The first shot has been fired in this season's race for a Champions League spot, and with it Arsenal has warned the rest of the league that they will be a force to reckon with.
Arsenal rode three first-half goals to victory at Goodison Park today. The Gunners looked composed all around and were able to take advantage of a confused Everton defense on two well-executed set pieces.
Plenty of folks have been critical of Arsene Wenger's lack of new signings, with Thomas Vermaelen being the only new addition. Vermaelen acquitted himself well in his Premier League debut, keeping the tall Marouane Fellaini in check as well as scoring a goal on a great header.
If his team is able to play at anywhere near this level every week, Le Boss' prediction about Arsenal contending for the Premier League will ring true.
Denilson got the rout started in the 26th minute with a great strike from outside the box that curled away from the outstretched hands of Tim Howard. It was a brilliant strike, if a little surprising, because Denilson doesn't normally find himself on the scoresheet.
The opening goal opened the floodgates, and the rout was on.
Everton conceded a free kick in a dangerous spot just 11 minutes later, and Robin Van Persie found Vermaelen wide open on the far post. The Belgian international made the most of his chance and placed his header into the far post. Two-nil to Arsenal.
Just when Everton thought that things couldn't get any worse, Cesc Fabregas stepped up to take a set piece in the 41st minute. He curled his shot toward the far post, and William Gallas waltzed through the defense unmarked to put his header past Tim Howard. Three-nil, and game over.
Halftime only offered a brief respite for David Moyes and his beleaguered squad. After chewing on orange slices for 15 minutes and pondering where things started to go wrong, they realized that they had to play another 45 minutes against the well-oiled Arsenal offensive juggernaut.
Three minutes into the second half, Arsenal put another notch in their belt when Cesc Fabregas beat Tim Howard one-on-one. Howard nearly made the save with his legs, but Fabregas' shot just had too much power on it.
In the space of 48 minutes, a fixture that had looked to be very competitive in the build-up had turned into a lopsided blowout.
Arsenal's captain added another goal in the 70th minute. Manuel Almunia threw the ball out to Fabregas, situated deep in his own half. Everton allowed Cesc to run unchecked to the edge of their box, where he tucked his shot past Howard right into the bottom corner of the net.
After netting the brace, Fabregas ran over to the Arsenal bench and grabbed a shirt with Daniel Jarque's name and number on the back, holding it up to the crowd in tribute to his recently-deceased countryman.
Even Eduardo got into the action after coming on as a late sub for Van Persie. In the 89th minute, he scored his first EPL goal in over a year after collecting a rebound off the post.
Poor Tim Howard, his defense abandoned him this afternoon.
Louis Saha snagged a consolation goal in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late. Arsenal were never troubled and now their rivals in the top four will be a bit nervous.
This result should make the rest of the league very wary of Arsenal. They scored five goals against a good Everton side despite having to cope with the absence of Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott. When those three return to fitness, Wenger will have even more attacking options at his disposal. Who said that Adebayor would be missed?
Wenger's club clearly has the requisite offensive firepower to win the league and Thomas Vermaelen seems to be the injection of quality at the back that was so desperately needed last season.
Arsenal fans can rest easy this week. Their club dominated Everton and now find themselves atop the table on goal differential.
Man of the match
It can't be anybody but Cesc Fabregas. His great delivery created the Gallas goal and he added a brace in the second half to punctuate the victory. It's performances like this that make Arsenal fans everywhere glad that Fabregas hasn't been wooed by Barcelona's overtures.