Arsenal recorded their best win over Chelsea since their very first meeting under Arsenal Wenger in 1997 — a stirring way to mark the manager’s 20-year anniversary.
Goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil made it a rout before half-time and Arsenal looked entirely comfortable after having torn apart their London rivals with rare ease.
A fifth win in six games in all competitions, and an emphatic one over Chelsea at that, means a happy anniversary for Wenger.
The first half was the best 45 minutes of football since Arsenal opened up a 3-0 lead at home to Manchester United in October last year, and possibly better. Some of Arsenal’s attacking play was irresistible but just as impressively, they also restricted Chelsea to no more than a handful of chances and their first real shot on target came on 84 minutes.
None whatsoever in terms of the performance but losing Francis Coquelin to injury was clearly concerning. He has impressed this season and Arsenal will hope he is not out for a prolonged spell with the knee injury he sustained after 32 minutes.
Manager rating out of 10
10 — “It is one of those moments in your life when you think: ‘Today is a great day,'” the manager said. There have been too few of them in recent years but this was a Saturday when Wenger got everything right — even if he was aided hugely by Chelsea’s defensive ineptitude.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 6 — Only had one real moment of danger when David Luiz’s fine ball played Michy Batshuayi in one-on-one but he saved expertly with his legs. An uneventful evening against his former employers.
DF Hector Bellerin, 8 — The Spaniard always enjoys supporting the attack and he contributed the assist for Walcott’s goal with a perfect cross following Iwobi’s sliding pass. Made another decisive contribution at the other end with his magnificent Usain Bolt-esque sprint and recovery tackle to deny Pedro late on.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 8 — Arsenal have won every Premier League match the £35 million man has played in and his impressive adjustment continued with a performance of real poise. Mustafi is a class act with the ball at his feet but he also mucked in alongside Laurent Koscielny to keep Chelsea at bay.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 8 — His personal duel with Diego Costa looked to be one of the most decisive before kick-off but it wasn’t even close. Koscielny brought all his excellence and experience to bear in a dominant display at centre-back.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 — Iwobi’s adventures left Monreal exposed but he had the nerve to deal with whatever Chelsea threw at him. With 95 percent completed, he had the best passing stats of any Arsenal player.
MF Francis Coquelin, 7 — Justified his inclusion ahead of Xhaka with a purposeful performance that was cruelly cut short due to injury when he twisted his knee in a typically enthusiastic challenge on N’Golo Kante.
MF Santi Cazorla, 8 — It takes a lot to bypass the omnipresent Kante in midfield but Cazorla managed it. He was the conduit for Arsenal’s attacks and completed 88 percent of his passes as he guided his team through midfield and into the final third. Tested Thibaut Courtois with the first good shot of the game.
MF Mesut Ozil, 9 — Ozil in his pomp is a wonderful sight and the German exuded pure enjoyment as he masterminded this rout of Chelsea. Elusive and impudent, he toyed with the visitors at times and as well as volleying home from Sanchez’s cross for the third goal, he also started the move with a magnificent use of his body to turn away from Kante. Exchanged passes with Iwobi in the build-up for the second too.
MF Alex Iwobi, 9 — Was named man of the match by British broadcasters after a signature performance. There was no goal or assist, but it was Iwobi’s gorgeous pass that played in Bellerin for Walcott’s goal and he impressed throughout with his use of the ball and his fearless attacking. One exhibition of close control in a tight corner drew appreciative gasps and he had Branislav Ivanovic on toast. He is a special talent.
MF Theo Walcott, 8 — Continues to have an impressive season on the right of the attack and Walcott slotted home from close range for the second goal. This being Walcott, there will always be moments of frustration such as his overshot cross to Sanchez that wasted a great opportunity on the break in the second half, but this was an evening to fortify his hard-won status.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 9 — Surely his best performance as a lone striker. The Chilean hasn’t always looked comfortable in the role but he pounced ruthlessly on an error from Gary Cahill to dink home a superb opening goal and it was his pass for Ozil that set up the third. A devastating contribution.
MF Granit Xhaka, 7 — Despite being implored to “shoooooot” by the crowd every time he touched the ball after replacing Coquelin, there was no long-range strike for the third game in succession. Instead Xhaka quietly built a case for his inclusion from the start with some tenacious tackles and his considered use of the ball.
MF Kieran Gibbs, 7 — Came on for Iwobi after 69 minutes to ensure there was to be no late drama and he played his part in keeping the clean sheet when preventing Costa from getting to a cross at the back post.
FW Olivier Giroud, N/R — Came on for Sanchez with 11 minutes remaining and his role won’t be changing any time soon.
Tom is one of ESPN FC’s Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport