EPL: Glowing Gunners


(Santi Cazorla 19, Aaron Ramsey 59)


There is a change in the mood at the Emirates Stadium.

There is a growing sense of comfort and security as the anxieties of the past are chased away.

They are five points clear at the top of the Premier League table and they feel that they belong there.

Frankly, it's getting harder and harder to argue.

Rival supporters continue to insist that the Gunners are yet to test themselves against a serious side, but with Liverpool joining Tottenham and Napoli on Arsene Wenger's new belt of scalps, that argument is low on credibility.

Liverpool boast two of the hottest strikers in the league, they had an impressive 20 points on the board already.

And yet they were carved up like everyone else in front of a jubilant crowd.

And it's the crowd where the change is most obvious.


The Emirates is rarely a cauldron of noise, it's generally more like of a bowl of grumble.

On Sunday morning (Singapore time), it was intimidatingly loud. These supporters have their swagger back. They don't cringe at the first misplaced pass or exacerbate the nerves of their players by moaning.

They drowned out the Liverpool supporters, usually such boisterous travelers, with ease.

Brendan Rodgers has enjoyed some success with his back three, still a rare sight in the Premier League, but it never stood a chance here.

Wenger sent his fullbacks up to stretch the backline, a mission made far easier by the inadequacies of Aly Cissokho and Mamadou Sakho.

Bacary Sagna may never have had a better game. The French right back put so much pressure on Cissokho that Rodgers was forced to withdraw him at the break for his own good.

In the middle of the pitch, Arsenal enjoyed total domination.

Again, they were aided by the surprisingly poor performances of Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva, but there were moments when the Gunners' passing was as good as any football that this stadium has seen since it opened in 2006.

This, of course, is another manifestation of the change in confidence.

Last season, players were more comfortable retaining possession, making short, sideways passes.

This season, there's more intent.

More players are prepared to take the risk of an incisive through-ball.

Up front, Olivier Giroud has finally been able to consistently reproduce the form that saw him lead Montpellier to an unexpected French league title.

It's not just the impressive rate of goalscoring, though that is obviously appreciated, it's the all-round work-rate.

Even up against a line of three centrebacks, he continued to hold his own, feeding the ball to other players, bringing his teammates into the game. Confidence.

This was a riposte to those who believed that defeats by Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea had put out the fire.

It was an emphatic display of domination against a team who, while not being serious title contenders, have picked up more than enough points to be shown respect.

It was, in every sense of the word, something to shout about.

The same issues remain, however.

Behind Giroud, there is only Nicklas Bendtner and his display against Chelsea did not encourage the view that he is a viable alternative.

While Mikel Arteta gave a display of great authority and Tomas Rosicky was tigerish in his challenges, the team still look more balanced with Mathieu Flamini and he is the only midfielder of his type in the squad.

Arsenal have an excellent team, but one look at the substitute's bench was enough to remind you of the lingering deficiencies.

But there are only two months until the transfer window opens again. And Arsenal have money.

Attention now turns to the Champions League and a foreboding trip to Dortmund on Thursday morning (Singapore time).

This weekend, Arsenal travel to Old Trafford. If they come out of those two games with positive results, it will be harder than ever to write them off.

Get The New Paper for more stories.