Arsène Wenger has built has various Arsenal teams with key attributes that include technical quality, quick passing and movement and a precision in their play that – when it works – is breathtaking and what football should be all about. For the first 20 minutes of yesterday’s game that is exactly what we were treated to.

In the aftermath of an insipid Olympiakos performance, Sunday’s big game against the league leaders going in to this weekend, feels like another phoenix rising majestically from the ashes of midweek disappointment. Make no mistake about it; the way the team started yesterday was a consequence of their desire to right the wrongs, as a selection of players alluded to in the post match TV interviews and social media.

It was a blitzkreig of a performance. It was a series of rapid knock out blows that effectively secured all three points after half an hour. It was the Arsenal at their very best. And it was done with a swagger that you don’t normally see in the big clashes in the Premier League. And this was a big clash. United may not have been ripping up trees performance-wise this season, but they’ve picked up points and found themselves as the form team of the opening few months of the season, as denoted by the fact they’d topped the table for the first time since Sir Alex had left the club. But they came across an Arsenal side in full retaliation mode, to which you and I were the beneficiaries to witness, yesterday.

There was post-match punditry talk about how poor United were, about how tactically wrong van Gaal got his team selection with Schweinsteiger pushed further up the pitch and Özil finding gaps between the defence and midfield with ease, but I prefer to look at the Arsenal performance and what we got right rather than what United got wrong. I would also point to Carrick – one of the most experience midfielders in the team and quite adept at sitting in front of the back four – as an example of why playing Schneiderlin in yesterday’s game may still have not been enough to thwart this Arsenal team.

Not when they’re in that imperious mood as they were yesterday.

Everything went right and every player turned up. From front to back. Özil was majestic in the first half, pulling the strings, finding the killer balls and finishing with a confidence that proclaimed loudly “don’t do it in big games, eh? Have some of this”. It was exactly what all of the half-arsed pundits didn’t want to see, because it doesn’t allow them to peddle the same boring narrative about how he’s ‘lazy’, or ‘never does it in big games’. Well this was a big game and he dominated it. One assist, one goal and time after time the good football flowed through him. It was brilliant.

But everyone was brilliant yesterday, including that man Alexis, with whom rumours of his demise were wildly mistaken. His two goals were things of beauty. The deft touch for our first on six minutes was only outdone by the ferocity of the finish for number three. That third goal was one of those that the more I watch it, the more impressive it looks, because he hardly needs any back lift to generate such power as he does. In doing so, it also doesn’t allow the ‘keeper an extra half a second to set himself, so the ball was past De Gea before even he had the time to react hit the net whilst most others were wondering what had happened. It was a thing of beauty and with the comfort of hindsight we can say that the damage had been done. The three points were secured, provided Arsenal could manage the game properly to its conclusion.

And it’s for that reason that I found the second half almost as pleasing, because we never really looked like conceding, keeping United at arms length and letting them throw some pretty lightweight attacks at us. When they did manage to penetrate, Cech was there to mop up, doing so from pot-shots from Rooney and Young, as well as making an important stop with his legs just before halftime. He also made a number of decent and comfortable-looking catches all day, something that was a pleasing sight to my hungover eyes.

I thought the whole team played well. There wasn’t one player who was less than seven out of ten. Monreal and Bellerin looked calm, composed and good going forward, Big Per did well to snuff out balls low and high into the box, whilst Gabriel was once again in tenacious form, winning the ball back and snapping in to challenges. Coquelin protected them all well and was equally as tenacious as Gabriel, whilst besides him Santi pulled the strings like a puppetmaster controls his marianettes for the gathered onlookers. His ball retention, his close control and eye for a pass, all of it was superb and it allowed Özil to operate in those pockets of space that set us up for counter attacking football. Up top, Theo was once again showing that with every game as a centre forward he improves, whilst Ramsey’s intensity showed how important he is, particularly in the second half.

That second half though. Some might call it ‘boring’, but I just call it ‘controlling’. I’ve lost count of the amount of games against Chelski or United in the past when we’ve gone one down and the game was effectively over as we huffed and puffed whilst United/Chelski just hold us back and control the game. We did the same yesterday. We had the game won, then in a display of perfect game management, we ceded possession and focused on keeping a perfect shape and defensive solidity. Then when the opportunity arose, we countered, and we could have scored more.

Speaking of game management, it would be remiss of me not to mention Arsène’s role in this success, because he is just as important to recognise as the players. He is the one who takes the stick when the team aren’t prepared enough and under-perform, so he deserves the praise when they are as good as they were yesterday. The set up was right, the attacking was done in a way in which United could not contain, but more than that he got it right tactically in the second half. It would have been easy to try and go for the jugular and commit bodies forward searching for revenge of the 8-2 victory, but first and foremost was the points needed, so the cautious second half was vital. He even shifted it in the second half, moving Ramsey centrally and Özil out wide to protect the central midfield area more with Rambo’s running. So the win needs to be attributed to him too. It was a big game, we turned up and got a result and with the international break upon us, it affords us the ability to hold on to the feel good factor for a little bit longer than usual.

Theo said after the game that this sends a message to the rest of the Premier League. I’m not sure that anybody didn’t already know that we could be a threat and can perform as we did, but perhaps it sends a message to the team itself: you could be good enough to win the league. But you have to perform like this for the next seven months. 

Happy Monday Gooners.