Leaving the Emirates last night, after Arsenal had blitzed Aston Villa over 95+ minutes, I’m sure I wasn’t the only Gooner thinking “that’s more like it” as I queued for the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington.

One swallow does not a summer make and one performance does not a ‘click’ or ‘turnaround’ materialise, but after the disappointment of Monday’s draw at home to Palace, last night was the perfect tonic for the weekend and many of us can feel good about The Arsenal as we go through our weekend.

Mikel Arteta had challenged his team to step up and not be so passive in pockets of games and whilst it’s become common for teams to recognise that Arsenal tend to start well, the fact we maintained that momentum pretty much throughout the game was testament to the teams mentality and perhaps showed that they are all motivated to perform for this manager.

In the pub before I met some faces I hadn’t seen in a while and it was nice to catch up and shoot the Arsenal breeze, but there was apprehension ahead of the game, after the poor performance of Monday. I lamented that we don’t go in to games with that “oh well, we should win today” mentality as Arsenal fans these days, but what I didn’t think is that Mike would switch it up a bit. I tweeted out that I wanted to see Auba and Laca as a front two, Ødegaard and Smith Rowe as the wide players with Partey and Lokonga in the middle holding territory in a sort of 4-2-2-2 formation, but I didn’t really expect Arteta to go for that. I think he did though, albeit Saka instead of Ødegaard, with the Englishman deemed fit after he was assaulted on Monday.

Normally we’re used to Auba shunted wide but he was very much central, as was Lacazette, probably playing more as a deeper-lying striker/number 10 to be fair, but the fact that he had come on and linked up so well with Auba on Monday must have struck a chord with Mikel and he went for it last night.

It worked.

Both players had an impact on the team. Both players hassled, harried, had an impact in terms of the goals and end product with Lacazette winning the penalty and Auba tucking it away the second time. I did find the Villa protestations about the fact that the whistle didn’t blow as soon as the ball was saved, but as Kelly Cates pointed out on Sky Sports after the game, there was still eight seconds of play left and if you listen to the actual whistle the ref blew, it was only once which is to signal a passage of play. Superb refereeing and superb that it left Villa furious and Martinez with his head in his hands.

He was subject to a bit of banter from the fans last night, was old Emi, and you have to say he kind of deserves it. As fans we liked him, many of us were sad he left, he did a lovely farewell message. But the amount of yapping he’s been doing since he left is a bit embarrassing really. He’s constantly gone on-and-on about his reasons and frankly, nobody cares any more. It’s done mate. Go have your career at Villa. We’ve got Aaron Ramsdale and as we all sang in the stadium last night, he’s better than you.

We were dominant from first minute to last minute but I have to say when Partey hit the post just before the corner that led to his headed goal, I wondered whether he was actually John Jensen 2.0. It seemed like he’d never get off the mark so when he nodded in the corner it would have been a welcome relief for all concerned. He can put that behind him and hopefully it can spell the start of a bit of confidence.

Partey played well, but so did Lokonga and in the middle of the park we looked so much more dynamic. We moved the ball quicker, we pressed quicker and we created chances all night. Tierney’s injury before the game was a worry, but in Tavares we have an exciting young full back who I thought had a blinder of a game. He got in behind Villa’s defence time and time again and the raw power and pace he has will be a massive asset for us this season if Tierney has any prolonged time out. 

The defence in general were pretty solid and although Villa scored, it was a bit of a wonder strike, so sometimes you have to take your hat off to the player that delivers it. Thankfully it was just a consolation goal because before that we had Smith Rowe – hands down the best player on the pitch last night – take his chance (with a bit of fortune) to put us three goals ahead and even though there were a few nervous minutes after Villa scored, by and large we were the better side and were comfortable for most of the night.

Perhaps much like we shouldn’t get too carried away with a poor performance away to Brighton and then at home to Palace, we shouldn’t get too carried away with last night’s win. We saw how the Tottenham game was followed up by two lacklustre team performances and next weekend we go away to Leicester, which will be very difficult as I think they’re just starting to find form. But despite our dodgy start to the season, despite our trip  ups in the previous two games, we sit a point off fourth and without defeat in seven. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve said – and heard – of the importance of momentum in elite sport like the Premier League. I don’t know if you can call our current streak that, but it feels like it could get to that if we continue to put in some good performances like last night.

We can all enjoy our Saturday and Sunday now. Hope you have a good one.

Catch you all tomorrow.