Arsenal aren’t going to win like this every game, but they’re going to do it often enough – especially over the first couple of months of the season – to be an absolute delight to watch. Let’s all get carried away because sometimes that’s fun and nice…
Arsenal are going to be very, very good value this season. On a day when Manchester City brutally and ruthlessly showed once again why nobody else need worry themselves by entertaining thoughts of winning the league, the Gunners have nevertheless confirmed the suspicion that they are absolutely good enough to return to the Champions League this time and are going to be extremely watchable as they go about it.
From the moment the fixture list was announced, there was always a tantalising prospect of Arsenal doing something quite special at the start of this season if they could parlay their impressive recruitment into instant results. That possibility is now a probability and well on its way to becoming reality. We all enjoy the jokes about “everyone plays everyone twice” but who you play when obviously matters; you only have to look at Arsenal’s self-inflicted disaster at Spurs last season to see that.
The problem is that at the time the fixtures come out you can never quite be sure when exactly is a good time to play anyone.
But with Manchester United currently a hot mess, Arsenal could rack up some serious points before facing any of the teams who look like their actual competition this season and before any real-life cynicism and weariness can intrude. After this second mighty impressive win in a row, they have Bournemouth, Fulham, Villa, United, Everton, Brentford before welcoming Spurs to the Emirates, a fixture where Arsenal’s record is in any case formidable. That starts a seven-game run that also features Liverpool, City and Chelsea but don’t worry about that now.
If anything, and if we’re going to be dementedly harsh about it, this dismantling of Leicester was slightly less impressive than the win at Palace on the opening night of the season. No, shut up. Listen. I’ve got a reason. And it’s only this. That win at Palace was the sort of win that we don’t necessarily expect from recent Arsenal sides. Most decent teams will expect to beat this iteration of Leicester at home; plenty will fail to take maximum points from Selhurst Park.
It’s splitting hairs, though, really, because while this may have been the sort of win we always know Arsenal can produce it remained a high-class example of the genre. The promise of Gabriel Jesus’ debut was translated into significant tangible reward on his home bow with a pair of goals and a pair of assists against a Leicester side who already look worrying.
Arsenal are going to be riotously entertaining this season because they are a really good side, surely the best post-Wenger Arsenal side by quite a margin. Leicester might well be the purest neutral choice in the league for entertainment, though. They are an absolutely mouthwatering combination of attacking menace and clownish defensive incompetence. If they keep throwing in the slapstick simulation offered up by Jamie Vardy and James Maddison here then they’ll even have the piss-boiling side of things boxed off as well.
There are enough far worse teams than Leicester around that they are not going to become a “You fear for them (you really do)” kind of side any time soon. But they are defensively abysmal and will rely on your Vardys and Maddisons to cover those limitations enough times to avoid everything becoming too unpleasant. They showed they remain capable of troubling the best here, and will at least face few other teams as dangerous as Arsenal going forward.
It was still a horror show, though, with the third goal highlighting just what an under-discussed loss Kasper Schmeichel is. It’s not just his reliability or his leadership, it’s the simple fact that a team gets used to the keeper behind it when they’ve been there as long as he had. Used to his ways and methods and Leicester – who weren’t exactly watertight with him – have now lost all that. There is a rudderless sense to the defending that even in the darkest set-piece-conceding farces of last season never felt quite so pronounced as it did here. That Leicester twice got within a goal of Arsenal and twice immediately handed the Gunners back their two-goal cushion speaks of a worrying sloppiness.
Already they have scored four goals and conceded six and we’re barely a week into the season. If they lose Wesley Fofana but keep James Maddison over the weeks ahead then they are going to be absolutely unmissably box office and great to watch. Unless you happen to support them.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are going to be just as good to watch but far easier to support. You can absolutely see them top of the table at the end of September if not quite by the time the World Cup rolls around. Jesus always looked smart business but it’s always nice to see those suspicions confirmed early, and for all his excellence in the opener at Selhurst Park there’s no doubt that a couple of home-debut goals help everything along. You don’t want to end up going down the “but his support play” route even if it’s true.
He was, obviously, superb here but the most exciting thing for Arsenal was that despite what the goals and assists columns might tell you it was in no way a one-man show. Jesus is precisely the player this Arsenal attack lacked last year and his presence now is already having a two-fold benefit in the improvement of the quality and outcome of the work done by everyone else.
Arsenal’s very online fans have a reasonably well-deserved reputation for, on occasion, getting slightly carried away by things. But we’re right there with them right now. And when you look at the games ahead and performances like this, if you’re not getting carried away now then frankly you don’t have blood in your veins. These are intoxicating and giddy times at the Emirates thanks in no small part to their new Messiah.