Arsenal’s six appeal gives Wenger plenty to brag about
PUBLISHED: 16:25 17 September 2010 | UPDATED: 19:01 18 September 2010
ARSENE Wenger believes Arsenal will take some stopping both at home and in Europe if they can maintain the kind of form that saw them demolish Braga 6-0 in the Champions League Group H opener at the Emirates.
The Gunners were in blistering form, with skipper Cesc Fabregas scoring twice, and strikers Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh also on target before Mexican substitute Carlos Vela added a late brace.
That made it 16 goals in just three home games so far this season, and Wenger acknowledged that his unbeaten side have started the campaign in irresistible form.
“We believe when we play like that it will be very hard to stop us,” said Wenger after his side had hit six goals for the second time this season.
“I believe people who like football will have enjoyed the game because we played exceptionally well. The key now is to balance the competitions, that means we will rotate from game to game.”
Wenger reserved special praise for his captain Fabregas, who took the responsibility to fire the Gunners in front from the penalty spot after Chamakh had been fouled by Braga keeper Felipe.
The Spaniard then set up the second for Arshavin, and scored the fourth with a header from an Arshavin cross before being denied a first hat-trick for the club by an acrobatic goal-line clearance.
“He has taken on another dimension,” admitted Wenger. “People forget that he is 23 years old, which is when other people start. He is a fantastic influence and it is important that he leads this team to winning.
“He loves this club. People doubted that but I never doubted that. He arrived here at the age of 16 and he enjoys the way we play and what more do you want than to be happy?
“I believe it is a fantastic opportunity for the young players who play alongside him to improve as well. If you are 18 years old like [Jack] Wilshere and you see Fabregas who is 23, it is a big opportunity to learn a lot.”
It was Wilshere who provided arguably the classiest moment of a sumptuous display when he backheeled a pass for Chamakh to convert the third goal with half-time still not in sight for the bewildered Portuguese side.
Braga had arrived with a reputation as dangerous dark horses in the group having knocked out Spanish outfit Sevilla and also thrashed Celtic in qualifying.
But they were exposed as novices at this level by a rampant Arsenal side that made light of the raft of injuries which saw them start without the likes of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby.
With the game won in the second half and Saturday’s trip to Sunderland in mind, Wenger gave some much needed rest to Chamakh, Arshavin and defensive midfield lynchpin Alex Song, but it did little to alter the flow.
Vela has made a habit of scoring eye-catching goals when coming off the bench, not least against Bolton last weekend, and he helped himself to two more with one trademark dinked finish over Felipe and then a simple low drive to climax another passing move instigated by Fabregas.
Such nights have been witnessed many times before at the Emirates, and yet no trophies have yet arrived at Arsenal’s home entering its fifth season.
This year, however, Wenger is convinced that will change as he seeks an end to the trophy drought that stretches back to 2005.
“I am convinced, yes. I have problems convincing you but that is normal!” joked the Frenchman. “It is the start of the season and I think it is important that we take encouragement from what we are doing at the moment and we keep our feet on the ground and a good concentration.
“You watched the game and you don’t need replays to see that we can be very creative, be dangerous, score goals. You see the pace we can play at and the number of chances we can create. This team knocked Sevilla out, they’re a good side, Braga.
“We have a big potential but what you forget is that I always believed in this team and what this team has done at the age of 20, 21. They are now 22, 23 and they continue to grow and sometimes it is difficult to accept [not winning trophies] but what they did at 20 was, for me, exceptional.”
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