Seriously, what can you say about that?
Slavia Prague had beat Steaua Bucharest 2-1 on Matchday One, and althought they lost in their next game they still managed to score twice away at Sevilla which is no mean feat.
But none of that helped them yesterday.
Arsenal had a changed side from the weekend, the most notable being Theo Walcott being named in the starting eleven. When the line-ups were being announced, you assumed Hleb would play behind Adebayor and that Theo would play on the left.
But Arsene started with the young gun up top.
And now we know why.
It was only the second game Walcott had actually started up front for Arsenal, the last being the Carling Cup Final last season – in which he scored the opening goal.
But right from the start Arsenal were dominant.
And after only 5 minutes, who else but Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring with a wonderful curling shot after smart work from Hleb in the corner. Fabregas cut inside his man, received the ball and flashed his shot inside the post.
Arsenal were crusing and knocked the ball around well, and while Slavia popped the ball around nicely as well they were restricted to long range efforts from distance and hardly trouble Almunia.
Then on 25 Arsenal’s second goal came. A corner from Fabregas was missed at the near post by Walcott and the ball found its way to Hleb who’s shot deflected in off a Prague defender. You could say that Hleb’s shot was on target when it left his foot although some would say it’s an own goal. But what wasn’t in doubt was that Arsenal were 2-0 up.
Just before half time, Walcott scored his second goal in an Arsenal shirt when the Slavia Prague goalkeeper badly mis-controlled a pass from his left-back. Theo calmly rounded the keeper and steered his shot into the net. Arsenal were 3-0 up at the break.
Arsenal were in cruise control.
If people thought Arsenal would drop down to 1st gear after the interval they were badly mistaken. In the first 15 minutes of the second half Arsenal were ruthless, hungry and seemed to have something to prove. Hleb’s ability to hold onto the ball and make space in tight situations paid off as he managed to smash a shot low into the bottom corner.
Theo Walcott added a 5th goal 3 minutes later when he latched onto Hleb’s incisive through-ball. Theo’s frightening pace and control saw him beyond a couple of defenders and he coolly slot his shot into the bottom corner with the outside of right boot.
And when you thought Arsenal were finished we were on the attack yet again when Theo’s beautifully weighted pass let in Fabregas, who was never going to miss. 6 nil to Arsenal and doubles for Theo, Cesc and Hleb (possibly).
Absolutely stunning football.
At that point, Arsene clearly pleased with an hours work, ushered Gilberto, Bendtner and Rosicky into the action. With the big games coming up against Liverpool and Manchester United I though Cesc would be replaced but in the end Gilberto came on for Mathieu Flamini. Bendtner and Rosicky then replaced Adebayor and Hleb.
As expected, the 3 changes disturbed the flow slighty although Theo had a couple of decent chances to complete his hattrick. Arsenal did manage another goal with 2 minutes remaining when Bendtner used his strength to barge through the Slavia defence.
The BBC called the performance “magical”, UEFA thought it was a “masterful display of slick, passing football” and Sky Sports even compared the current crop of Arsenal youngsters with the 1970 Brazilian luminaries!
See the player ratings below:
Manuel Almunia: 7/10
Only had a couple of saves to make in the entire game and did well to parry them away to safety. Also dealt well with a few crosses that came into the box. Never look troubled.
Bacary Sagna: 7/10
Not as effective going forward as usual but mainly down to the running of Eboue on the right. Defended well and kept a good line with the rest of the defence.
William Gallas: 7/10
Never troubled and defended well alongside Kolo.
Kolo Toure: 7/10
Like the rest of the defence had a pretty routine evening, and always looked comfortable.
Gael Clichy: 8/10
Another solid performance from Clichy. Worked well with Hleb on the left and as ever always making those supporting runs on the outside. Delivered some excellent crosses into the box.
Emmanuel Eboue: 8/10
Full of running and looked comfortable on the right wing. Made some incisive passes in the final third and linked up well with Sagna defensively.
Mathieu Flamini: 7/10
Booked early on for a rash challenge but was yet again solid and let Fabregas do his thing. Replaced by Gilberto Silva on the hour.
Cesc Fabregas: 9/10 (Man of the Match)
Exceptional, yet again. Scored the first, made the second, and scored the sixth. Passing was stunning, movement was excellent and he scored two wonderfully crafted goals.
Alexander Hleb: 8/10
Played out of position on the left but again showed brilliant ball retention. Setup Fabregas and Walcott for goals and scored twice himself. Replaced by Tomas after 60 minutes.
Emmanuel Adebayor: 6/10
Never really looked to be in sync with the team. Got frustrated with some close offside calls and missed a decent chance with a header when Walcott sent over a beautiful cross. Replaced by Bendtner on 60.
Theo Walcott: 9/10
Was a big night for the little man and boy did he enjoy it! Was cool in scoring his first and ruthless in scoring his second. Setup up Fab for Arsenal’s 6th and looked dangerous all night. Unlucky not to end the game with his hattrick.
Substitutes (60 minutes)
Gilberto Silva: 8/10
Showed flashes of skill when he came on.
Tomas Rosicky: 7/10
Nicklas Bendtner: 8/10
Did well and deserved his goal.