Smiles returned to Arsene Wenger’s face yesterday as his faith in Julio Baptista was vindicated by a stunning hattrick, in a thumping 4-0 win at Anfield.
The unerring nature of the Brazilian’s finishing epitomised the confidence he is playing with at the moment, looking lean and sharp, and taking the game to Liverpool. He will surely be signed on a permanent basis, with news that Real are ready to splash the cash to keep Reyes in Spain.
Behind him, the creative work was mainly done by the excellent Hleb, whose efficiency of passing was particularly impressive. On the one and only time he gave the ball away, he chased and hustled hard, winning it back immediately. His goal was superbly taken at the end, and well deserved after the peppering he had given the keeper throughout. It is clear to see why he is becoming such a fan favourite.
At the back, you could tell how much Arsenal had missed the strength of the first choice back four, as they looked organised and well marshalled, never letting the strikers get a sniff. Gallas was particularly solid, consistently showing Crouch to be poor in the air.
In other news, Neil Warnock praised the referee, Sam Allardyce decided his spat with the BBC was pathetic and called a truce, Ashley Cole’s first goal for Chelsea was applauded in North London, Mark Hughes claimed his side were lucky to get a penalty, and Alan Pardew celebrated Charlton’s late winner with a dance that didn’t make him look like a complete idiot.