Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan dazzled on their Emirates Stadium debuts as Aaron Ramsey’s hat-trick led Arsenal’s unceremonious 5-1 thumping of Everton.
By the time £56million recruit Aubameyang displayed his midas touch in front of goal, Arsene Wenger’s side were already three goals to the good and cruising on account of Aaron Ramsey’s first two strikes, which came either side of a Laurent Koscielny header.
Mkhitaryan set up the Wales international’s opener and also laid on Aubameyang, his old partner in crime at Borussia Dortmund, for a goal on his maiden Premier League appearance, although the offside flag should have ruled that one out.
Arguably, a defensive showing as abject as the ramshackle interpretation offered by Everton in the first half deserved such ill fortune.
On-loan Manchester City centre-back Eliaquim Mangala suffered a debut ordeal and deflected Ramsey’s second past Jordan Pickford, while Sam Allardyce’s pre-match assertion that Arsenal were defensively weak came back to bite him brutally and repeatedly.
Everton improved after the break – it would have surely been impossible to do otherwise – and substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin reduced the arrears before Ramsey claimed the match ball from Mkhitaryan’s third assist.
Arsenal’s new-look forward line slotted effortlessly into gear as the two one-time Dortmund allies combined to create a sixth-minute opener.
Aubameyang found Mkhitaryan with a clever reverse pass down the right channel and the Armenia playmaker cut an excellent ball across the Everton six-yard box to leave Ramsey with a simple finish.
The record signing had a shot deflected behind by Ashley Williams that led to another corner, at which point Arsenal made it 2-0 – Shkodran Mustafi flicking on a delivery from the newly contracted Mesut Ozil for fellow centre-back Koscielny to stoop and convert.
It was proving to be a somewhat contrasting debut for Mangala as he turned his back to deflect Ramsey’s 19th-minute drive beyond Pickford’s best efforts.
Mustafi celebrated as if he was the latest man to get on the scoresheet when his flying challenge denied Theo Walcott a breakaway goal on his return to Emirates Stadium.
In the 32nd minute it was time for Aubameyang’s counter-attacking pace to come to the fore, with Ozil’s ball over the top releasing him, but England goalkeeper Pickford stood firm.
Having gone for power on that occasion, the Gabon striker delighted with sumptuous finesse to chip home his maiden Premier League goal – his link-up with Mkhitaryan proving fruitful once more.
Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal almost prolonged his recent goalscoring form by heading against the post before a disorientated Everton made hastily for the dressing room.
Walcott had a shot blocked before curling in a delightful cross for Oumar Niasse to hit the upright, meaning the visitors’ rally early in the second half was as impressive as it was futile.
Allardyce decided Walcott had given enough on his old stomping ground after the hour and replacement Calvert-Lewin outjumped fellow substitute Sead Kolasinac to plant a header past Petr Cech.
The veteran goalkeeper soon made way for David Ospina, having failed to shake off a knock from when Niasse tested his post.
And the new shot stopper was given even more insurance 16 minutes from time when the on-rushing Ramsey slammed home Mkhitaryan’s cutback.
Sixth-placed Arsenal are now within three points of Tottenham in fifth, while Everton being 14 back from the Gunners in 10th seems an inadequate demonstration of the gulf between the sides.
Key Opta stats:
– Arsenal are only the second team to lead by 4+ goals in half-time in consecutive Premier League home games, after Manchester United in November 1997 (vs Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday).
– Arsenal vs Everton is the highest scoring fixture in Premier League history (151 goals), with Arsenal’s 105 against the Toffees a record for one team against another in the competition.
– Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became the eighth player to score on his first ever Premier League appearance for Arsenal, after Steve Bould, Kevin Campbell, Freddie Ljungberg, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Thomas Vermaelen and Alexandre Lacazette.