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HECTOR BELLERIN described the new look Arsenal as “electric” after they lit up the Emirates on the home debuts for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Although Aaron Ramsey stole the headlines with a hat-trick, the latter made three assists while the former opened his Arsenal account with a composed dink over Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
He might even have scored as early as the 14th minute if Laurent Koscielny had not stolen in front of him to head Arsenal’s second of the day, in a rout that rendered Dom Calvert-Lewin’s eighth goal of the season as nothing more than a consolation.
Full-back Bellerin said: “When you play in a game like this and you see the players we have up front and the players on the bench who can come on, you’re thinking of the creativity and the electricity they bring into the team. It is something very rare to find in any other team.”
Arsene Wenger’s biggest problem is ensuring that “electricity” does not just turn itself off again.
The Gunners had a similar home win against Crystal Palace a week earlier only to capitulate 3-1 in Swansea. Now they head to Wembley to face their north London rivals Tottenham sweeping all before them at home but still with only one win on their travels in any competition since November.
Wenger is convinced at least that Mkhitaryan, who was the cog alongside Mesut Ozil who made Arsenal tick on Saturday, is not nearly that flaky.
“The only thing I know, I met Mkhitaryan before he came here, because I liked always his game,” said Wenger. “He’s a player completely focused on football, dedicated totally to the game and comes from a country in Armenia where you need special character to become a great football player.
“So you have to really to love the game and that’s why he looks happy to play football because he just loves it.”
Everton manager Sam Allardyce was rather less convinced about the character of his own players and did not mind letting them know so via the press conference afterwards.
But did they fully accept in the dressing room that they were “pathetic” and “c**p”? “Oh, I think they know that,” he said. “I don’t think they were that bad in the second half, to be fair, but it is too late. There are too many inconsistencies in our performance levels at the moment.”
New loan signing Eliaquim Mangala looked all at sea in the back five Allardyce initially deployed. “We trained a little bit together on Friday,” said Mangala. “We have the whole week to work all together now.
“This was just the first game, against a good team, away, and of course it was tough for the team but I’m sure we will improve our game and have some good results for the future.”
Perhaps the new system had been too much for his players to implement in too short a time. Had Allardyce made a mistake, as many Everton fans were not shy of suggesting both at the game and on social media? “You could say that,” said Allardyce. “I can take criticism – it is not a problem for me.
“But I would say this: as a man who tactically looks at every single area to play against the opposition, all those who said we should have played a back four, go and look at what Swansea did to Arsenal with a back five on Tuesday.
“It was the implementation. Systems will mean nothing if the players played c**p. And tactics mean nothing. They were very poor the lads, very poor.”
The short answer, clearly, is no.