Red-hot Gunners finally find fire to match smoke
Arsenal 5 Everton 1
After all the transfer smoke, some transformative Arsenal fire. This win over a pathetic Everton was one of those days for Arsenal that explained why new acquisitions allows supporters to dream. There was high-level football and a hat-trick for Aaron Ramsey to go with the hope that followed the transfer hype.
It took a mere six minutes for the three men who put pen to paper for Arsenal this week to link up for a goal, just 20 for the team to settle this game, and just 37 for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to get a debut goal set up by first-time starter and three-time assister Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Mesut Ozil is not a new signing but his new contract may well be the most significant development of the window for Arsenal, and it was his touch that started the move for the first goal and got everything moving on the day.
There is also the other side to the reality of this match. Everton were utterly dreadful. Their form under Sam Allardyce has drastically declined, and here it led to total collapse.
As good as that opening strike involving Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and then goalscorer Ramsey was, Arsenal had so much space to work in. A pattern was set, and Arsenal just continued to course through Everton from that point on.
Allowing space around the box is one thing for an Allardyce side but from a set-piece? These were the back-to-basic first principles that the manager was supposed to restore but were conspicuous by their absence for the second goal as Laurent Koscielny's back-post header from Shkodran Mustafi's near-post flick-on doubled the hosts' advantage.
Ramsey was again allowed the freedom of the half to power in Arsenal's third on 21 minutes, before Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang offered their own throwback to the Borussia Dortmund days for the latter's dinked first goal. Aubameyang got the goal, Ramsey ended up getting the hat-trick but it was Mkhitaryan who deserves most of the praise.
He looked a player released, and refreshed. This was initial evidence of the idea he needs soft guidance rather than a hard edge to get the best out of him.
An Everton revival was hinted at with a late rally here and a goal through substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin, although it might just as much have been down to the fact the game was over.
As regards reality and expectations, some might think it appropriate that Everton's goal was scored by the man who replaced Theo Walcott, on his - typically - frustrating return to Arsenal. Walcott's former team-mate Ramsey couldn't miss late on, as he guided in his third goal and Arsenal's fifth thanks to yet another Mkhitaryan assist.
It was his first hat-trick for the club, and you could forgive those here thinking it was another sign of a new lease of life. It's just that kind of talk is by now old hat at this club. The reality right now is that the new signings - including Ozil - took off in terms of their play. There was fire to go with the smoke.
Sunday Indo Sport