Arsene Wenger heralded the return to fitness of midfielder Abou Diaby as a 'massive' boost for Arsenal after the France international orchestrated victory against Liverpool in his first full 90 minutes for over 12 months.
Diaby, restricted to just five appearances last season due to hamstring, groin and calf injuries, dominated against Brendan Rodgers' team as goals from summer signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla secured a comfortable victory at Anfield.
While the performances of Podolski and Cazorla were eye-catching and hugely encouraging for Arsenal following the recent departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United, it was Diaby's return to prominence which defined Arsenal's victory.
"You can see that Diaby is massive for us," Wenger said. "He is a tremendous football player who has everything you want in midfield. He hasn't played a full game for a year, but he had a good pre-season and we just gave him 45 minutes every three days.
"Now he looks in a good shape. There is more to come from him, but what he has shown today is very good. I was highly worried about him while he was out, but I always stood behind him because he is a fantastic guy as well as a fantastic player.
"Let's hope he survives the international break because he is going with the French national team and he will travel a lot and play two games in four days, so let's hope he comes back in a good shape."
"It means a lot to be back because last year was a really difficult season for me," Diaby said. "I was desperate to come back and I was really happy to be back on the field.
"Hopefully, I can keep going like that for the whole season now because we have some great new players and that is what we have been waiting for."
Diaby's return, combined with the arrival of Cazorla from Malaga, has bolstered Arsenal's midfield options, even with Alex Song's recent departure to Barcelona. And Wenger claims that Jack Wilshere could further improve his midfield by returning from a year-long injury lay-off in the coming weeks.
"Wilshere is looking very good in training," Wenger said. "Is he close? We will see and we will give him another month, but it looks very good. In a month, he should be starting to play again.
"But look at our midfield. You have (Mikel) Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere, (Francis) Coquelin, (Tomas) Rosicky, (Aaron) Ramsey. There is a fight for the places, but there is quality there.
"Are we better than we were last season? It is too early, but I am confident we can build on that.
"We have things to work on and there is a good potential."