Gunners put in purr-fect performance

Lots of purring in the papers this morning after the glorious Gunners hammered AZ Alkmaar 4-1 with some exquisite football to take us to the brink of the last 16 in the Champions League.

In the Sun this morning, Arsene Wenger says he has his best-ever strike force. He said: “We’ve never had as many options on the creative side. We still have Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott who are offensive players who are not available.

“Denilson, Eduardo, Tomas Rosicky did not start – that is why I was amazed when people said, ‘Buy, buy, buy’. And Carlos Vela as well… I forgot him!”

Cesc Fabregas netted twice with Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby rounding off the rout before Jeremain Lens grabbed a late consolation, the paper reminds us.

The boss was fulsome in his praise for the contribution from Andrey Arshavin, and he told the Daily Mail: ‘Arshavin was outstanding. He gave the ball every time the fraction of the second you wanted him to give it and that is top quality. We have only players here who can play and pass the ball and score — not only goalscorers but also decisive passers of the ball, and he (Arshavin) has shown that.’

The Times makes note of the Russian’s display and continues that he is the one influential attacking player Wenger has signed in the past 18 months who could take Arsenal over the finishing line, however, as Arshavin was again a class apart, outshining even the outstanding Fàbregas. The forward’s energetic running and inch-perfect passing created three further goals after Fàbregas had scored the opener.

Meanwhile, it is left to the Mirror to report AZ coach Ronald Koeman’s views after the match. He said: “Fabregas is one of the best midfielders. He is incredibly good and a very important player for them. If you still have Eduardo and Rosicky on the bench, that says enough.”

The Gunners would now need to lose at home to Standard Liege and then away to Olympiacos to fail to reach the knockout stages, adds the paper.

Fabregas, who has now scored eight goals this season, said: “It is not definite so we’ll have to keep working until the end. “Even if we had qualified today we would have wanted to win and have gone for the six remaining points. That is our mentality.”

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