If Arsenal are supposed to be out of form then no-one seems to have told the team themselves.
Tonight, at a freezing cold Highbury, Arsène Wenger's side comprehensively dismissed the challenge of a previously resurgent Portsmouth outfit.
- Silva 72
- Reyes 67 Goal!
- Bergkamp Goal!
- Henry Goal! Goal!
- Eboue 67
- Fabregas 72
- Hughes 90 Yellow Card
- Vukic 45
- Skopelitis 90
- Todorov 45
Dennis Bergkamp and Jose Antonio Reyes scored well-worked goals in the first 13 minutes then Thierry Henry added his customary couple just before half time. Naturally the pace dropped after the interval but you got the impression Arsenal could have added to their tally at whim. This was as close as they have been to top form all season.
The victory put Arsenal up to sixth in the Premiership table but, more importantly, there has been a sense of solidity, and indeed solidarity, about the three games since the defeat to Chelsea on December 18.
The revival continues.
Wenger made three changes from the side that had beaten Charlton on Boxing Day. All three smacked of rotation amid a hectic Christmas period. Cesc Fabregas and Freddie Ljungberg dropped to the bench to accommodate Mathieu Flamini and Robert Pires. Reyes retained his place but, in doing so, fell back into midfield. Bergkamp came in alongside Henry and Alexander Hleb was omitted entirely.
It was bitter North London night. Snow had fallen on the capital over the past day or so. Meanwhile freezing temperatures all over England had forced three of tonight's full Premiership fixture list to be postponed.
Arsenal's chances of regaining the Premiership title seemed somewhat chilly themselves after that defeat by Jose Mourinho's side. Since then, that victory at the Valley had at least started to address the Achilles heel of the season so far - points away from home in the League.
However before that all important reverse, Arsenal had won nine and drawn one of their 10 home games this season. Normal service quickly resumed in, what turned out to be, a rampant victory.
Within seven minutes of the kick-off, Arsenal had conjured up a wonderful goal of pace and penetration. Flamini muscled off his marker in midfield and spread the ball wide for Reyes in the left-hand channel. The Spaniard knocked it past Andy O'Brien and raced around him to collect. He then slid in a cross that Bergkamp converted at the near post with a low, first-time shot. It was the Dutchman's 119th goal for Arsenal and took him to 10th in the all-time list for the Club.
Six minutes later the lead was doubled. Kolo Toure pumped a long ball forward for Henry to collect on the right of the area. He tapped the ball back for Reyes, who had been neglected at the near post. The 22-year-old, scorer of the all-important goal at Charlton, finished with confidence into the roof of the net.
Portsmouth seemed shell-shocked. They replied with a little pressure but never called Jens Lehmann into action. For their part Arsenal seemed happy with what they had but were always poised to seize the moment should an opportunity present itself.
That happened eight minutes before the break when, from his own half, Flamini sent a raking ball forward. Henry collected the ball in his stride, rounded the keeper and tucked the ball in a split second. The game was effectively over.
Just to make sure, Arsenal squeezed in another in the 42nd minute. Cygan robbed John Viafara as he seemed set to shoot and, quick as a flash, the ball was worked towards the other end. Henry sprung the offside trap to send Pires clear.
Reyes was racing through the centre but he was nudged over by Andy Griffin just as Pires' pass came across from the right. Referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot and Henry pulled off his trademark cheeky penalty, chipping the ball over Jamie Ashdown as the keeper went the wrong way.
The pattern continued after half time, albeit with a little less urgency from the home side. Portsmouth had created virtually nothing up to this point. At least their first opportunity on the hour was a cracker.
From the left of the Arsenal area, Lumana Lua Lua curled an effort over Lehmann and against the bar. Matthew Taylor followed that a minute later by forcing the German into a low save.
However Arsenal responded with a sweeping move that end with Bergkamp's crisp first-time shot that Ashdown needed two attempts to save.
And that was that. The match rather petered out to its inevitable conclusion with precious few scares at either end.
Of course this game completed the final full year of fixtures at Highbury. In 12 months time, Arsenal will be seeing in 2007 at the Emirates Stadium.
It is only a minor milestone of course but festive football is a much loved tradition in England.
And this was a fitting send-off.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Dec 2005