Arsenal combine substance with style

Last updated : 07 September 2003 By Jason Hogan
Off to a flier!
Still, at least we Gooners can say that we are the only team to go into the enforced break with a perfect record of four wins from four matches.

The road to success in all of those matches was not always a smooth one. It took the dismissal of Sol Campbell to spark us into life before we saw off Everton.

Our win at the Riverside was far more comfortable and in the eyes of many observers our demolition of Boro was reminiscent of the victories we picked up at Leeds and Birmingham last season. I, for one, didn't have any argument with that.

The home game with Villa was a special one for me because for the first time in ages I was actually at Highbury to see it. I thought our victory on the night was definitely hard earned. Villa made life very awkward for us and I thought we were a little flattered by the 2-0 scoreline.

Having shown a touch of the sublime against Boro we certainly lurched towards the ridiculous on Sunday against City. The comical own goal Lauren scored only served to sum up what was an abysmal first half from the Gunners.

I was absolutely fuming at half time and I spent a good ten minutes ranting and raving like the proverbial lunatic. As things turned out I wasn't the only one.

Apparently Wenger wasn't entirely happy with what he had seen either and (according to Keown) he asked his team some searching questions at half time.
In truth, we did respond and we did end up turning the game around despite never, ever really getting out of second gear.

I think that the biggest plus for the Arsenal so far this season has been Kolo Toure. There was many a Gooner (me included) that felt he was capable of physically doing a job as a centre half but had doubts as to whether he was up to the job mentally.

Well, I thought that the lad was outstanding along with Campbell and Lehmann against Villa and I agreed totally with what Martin Keown who claimed, after Sunday's game with City, that young Kolo should have been awarded the man of the match award. Maybe, just maybe, Toure might finally make himself into a permanent fixture in the Arsenal side. Perhaps the true test for him will come if and when he is forced to line up alongside Pascal Cygan one day- now there's a thought!!!

Over all I have been pleased with the way we have started. Though we are very much in the early days of the title race it's great to be looking down on that lot from Old Trafford nonetheless.

At times over the last calendar year we have been applauded (and rightly so) for some sublime performances and we have also been accused of not adapting when the chips are down.

Whilst it's true to say that we have not exactly turned on the style too often as yet, we have shown that we are not lacking in tenacity or indeed substance. If we manage to maintain a happy medium between style and substance then, in terms of winning the title, the Gunners will have precious to worry about.