Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0
FROM all the positives for Arsene Wenger on Saturday, the best news came at about 7.30pm from the club doctor at the Emirates Stadium. Robin van Persie s scan results from his ankle x-ray had come back with no sign of damage, and the Dutch striker was fre
FROM all the positives for Arsene Wenger on Saturday, the best news came at about 7.30pm from the club doctor at the Emirates Stadium.
Robin van Persie's scan results from his ankle x-ray had come back with no sign of damage, and the Dutch striker was free to join up with Holland for international duty.
While Arsene Wenger won't be too delighted with the fact that Van Persie will travel to Macedonia next week, the look of worry on his face when the 25-year-old limped off on Saturday was plain for all to see.
This game was a microcosm of Van Persie's last two seasons at Arsenal - flashes of brilliance, two smartly-taken goals, but yet again that evidence of a fragile body that has so far failed to withstand the rigours of playing regular football.
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He proved far too elusive for Newcastle's much-vaunted new Argentine defender Fabio Coloccini, and would probably have scored his first hat-trick for the club had he not departed after just 63 minutes.
This time, however, there is no damage done, and Van Persie should be back to lead the attack at Blackburn when the Premier League resumes after the international break.
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"He [Van Persie] can be that link between midfield and the strikers, and it is the way we want to play," said a contented Wenger afterwards.
"I think you could see he was in shape and when he is like that he is a very important player for us."
Important, maybe even crucial. Without the injured Eduardo, Arsenal really only have Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott as back-up to the leading duo of Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor, and Wenger feels Walcott is not ready to play as a central striker.
Not that Wenger was worrying too much about goals in a week which had seen his side score seven of them without reply to completely flush the Fulham defeat out of their system.
"I believe that the improvement comes from a completely different attitude," added the Gunners boss.
"We have shown that against FC Twente and we have shown it again here. Fulham was the start of the season with tough games before it. After the players went away it was some players' fourth game in 10 days and we were not ready mentally at Craven Cottage."
These back-to-back Emirates wins saw Arsenal emerge from a testing opening to the season just one point off the pace in the fledgling Premier League table, and safely through to the group stages of the Champions League for the 11th season in succession.
Added to that, Wenger's major summer acquisition, Samir Nasri, seems to have adapted almost instantly to Wenger's Arsenal style, while four clean sheets from five games hints at a recovery from the defensive malaise at the end of last season.
The big problem now for Wenger is that he will lose 95 per cent of his squad to World Cup qualifying games that will literally see them jet off to all sides of the globe.
Among the more ridiculous journeys over the next seven days will see Alex Song head to the Cape Verde Islands with Cameroon, while Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue have a nice game in Mozambique to look forward to, and Adebayor is off to Zambia.
Carlos Vela will head to Jamaica and Mexico and is all but ruled out of the trip to Balckburn on September 13, the first of a tough-looking trio of away games that then heads to Kiev in the Champions League and ends at Wenger's nemesis, Bolton.
"It is frustrating for all the managers," said Wenger of the break for international games that will almost certainly result in some of his players coming back injured.
"The difference is maybe when you are involved in the Champions League [because] there is no time to regroup when players are playing far away. When they come back we go away [to Blackburn]."
All Wenger can do is sit at London Colney and wait, but he will do so with the knowledge that on Saturday Arsenal were back to their fluent, irrepressible best.
After another summer of more big names going out than coming in, the Gunners boss, as usual, is letting the football do the talking.