When a poorly-run club spends over $100 million to bring in two new players and keep another around, expectations come with timeframes. There is pressure to make an immediate impact.
And there is no better way to alleviate that pressure than to, well, make an immediate impact.
That’s what Arsenal’s three newest signings did on Saturday. Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan combined to set up Aaron Ramsey for a goal six minutes into what would eventually become a 5-1 victory over Everton:
The goal set the Gunners on their way to a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes. Ozil, who signed a lucrative long-term contract extension on Wednesday, played into the feet of Aubameyang. Aubameyang, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund the same day, picked out a one-touch pass to Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan, who replaced Alexis Sanchez in a straight player-for-player swap, pinged a low ball across the six-yard box, where Ramsey finished off the move.
Ramsey would go on to bag a hat trick. But equally impressive was Mkhitaryan’s hat trick of assists. He set up the Welshman’s first and third, as well as Aubameyang’s
That’s right, the most expensive player in club history got off the mark on his debut. He should have been flagged offside, but we’ll ignore that small detail for a second. The former Dortmund striker took a through-ball from Mkhitaryan, his former Dortmund teammate, and dinked it over Everton keeper Jordan Pickford.
It was 4-0 at halftime. It could have been five or six. And, at least for the moment, all was well at Arsenal.
Everton’s second-half defending was similarly shocking. Sam Allardyce got his team selection all wrong, but his players certainly didn’t help him out. They seemed quite content to let Arsenal stream forward in numbers. They pulled a goal back after surviving the continued Gunners’ onslaught, but left Ramsey alone 10 minutes later.
There will be more trying times ahead for Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang in London. Arsenal is still a heavy underdog in the top-four race. It’s problems in midfield and at the back will be more apparent against more coherent and competent opposition.
But there won’t be many better debuts for expensive attacking trios than this one. The Gunners have a big month ahead of them. Saturday night provided the ideal start.
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