By Avenell Dave
1. Thomas Vermaelen is a quality defender – with the exception of one header from Screech from Saved By the Bell aka Felliani, he was faultless and looked like he’d been playing with William Gallas for years
2. Denilson, the Premier League’s most successful passer last season, seems to have watched a few Xabi Alonso videos over the summer. Neat and tidy, he seems to have lost the fear that held him back last summer, keen to make forward passes rather than always giving the opposition time to re-organise. His performance was a revelation.
3. Cesc Fabregas revelled in the new formation, released from the constraints of last season and at the heart of much of Arsenal’s attacking play. I doubt many sides will give him as much freedom as Everton did on Saturday.
4. Alex Song may not be the greatest header of the ball when in midfield but he was tenacious and choked the life out of his opponents. How he would have fared with Mikel Arteta is another question and one we thankfully didn’t have to answer.
5. Scoring two goals from set plays and hit corners that beat the first man and actually caused trouble for the opposition suggests some productive work on the training ground. Better late than never.
6. The prospect of Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky, not to mention Carlos Vela, coming in to replace Andrey Arshavin and Nick Bendtner in the wide forward positions (freeing Arshavin and Bendtner to take a more central role) shows the total football potential that Arséne Wenger has preached for so long.
7. If Wenger can switch between this new 4-3-3/4-3-2-1/4-2-3-1 formation and a more conventional 4-4-2 when the need arises, it’s going to give him a Plan B which we have lacked on occasions in recent years.
8. The loss of Vermaelen, Gallas, Denilson or Song leaves us really short of cover. Johann Djourou, Mikael Silvestre, Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey or Manu Eboue don’t provide enough defensive/defensive midfield cover when injuries kick in.
9. Arsenal are absolutely a good weather team. Winning matches away at Stoke or Burnley on dark, wet and windy days in mid-season will be a much sterner test of whether ‘this team has matured’ as much as Le Boss says so.
10. The team spirit seems to be better than it was last season, as could be seen in the genuine delight the players took in celebrating all the goals together. Whether that's a direct result of the summer departures, or some bonding in pre-season is anyone's guess, but ahead of tomorrow night's crunch Champions League qualifier, it was a joy to see.