OK Arsenal fans, you win. I was given a torrid time by you all yesterday when I said that there were tough times ahead for your club. I pointed out that the last thing Arsene Wenger needed right now was a game against a resurgent Newcastle side.
With my immensely knowledgeable prediction of pending doom and gloom for the Gunners still fresh in the mind they went on to produce a performance of such quality in the 3-0 victory at The Emirates that any football supporter, other than a Newcastle fan of course, couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have failed to have enjoyed watching them play.
The trademark passing and movement that Arsenal produced, all done at great pace, was at times simply breathtaking. Whereas often in the past, the flowing football Arsenal are known for hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always had an end product, they did find the net three times and could have had many more.
Newcastle were not quite at full strength and they did create one or two decent chances of their own, but they were utterly blown away and brushed aside by a team who for the first time this season looked more than capable of maintaining a challenge for the Premier League title.
With Gallas and Toure looking more like the competent partnership that we saw early last season than the less than competent partnership we saw towards the end, Fabregas and Nasri looking like they have played together for years and a now fully fit Van Persie sharing the attacking threat with the excellent Adebayor, Arsenal suddenly looked like the team Wenger wants them to be and believes they can be.
“I’m very pleased with the performance, both offensively and defensively. It was a complete one, there was great balance in the team, with movement. Apart from at the start of the second half, we were always in control and played the game we love, and showed the way we can play. The improvement comes from a completely different attitude.”
There is no doubt that Wenger and his players gave a resounding answer to the critics who have been suggesting that they havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t got what it will take to do well this season.
Elsewhere in the Premier League yesterday there were other notable performances. Wigan produced a 5-0 win at newly promoted Hull City. Wigan had not picked up a point from their opening two games and although they played well and scored some good goals, the result will send a major Derby County like warning to those at Hull City. The fact is that Wigan had no more scoring opportunities than Hull did, but the clinical way the chances were put away was a stark warning to all the promoted sides about what is needed at this level.
At Upton Park, Blackburn manager Paul Ince didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get the predicted shower of abuse from the West Ham fans. The game turned out to be a triumph for West Ham manager Alan Curbishley who is currently possibly a man more disliked by the West Ham fans than Paul Ince, as the home side ran out winners 4-1. The scoreline was very flattering to the Hammers and two of their goals came in stoppage time at the end of the game.
Portsmouth got their season up and running with a 3-0 win at Everton, for who another fifth placed finish this season looks to be a bit of a tall order. There were signs during the game that Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe may be beginning to establish some sort of partnership. If they do, Pompey will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.
Stoke City defended with ten men for well over half the game at Middlesbrough after Amdy Faye was sent off for what we can generously call a clumsy lunge. They very nearly managed to escape with a point but late Tuncay strike gave the home side a deserved 2-1 win.
At the Reebok, West Brom picked up their first point of the season in a 0-0 draw with Bolton. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a pretty game but both sides could have won it and will feel that they should have done.
So what have we learned from those games? Well, in truth, not much more than we already knew. The only change for me was that Arsenal have re-established themselves as a top four team. I know that you Gooners never had any doubts, but to the neutral observer it did look as though cracks on and off the pitch were starting to appear. They couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have responded to that suggestion in any better way than they did yesterday.