After a season of disappointment, a summer of relative inactivity, and the loss of the last player from the '03-'04 Invincibles, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for entering this season in a mood of despondency. But any negativity around the Emirates will have been swept away after Saturday's convincing demolition of Everton.
After 20 minutes of stalemate, Arsenal began to control the game and, following a wonderful goal from Denilson, Everton crumbled. Despite Arsenal's summer travails in the transfrer market, they pale in comparison to the complete inactivity in the blue half of Merseyside. And with Joleon Lescott likely to find the door for himself to join former Gunners Toure and Adebayor at big spending Manchester City, things look grim for the Toffees.
Despite Everton's feeble performance, Arsenal must be credited for the ruthlessness they showed in exploiting the poor quality of the opposition in front of them. Everton have been traditionally a strong defensive unit, unlikely to concede from set pieces. Goals from debutante Thomas Vermaelen and his central defensive partner William Gallas will have done nothing for confidence at Goodison Park.
Being 3-0 down at half-time, it is easy to excuse those Everton fans who left at half time. Their team had shown very little to suggest that they would find a way back into the game. Any kind of extra impetus that may have been given them by manager David Moyes at half time was quickly killed off by an Arsenal fourth, Van Persie feeding Fabregas to finish a sweeping Arsenal move.
Arsenal's fifth summed up Everton's malaise. Fabregas picked up a throw from keeper Almunia and proceeded to run all of 50 yards unchallenged to the edge of the Everton area before firing in a low shot past Everton keeper Howard, who by this point had probably given up. A late consolation goal from Louis Saha will do little to lighten the mood of the Everton faithful.
Despite the nature of his team's victory, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must not, and mostly likely will not, get carried away. Despite his pre-season prediction of Arsenal winning the Premier League, Wenger is smart enough to realise that a 6-1 away victory on the opening day of the season is something of a freak result.
Despite this, Arsenal, on this showing, possess a lot of quality. Their most strenuous tests may not come from the teams that they will finish around, who may play into their hands by playing attacking football. If Arsenal wish to win the title again, Blackburn, Wigan, Bolton etc. must be successfully negotiated. Arsenal picked up four points against Manchester United last season, but only 2 against the lesser lights of Sunderland. This will have to be improved if they are to seriously challenge for the Premier League.