Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger maintains none of his players will get carried away despite continuing their impressive start to the new season with a 6-0 thrashing of Champions League new-boys Braga at Emirates Stadium.
Captain Cesc Fabregas – now looking back to his best after the World Cup and a summer of transfer speculation linking him with Barcelona – and substitute Carlos Vela netted a brace as Arsenal, who had chalked up 1,000 Premier League goals under Wenger in the 4-1 home rout of Bolton on Saturday, got their European campaign off to a flying start.
With three wins from four games and just two points behind leaders Chelsea, there is a growing feeling this could be the season Wenger’s young Gunners finally come of age.
However, the experienced Frenchman knows there are plenty of challenges ahead, starting up at Sunderland on Saturday evening.
“It is the start of the season and I think it is important that we take encouragement from what we are doing at the moment,” Wenger said.
“We will keep our feet on the ground and a good concentration.
“We have another big test now at Sunderland on Saturday.”
Wenger continued: “We have a big potential, but I have always believed in this team. I have a problem to convince you.
“They are now 22 or 23 and continue to grow, that is normal, but it is sometimes difficult for others to accept. For me, what they did at 20 was exceptional.”
Fabregas opened the scoring with a penalty and then headed in a second, with only some desperate defending denying him a hat-trick.
“Cesc has taken another dimension,” Wenger continued.
“People forget he is 23, where other players start.
“Cesc has a fantastic influence. What is important is that he leads the team to winning.
“What I like is he gave the ball to Carlos Vela when he could have tried to score a third himself – that reflects the way we want to play the game and on a leader who does what the game wants, not being selfish.
“He arrived here at the age of 16 and enjoys the way we play. What more do you want to be happy?
“It wasn’t easy for him in the summer, he was under a lot of pressure of course, but I never had any doubt he loves the club and he wants to do well for us.”
A quickfire double from Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh made it 3-0 by half-time.
Wenger said: “We played the game we wanted to play, at a high pace and with top technical quality, a creative attitude, good concentration and a good collective spirit.
“It is the philosophy of our game and we managed to express that.”
Braga manager Domingos Paciencia admitted things had not gone to plan in their first taste of top-flight European football.
“We were nervous and gave Arsenal too much space. However, we are not as bad as we were this evening,” he said.
“Braga are taking our first steps in this competition. We have to keep going forwards, take this an experience and not repeat it.”