On evenings like this, Arsenal are wonderful to behold. And if the manager were not 67, you would be tempted to say a new era was dawning and a fresh assault on the Premier League might be building.
Aaron Ramsey scored a hat-trick yet could easily have been challenged for man of the match by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was outstanding.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang scored on his debut – an offside goal, admittedly, but it stood – with the most-impudent finish.
And Mesut Ozil was revived and refreshed by his new team-mates, impishly evading Everton and dictating affairs.
At times it looked like the Arsenal of old, like those wonderful teams Arsene Wenger coaxed into existence in his first ten years in this country.
And maybe a change has come. Maybe those more experienced players of proven quality will bring the fortitude so often missing from the last ten years of Wenger’s reign.
Wiser heads though will reserve judgement for now. There is a reason why this team are sixth. Everyone knows they have these performances in them. They’ve done it before and not just two weeks ago against Crystal Palace. They’ve done it this season against Tottenham at home or last season against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, Manchester City in the semi final, or Chelsea again at The Emirates in the Premier League. But they have also been responsible for the performances at Swansea, Bournemouth, Watford and Stoke and fallen apart against Liverpool.
No one doubts their talent; it is their temperament which in question and which Aubamayang and Mkhitaryan have been bought to improve. Still, their debutants had as gentle an introduction to The Emirates imaginable. Everton were awful. Having done the mid-season revival sparked by the genius new manager and scrambled clear of the dogfight, they seem content to revert to form which got the previous manager the sack. That’s five defeats in seven games and they should be grateful for the mediocrity below them.
Everyone knows what Arsenal’s fallibilities are on foggy nights in Swansea. It didn’t take the arrival of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan to convince us that, when they put their mind to it, they can be quite ruthless. That, in itself, is not the problem. The issue is that they choose not to play like this so often.
Three minutes passed and Mkhitaryan shot just wide and then Aubamyang scuffed a chance but no matter: on 15 minutes Ozil’s corner was flicked on by Shkodran Mustafi and his header in turn was met by the diving head of Laurent Koscielny to score, with Aubamayang lurking cautiously behind the Frenchman, seemingly unsure whether it would be rude to steal the chance off his captain.
Alex Iwobi and Ozil, with work down the left, carved out the third. The space afforded Ramsey to tee up his strike from 20-yards out will not be an easy watch for Everton players in their video analysis on Monday morning. His shot hit Mangala and deflected past Jordan Pickford.
Before for the fourth, Everton did actually venture out of their half. It was the returning Theo Walcott who dared do so, out-running his former team-mates, turning inside Nacho Monreal, and shooting only to see his moment ruined by Mustafi’s diving tackle deflecting the striker wide.
All that really remained to make it the perfect half was a goal for the £55m record signing to score. He fluffed the first great chance on 32 minutes, when his swift counter attack and strike was repelled by Pickford.
That only made the poise and confidence of his finish on 37 minutes all the more admirable. It was, however, a good half yard offside, something assistant ref Con Hatzidakis somehow missed. Still, that aside, he announced himself in some style
They did however restore their advantage on 74 minutes. Everton woefully failed to clear the ball out wide and Mkhitaryan pounced, cross and – yet again – Ramsey was on hand to stroke the ball in and complete his first hat-trick for the club to make it 5-1.
Allardyce had an evening to forget at the Emirates as he watched his side fall to a heavy defeat in the Premier League.
Having been so abject in the first half, Everton opted to make a fight of the second period. Tom Davies replaced Michael Keane and they looked much more at home with a back four. They even hit a post on 52 minutes, Walcott’s cross being met by Oumar Niasse, who slid in bravely under threat from Cech only to see the woodwork save Arsenal.
However, Arsenal had slackened off, as they did having beaten Crystal Palace in twenty two minutes last month. And Everton took advantage with Davies finding Yannick Bolasie, who broke down the left and lifted in a cross which was met superbly by another substitute, Dominic Calvert-Lewin. It didn’t spark trepidation at The Emirates nor a great revival. It was perhaps an unwelcome reminder though that Arsenal’s potential failings.