Arsenal once again defeated Everton at home to sustain this new positive atmosphere around the club, but did we learn anything?
It hasn’t been a bad week for Arsenal.
The trip to Swansea was a disaster, but picking up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the way back and then sticking five past Everton was a decent way to recover.
Arsenal love playing Everton at home and must have got an extra kick out of stuffing one of Sam Allardyce’s teams.
Aubameyang scored his first goal for the club, Mkhitaryan got three assists and Ramsey bagged a hat-trick in a convincing display.
Here are some things we learned from the game.
1Everyone is on the same page – for now
Tranquillity has returned to the club now that Alexis Sanchez is gone. He wasn’t some villain or anything, but it was impossible to enjoy anything with him in the team.
Every good performance was followed by the dreaded “yeah but” as his future usurped the headlines.
Crucially, his exit was followed by two exciting arrivals and Ozil extending his contract.
That has left the fans in surprisingly good mood in a season short of positive moments.
We know that the Arsenal fanbase can turn in an instant, but for now, it seems there’s a delicate unity among the supporters.
2Xhaka has Wenger’s confidence
Xhaka’s performance against Swansea was nothing short of a disgrace, so it was a little surprising to see him keep his place against Everton.
The Swiss has been responsible for a decent number of goals we’ve conceded this season.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny had started the last four matches and was looking decent. The Everton game would have been an opportunity to keep the Egyptian in the side, most likely at Xhaka’s expense.
It’s clear, though, that Wenger is willing to give Xhaka chances to find his form.
On this occasion, he delivered a good performance.
He now has to show that Wenger’s continued confidence in his abilities is not misplaced.
3Wilshere may struggle to reclaim a starting place
It only took a week out due to illness for Wilshere to lose his place to Aaron Ramsey. He had been enjoying one of his best runs in the side before then, but may find getting back in the team a struggle.
Ramsey is a sure-starter regardless of his hat-trick heroics, while Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be the creative hub of the team.
Unless Wenger plans on using Wilshere as a holding midfielder or as a wide player, there’s simply not enough room for him in the starting line-up.
It’s not all bad, though.
Competition for places is a healthy thing for a team to have, and Wilshere gives us an excellent option off the bench. Just as he’s proven his fitness this year, he can prove he’s better than our other midfielders as well.
4Alex Iwobi can shine in our new set-up
Iwobi was another surprise inclusion in the starting eleven.
He had a “nearly” game where he produced some fine moments yet also couldn’t quite find the final pass. Still, he didn’t look out of place in this “new” Arsenal.
The Nigerian international is an energetic player who lacks end product yet links-up very well with the players around him. His combinations with Ozil and Mkhitaryan helped unlock the Everton defence, and his willingness to track back and aid the defence gives us better balance on whichever flank he’s playing on.
The fans will have other ideas on who should play instead, but Iwobi can really shine in this new attack.
5Mkhitaryan takes the burden off Ozil
Three assists on your first start isn’t bad, is it?
Not since Santi Cazorla in 2013 has an Arsenal player managed to set-up three or more goals in a game. Mkhitaryan has earned many comparisons with the Spaniard and you can see why – he just oozes class and intelligence.
Arsenal have so often looked to Ozil for inspiration, but in Mkhitaryan they have a creator who can play anywhere in attack while Ozil drops deep.
The partnership between the two will be crucial to how Arsenal will play from now on.
If the Everton game is anything to go by, it’s going to be exciting.
6We still can’t concentrate for 90 minutes
Even in a 5-1 win, there were problems.
One was was our lack of focus in the second half, which saw Everton take the initiative and get a goal back.
It only proved to be a consolation, but it’s a reminder that Arsenal must remain focused for the full 90 minutes if they want to put a run of wins together.
We can hurt teams in short bursts. Now it’s time to improve how we manage games.
7Cech will never get his 200th clean sheet
Between his own errors and the rickety defence that plays in front of him, that 200th Premier League clean sheet is never going to arrive.
Even with his team 4-0 up and comfortable, Cech still can’t be confident of keeping a goal out.
8Allardyce tempted fate
It may be petty to laugh at a manager who just suffered a 5-1 defeat, but in Allardyce’s case, he really tempted fate with his pre-match comments.
“It’s about being able to nullify the strengths of Arsenal and then, I’ve always felt, that defensively they are weak because of the amount of players they commit forward,” he said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“They haven’t scored as many goals as they have done in recent years at this stage of the season which gives us an opportunity to try and shut them out.”
The funny thing was, he wasn’t necessarily wrong in his assessment of the team. Had he won, he’d be a genius right about now.
Fortunately, we were spared a smug Allardyce when his team, in his words, played like crap and Arsenal, for once, did not.