Aaron Ramsey scored another superb goal as Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 to move five points clear at the top of the table.
All of the pre-match hype had been about what impact Reds forward Luis Suarez would have against the club which tried to sign the Uruguay forward for £40,000,001 in the summer.
However, Arsenal answered the critics who had questioned their character for a sustained title bid following successive home defeats by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and after crashing out of the Capital One Cup against Chelsea on Tuesday.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed his side for a “convincing” win but refused to get carried away with the Gunners’ fine start to the Barclays Premier League season after seeing them extend their lead at the summit.
A fine finish from Santi Cazorla put Arsenal ahead in the first half and midfielder Ramsey continued his prolific goalscoring form as Wenger’s men won the top-of-the -table clash.
“It was a convincing win against a good team, and that’s what we wanted. Of course everybody was waiting to see how we responded today, and we did that in a very positive manner,” he said.
“We got a good goal and, after that, I felt we had many opportunities to make the difference and then Ramsey scored a stunning goal, but we had chances before and after. But overall what you want is good focus, great dynamic in the team and overall it was a very convincing performance.”
The win saw Arsenal move five points clear at the top of the table, above nearest challengers Liverpool and Chelsea, who lost 2-0 to Newcastle in the early kick-off.
Wenger admits that scenario is good for morale in the team and among supporters, but pointed out it is still early days.
“It’s positive and nice but of course it’s very early in the season,” he said. “It’s good for the confidence of the team and for the ambition as well. Hopefully it gets everybody around the team to support us.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had few complaints about the result after seeing his side suffer only their second defeat of the season.
“I thought the best team won. Their mobility and passing was better than ours and we could’ve done better with the two goals,” said Rodgers, who nevertheless praised his side for their fighting spirit.
“We kept going all night, the players have been brilliant in their application. They went right to the end. We created chances, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”
Despite the loss, Liverpool can still reflect on a fine start to the season and Rodgers said: “I said that after ten games it’s a good analysis, you can look at the league and see where you’re at. I think what we can see is my players have been brilliant in this opening period, we’re gonna be in with a shout.”
Arsenal swept into the lead on 19 minutes when a quick break down the right found Bacary Sagna on the overlap. His cross was behind Olivier Giroud, but fell perfectly for Cazorla on the penalty spot. The Spaniard’s bullet header cannoned back off the post but he was first to the rebound and lashed a fine half-volley back past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
The second goal came on 59 minutes when Mesut Ozil fed Ramsey 20 yards out and he waited for the bouncing ball to sit up before dispatching a dipping volley over Mignolet.