Six goals from six different players at Ashburton Grove on Sunday was the product of a sensational attacking performance by the Gunners as they thrashed Blackburn and signed off for the international break on a high. Any complaints about the Arsenal defending - which was well below par - were completely drowned out by the symphony of goals at the other end.
Despite Blackburn taking the lead twice in the first half, Arsenal had plenty in the tank by way of response. Their approach play and finishing was simply breathtaking at times and the performance - at least from an offensive perspective - was an appropriate one to mark a week that saw Arsene Wenger become the longest-serving manager in the club’s history after his 13 years in charge.
Many column inches have been devoted to the man over the past week. He has not only been praised for his contribution to Arsenal but also to English football as a whole and all the accolades are well-deserved. It would not be a disservice to the memory of Herbert Chapman to refer to Wenger has the "Chapman of the modern era". Chapman was the manager to establish the Gunners as a footballing force and made them the best-supported club in the country back in the late-20s and early-30s. When one sits back to consider the history of the club it is impossible not to draw comparisons between the two men and the respective impacts they have made.
Chapman was a man of vision, drive and unshakeable ambition who took over at the helm at a time when the club had lofty aspirations which were not being translated into results on the pitch. By the time of his sudden and unexpected death from pneumonia in 1934 Arsenal had won the League and the FA Cup for the first time. Chapman also had also put white sleeves on the red shirts to create an identity for the club recognised the world over. He was also the prime mover behind many innovations that we take for granted today - numbers on shirts and floodlit football to name but two. Most importantly, Chapman had turned the club into a giant and laid the foundations for the years of dominance that followed.
In his 13 years, Arsene Wenger has also transformed Arsenal Football Club both on and off the pitch and his influence on the league as a whole cannot be underestimated. Since 1996, the club has enjoyed an unparalleled period of success. He has taken the club into a new era and played an instrumental role in the building of a new stadium and training facilities. The club has the infrastructure in place to retain its status as one of Europe’s biggest clubs for years to come. He has revolutionised training methods and insisted that football be played in an entertaining way. This is some feat bearing in mind the pressures and expectations the modern media (and fans) place on managers and players to deliver trophies year after year. Amid all the hype, Wenger has never forgotten that it is a beautiful game and it should be played for the enjoyment of spectators. Arsene Wenger joins Herbert Chapman in the Arsenal pantheon as one of the true architects of the club and an indisputable legend.
We now enter yet another terminally boring international break and have to wait until 17th October to face Birmingham City at Ashburton Grove. It is fair to say that in the "club versus country" debate my stance on international football lies somewhere between "couldn’t care less" and "completely disinterested". It is nothing more than an annoying interruption to the far more enjoyable and obsessive day-to-day, match-to-match journey that we go on whilst following Arsenal. It also does not compute that for maybe a dozen days a year I suddenly have to think that Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and John Terry have miraculously turned into "the good guys" just because I happen to have been born on the same land mass as them.
Anyway, as always, we hope that our players come back from their respective postings uninjured and ready to pick up where they left off when the real business starts again in a fortnight.