The danger after days like these is to overreact, or at least to overstate. But for Arsenal, so often these days a bargain-bin knockoff of their formerly invincible selves, this one could have hardly felt much sweeter.
The Gunners gutted West Ham United 5-1 on Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium in an English Premier League match that featured four Arsenal goals in the space of 10 second-half minutes. But they weren't just any four goals, or just 10 normal minutes.
For 10 unfathomable minutes, the glory days were back.
For 10 breathtaking minutes, the stylish Arsenal of Arsene Wenger's wildest dreams shone through.
For 10 lightheaded minutes, the goals and thrills flew in faster than a Chelsea coaching tenure.
And for 10 deeply and intensely satisfying minutes, everything felt right again.
Passes fizzed and players flowed and sweeping moves abounded. Chances were finished and skills were flaunted and everything was working in unison.
The results rewarded the flair being flashed throughout the pitch. Four goals, each seemingly as clever as the one that came before, turned a tight halftime draw into a second-half snoozer. And each time the finisher merely supplied the final touch in a move that brought credit to the whole team.
First, it was Olivier Giroud on the end of a perfectly executed set piece. Then Santi Cazorla, then Theo Walcott and finally Giroud again as the Gunners cranked up the style. All of it happened in the space of 10 minutes, and three of the assists came from the foot of Lukas Podolski, who added a 30-yard stunner of his own in the first half.
"In the second half, from the start on we created chance after chance and played at a very high pace," said Wenger (via Arsenal.com). "From there on it was great movement, great quality in our final balls and in our combination play."
Is this what crack is like? I need to get on crack.— Keith Hickey (@usarsnl) January 23, 2013
Is this porn? I think this is porn.— FourFourTom (@FourFourTom) January 23, 2013
Back in reality, it was only West Ham, and the Gunners remain four points adrift of the Champions League spots. It was only one match, and no matter how amazing, it won't solve all of Arsenal's problems. Consistency remains elusive, and reinforcements remain absolutely necessary.
The 10-minute binge will have warmed bitter hearts, but it shouldn't hide the fact that for the fourth straight league match, Arsenal conceded the game's first goal. Nor should it cover up the failure to keep a clean sheet for the fifth straight time.
As ever this season with Arsenal, one fantastic result does not guarantee any amount of future success. But for one night, nine years and 10 gloriously woozy minutes later, Arsenal seemed once again invincible.
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