If today’s game were a barbeque then the Arsenal players would have been laying on sun beds holding colourful cocktails with little umbrellas in their hands while Middlesbrough, the sacrificial lamb, were slowly being roasted over hot coals?
This was a day by the pool, a stroll in the park, a cruise: Arsenal were in complete control from the first minute until the last; we were treated to flashes of vintage Wengerball: fast, accurate, fluid inter play, of a standard that we haven’t witnessed for what seems like an eternity.
Middlesbrough seemed to be almost resigned to their fate of championship football next season, putting up a feeble challenge and therefore making ideal opponents in preparation for our big game on Wednesday — not as ideal as if we had beaten the spuds by three clear goals —but certainly a very good second best.
Wenger’s team selection seemed to make more sense, it’s funny how it always does when we win; Middlesbrough are not a particularly tall or physical team and so our more skilful, low centre of gravity, players were chosen: Fabregas, Arshavin and Nasri’s silky skills were all on display in the midday sun at the Emirates stadium today.
I haven’t seen Fabregas look that happy in a while, I always felt he looked a bit sad after the departure of Hleb to the Barcelona bench. Fabregas is our equivalent of the gifted child at school surrounded by children of inferior talent. Rosicky should have supplied the mental stimulus, the footballing challenges to drive Fabregas on, to push him to want to keep improving; unfortunately we all know that sad story.
Enter Arshavin, the new boy, someone with the same intellect, some might even say that he is brighter, smarter, a quicker football brain and more deft of foot, Suddenly Fabregas has got someone to play with, a mental equal, he is back to playing with a smile on his face and loving it.
After putting the seal on two beautifully worked team goals Fabregas was taken off in an attempt to keep him fresh for Wednesday. The standing ovation he was given was delivered with more gusto than anyone has ever received since the new stadium opened.
Almunia: calm, collected, showed just how much we missed him. 7.5
Eboue: good game, not much to do, noticeable how he doesn’t get as tight as Sagna…Maluda! Played a superb pass for Cesc’s second. 7
Toure: King Kolo, he probably became the most important player on the pitch for us in the sense that he was the player we could least afford to get injured. 7.5
Silvestre: what he did he did well, what I thought was interesting was that when Djuorou came on he showed the kind of inexperience that led to mistakes the kind Silvestre doesn’t make, so I suppose you have a choice: Silvestre, experience and lack of pace or Djourou: pace and errors. 6.5
Gibbs: I am almost there with this player; he did better than I expected against Chelsea if he can contain Ronaldo on Wednesday he will have made one huge fan in me. 7.5
Walcott: getting better and better still can’t control the ball as well as he should. 7
Denilson: learning his trade. 6.5
Nasri: played a deeper role for the first time; I suspect that Wenger is trying to find a way of shoe horning all these talented players into the team. 7
Fabregas: two goals, happy boy. 8
Arshavin: his control is so superior to any other player in the team, when the ball is played to him he controls it instantly, this I accept should not be such a great feat, after all, that is what footballers are supposed to do, so to give this the right perspective I will have to say this; he controls it as well as Bergkamp. 8
Bendtner: he tries but unless you can control the ball Nicky when it comes to you then we the fans are going to continue to call out for an attacker who can. This game was made for Eduardo, tragic. 6