The north London side all but booked a place in the Champions League group stages with an emphatic 3-0 victory in Turkey.
Arsenal, and in particular Arsene Wenger, will take some relief in the team’s 3-0 win at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Wednesday night, as the under-fire Gunners overcame a frenzied atmosphere to beat Fenerbahce.
The Premier League side bounced back after losing 3-1 at home to Aston Villa at the weekend, and never really looked in much discomfort in the win. Here are five things that come to the attention after the English side’s victory.
Arsenal are a better team with Santi Cazorla included
The Spain international began from the bench against Villa, but started in the clash in Turkey. His fast feet, trickiness and ability to link up with his fellow midfielders make him an important man for the Gunners.
Cazorla looked sharp and was central to Arsenal’s attacking impetus – it could be a big season for the former Malaga man, who must surely command a starting berth more often than not.
Aaron Ramsey can play as an enforcer
Ramsey is not your traditional muscle-bound midfielder battler, but the Wales international certainly has all the attributes to play in a deep-lying role in the boiler room.
Arguably the Gunners’ best player on the night, Ramsey hassled and harried his opponents when they had the ball, was always open for a team-mate to pass to and played his part in the side’s attacking efforts.
Arsenal have excellent options at left back
Kieron Gibbs played well at left-back for Arsenal, looking assured in possession and displaying excellent positional awareness to nullify Dirk Kuyt as an attacking threat.
With highly rated Spaniard Nacho Monreal in competition, the Gunners have two international-quality players to chose from in that position.
Walcott on the wing is effective
Theo Walcott has ambitions of playing through the middle for the Gunners, being transformed to take up a striker position similar to how Wenger changed Thierry Henry from a wideman to a goal machine.
However, the England international showed in Turkey that his best position is on the wing. He has played the guts of his career on the flank and has the speed and trickery to be one of the best wingers in Europe.
He gave Michal Kadlec a torrid night, and looked like a constant threat for the Gunners.
Write off Arsenal at your peril
Yes, it has been a frustrating summer in the transfer window and an opening day defeat to Aston Villa is not ideal. However, those doomsayers that are predicting a complete Arsenal demise can think again.
The Gunners will now play in the Champions League group stages for the 16th consecutive season and will more than likely strengthen before the transfer window closes.
Whether Arsenal can put a title bid in remains to be seen, but any notions that they would slip away from the top-four reckoning are folly. On their day Arsenal can still beat anyone.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald