Arsenal 6-0 SC Braga
I am operating in the finite timeslot somewhere between getting home at midnight and going to work this morning: I have no time to lose.
Easy though it would have been to delay a reaction to last nightâ€™s pounding, I just couldnâ€™t let it pass that long. It was a marvellous performance.
And it was a proper 90-minute pounding too. With the game to all intents and purposes over at half time, it could have turned into an exercise in saving energy and avoiding injury, but Arsenal were having none of that; they kept harrying and hounding to the final whistle.
All the goals were memorable in some way or other, but the way Chamakh took Wilshereâ€™s cheeky back-heel was probably the pick of the bunch.
Itâ€™s worth expanding on those two players a little (see also this good piece on them in todayâ€™s Telegraph).
One is new and the other â€“ in team terms â€“ as good as new, but they offer increasing weight to the argument that Arsenalâ€™s squad is better balanced and stronger this season than it was last.
Chamakh is a revelation. A willing front man who can toil away happily, holding the ball and distributing it, but who has a real eye for goal, I would wager that Bendtner is now sweating a bit. Why on earth did Wenger scrimp on the Â£7m by waiting this long to sign him? He could have made a real difference in the back end of last season.
As for Wilshere â€“ well before the season started, there was some talk of another loan spell. Thank god that never came to pass, eh? Seeing him dovetail with Fabregas was watching two men on the same wavelength. For an 18-year-old with limited exposure to first team football, I thought he was incredibly assured.
And Fabregas – what can you say about him? Iâ€™ll leave it to Wenger:
â€œHe has taken on another dimension. People forget that he is 23 years old, [an age] where other people start. He is a fantastic influence and it is important that he leads this team to winning and I believe it is a fantastic opportunity for the young players who play alongside him to improve as well. If you are 18 years old like Wilshere and you see Fabregas who is 23, it is a big opportunity to learn a lot.”
He could have had a hat-trick and certainly had a hat-trick of assists (if you can count his pass to Chamakh for the penalty â€“ an assist to his own goal).
Kudos too to Jollygood, who by mid-September has already scored one more goal than he did throughout the whole of the 2009-10 season. What an option off the bench he could be if he keeps this up.
Overall, there are no holes to pick. We defended well and we were lethal going forward. Sure, sterner tests await â€“ but right now we are looking balanced, hungry and itâ€™s an absolute joy to watch.