Arsenal underlined their credentials as serious challengers for the Premier League title with an imperious 4-1 win over Wolverhampton on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s side were widely written off as also-rans after an unsettling pre-season, but they look increasingly capable of pushing Chelsea and Manchester United for the English crown.
The Gunners were at their eye-catching best at Molineux as own goals from Ronald Zubar and Jody Craddock were followed by strikes from Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin to move them above United into second place – two points behind leaders Chelsea.
Wenger’s team are playing some of the best football in the country at present and are unquestionably the most lethal, with 55 goals in all competitions.
Arsenal, who have gone four seasons without a trophy, are determined to muscle in on the title race this season and 24 hours before United and Chelsea locked horns at Stamford Bridge, they put down their own marker.
They are averaging three goals a game and hit that mark before half-time with a mix of brilliance and sheer good luck.
Wolves played a major part in their own downfall, even though boss Mick McCarthy had insisted they would not roll over for the only team he would pay to watch in the top flight.
In a 14 minute spell, McCarthy’s side did not so much roll over as get well and truly mauled.
Zubar started the downfall when he nudged Fabregas’s 28th minute corner into his own net after goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey made a hash of collecting inside the six-yard box.
Wenger hardly needed any luck but it came in bucketloads for a team he reckons could be as exciting as his ‘Invincibles’, who went through the entire 2003-04 league season without defeat.
In the 36th minute, Eduardo’s chip was heading miles wide of the far post until striking Craddock’s head to loop over Hennessey.
If the first two were lucky, the third from Fabregas was pure class.
The Arsenal captain finished off a move he started on the half-way line after Robin Van Persie’s brilliant lay-off.
McCarthy knows life at this level was always going to be tough and things are not likely to get any easier at Chelsea next week.
At least Wolves, who are third from bottom of the table, limited the damage in the second period and restricted Arsenal to a solitary strike from Arshavin.
The Russia winger volleyed in from the edge of the area – after a poor punch from Hennessey – to increase McCarthy’s misery.
Craddock’s 89th minute header will be no consolation for McCarthy who has another relegation scrap looming and the former Republic of Ireland manager has his work cut out to survive.
As for Wenger, he has a squad capable of really pushing United and Chelsea all the way this season.
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