Arsenal match report: Aaron Ramsey electrifies Arsenal with timely return to form with Lukas Podolski with brace as well

Galatasaray 1 Arsenal 4

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The Independent Football

Arsenal did not finish top of Group D but they did find something that could be far more rewarding: the return to form of Aaron Ramsey.

It has been a difficult season for Ramsey but he found his voice again on Tuesday night, scoring twice – one of them remarkable – and setting up another in a brilliant 45-minute display. He did not play the second half – there was some concern he might have tweaked his troublesome hamstring – as Arsenal coasted to victory. Saturday’s defeat to Stoke and the abuse of Arsène Wenger felt very far away.

The bad, if unsurprising news, from Germany was that Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 with Anderlecht. Had Arsenal pushed for 7-1, they would have finished top, but they did not. This leaves Arsenal with yet another second-placed finish, meaning yet another meeting with a seed when the competition resumes in February. That could well mean a futile tie with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

But that can wait. Arsenal’s immediate priority is domestic football and they are far stronger with Ramsey at the top of his game. He was inspirational last season, before his Boxing Day muscle injury, and he still scored the winner in the FA Cup final in May.

This season, though, he has looked devoid of rhythm and fitness, picking up a hamstring injury in September and losing much of what makes him so good.There were some signs in Saturday’s defeat at Stoke, in which Ramsey scored, that he was sparking back into form. But on Tuesday night, against a very accommodating Galatasaray, it all came flooding back.

 It took two minutes for it to become clear that this was a new Ramsey. Galatasaray barely looked interested in defending, not least at the start, and when Ramsey first picked the ball up in midfield he was free to carry it forward. So he did, before slipping a smart pass through to Lukas Podolski, who finished emphatically with his left foot.


This was the confident play that had been evading Ramsey, and when Burak Yilmaz had Galatasaray’s one chance to get back into the game, it was Ramsey who denied him in his own penalty area with a perfectly-timed tackle.

From that point on there was only one team competing. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ran down the middle of the pitch and, before he was finally challenged, he knocked the ball forward to Ramsey, running into the box. Rather than snatching at it, Ramsey  rolled the ball with his left foot into the far bottom corner. Arsenal were rampant.

Podolski hit the bar, Yaya Sanogo had a shot blocked, and Joel Campbell one deflected behind. But the highlight of their night – and perhaps their whole European campaign – was yet to come. Ramsey set up Podolski, who forced yet another corner. The ball flew back out of the box, to Ramsey, lurking over 30 yards out. With no real back-lift, he volleyed the ball left-footed into the opposite top corner of the net.

It was a remarkable strike, both the audacity and the execution demonstrating how Ramsey’s confidence has returned. When he curled a free-kick in with the outside of his boot, giving Calum Chambers a free header with which he ought to have done better, it was no surprise. Wenger took Ramsey off the break. He had done more than enough.

Podolski strikes his first


With Gedion Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles – both 17 – on in midfield, Arsenal were naturally less solid in the second half, and even had some occasional pieces of defending to do.

Bruma ought to have done better with one chance, before Per Mertesacker threw himself in front of Bulut’s shot. Mathieu Debuchy, making his first Arsenal appearance for three months, made a heroic far-post header to stop Yasin Öztekin from scoring. There was time for one more debut – as Stefan O’Connor replaced Debuchy – and even for two brilliant meaningless goals in the final minutes. First, Wesley Sneijder beat Wojciech Szczesny with a free-kick into the top corner. Then, with the last action of the game, Podolski ran through Galatasaray’s half before finding the bottom corner with the last kick.