LONDON: A new dawn or another false dawn? Arsenal raised both hopes and fears with the manner of a 5-1 thrashing of awful Everton in which star roles were played by new signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who provided three assists, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who celebrated a debut goal. It could have been more: Nacho Monreal headed against the posts.
Mesut Ozil, who has agreed a £350,000-a-week contract extension, was also outstanding in a victory which eased the pressure – for at least a week – on manager Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners were as outstanding as Everton were poor in the first half. Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal the lead on a Mkhitaryan assist then Laurent Koscielny bundled home a second after Shkodran Mustafi headed on a corner from Ozil.
Ramsey’s deflected strike, following another move inspied by Ozil, ended the game as a contest inside the opening 20 minutes. Aubameyang scored Arsenal’s fourth just before the break though television replays showed he was clearly offside.
Everton improved in the second half and deserved their consolation goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin before Mkhitaryan provided Ramsey with the Welshman’s hat-trick goal.
Arsenal’s new look could be bad news for Alexandre Lacazette, Wenger’s record signing before Aubameyang’s £56m arrival but now displaced in the pecking order.
Wenger was full of praise for Aubameyang, saying: “Once he is in front it is very difficult to catch him and he is always looking to move into spaces that are very difficult for defenders to cover. I like the quality of his movement.
“We are a very offensive team and want to play that kind of football but we have to find the balance between attacking and defending. That will be a challenge for the end of the season.”
Everton manager Sam Allardyce felt the opposite emotions, saying after the match: “I was angry during the game and I’m still very angry. The whole team played rubbish.”
Certainly there are more difficult tests ahead for Wenger’s new-look team, notably at Wembley against Tottenham in the north London derby next Saturday. Even at 4-0 up his defence looked vulnerable against the raids led by ex-Arsenal winger Theo Walcott.
Alexis Sanchez scored his first Manchester United goal in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield at Old Trafford which pushed the Terriers deeper into relegation zone trouble.
Romelu Lukaku made the breakthrough on 55 minutes with a close-range finish before Sanchez – who joined the Red Devils from Arsenal ahead of the transfer deadline in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan – doubled the lead on 68 minutes.
The Chile forward saw his penalty saved by Jonas Lossl but was alert to knock in the rebound.
In Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, Manchester City pay a two-point price for not taking their chances at Burnley.
Defender Danilo gave Pep Guardiola’s side the lead with a fine 20-yard effort on 22 minutes. Raheem Sterling, though, missed from close range and Burnley responded to secure a point when Johann Berg Gudmundsson equalised with eight minutes left.
Southampton dragged themselves out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 win at bottom club West Bromwich Albion.
Ahmed Hegazi headed West Brom into the lead following a corner after just four minutes. The Saints were level on 40 minutes through a 20-yard strike from Mario Lemina and went in front just before half-time when Jack Stephens headed in.
James Ward-Prowse added a third on 55 minutes with a curling free-kick and Salomon Rondon’s goal was mere consolation.
Brighton boosted their hopes of staying clear of the relegation scrap with a 3-1 home win over West Ham.
Glenn Murray put the hosts ahead on eight minutes but the Hammers were level on the half-hour through a well-taken goal by Mexico forward Javier Hernandez.
Winger Jose Izquierdo lashed in a superb angled strike on 61 minutes to put Brighton back in front, with Pascal Gross drilling home a third after 75 minutes.
Bournemouth continued their good form with a couple of late goals to beat Stoke 2-1 at home.
The Cherries, who won 3-0 at Chelsea in midweek, had to come from behind after Stoke took the lead after just five minutes through Xherdan Shaqiri’s header.
With 20 minutes left, Joshua King equalised, and on 79 minutes substitute Lys Mousset headed in Jordon Ibe’s free-kick at the back post to secure all three points.
Leicester and Swansea drew 1-1 at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes were again without forward Riyad Mahrez, who had missed training in the wake of a deadline-day move to Manchester City falling through.
Jamie Vardy gave Leicester the lead on 17 minutes and Swansea lost midifleder Leroy Fer to what looked a serious ankle injury after 34 minutes.
But the visitors, who had beaten both Liverpool and Arsenal to boost their survival hopes, equalised on 53 minutes through Federico Fernandez’s header.