Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0: Bendtner stars for the next generation
The new Arsenal generation announced themselves in a style typical of their club last night: total dominance, more than 12 missed chances and two late winning goals.
The more they looked like they might blow it, the better Arsenal got before Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson's goals finally put the Emirates stadium out of their misery.
"We have wave after wave of generations of new players," Arsène Wenger said afterwards, which was as good a description of their relentless attacks in the second half on a Newcastle team that was virtually the strongest they could field.
The same could not be said of Arsenal who showcased the latest batch of Wenger's academy players who all made a compelling case to be part of their club's future.
"Every one of these players could play in my first team," Wenger said later although inevitably not all will make it. Bendtner advanced a strong case, heading home Armand Traoré's cross for his first Arsenal goal with seven minutes left. It is an indicator of the competition at Arsenal that the Danish striker has already scored three international goals for his country, one of them a winner against Germany.
The French left-back Traoré is a phenomenal prospect at 17 years old, who may do for Arsenal's left side what Emmanuel Eboué did for the right flank.
So too Denilson, bought from Sao Paulo in his native Brazil, who emerged last season and smashed a brilliant second goal in the closing stages last night. As this young team celebrated in the centre of the pitch at the end you could imagine 19 other Premier League managers gritting their teeth in frustration and envy.
Top of the Premier League, sailing through the Champions League and £70m in the bank, life is sweet for Wenger. Although the Frenchman did sound a note of caution in relation to Arsenal's bullish financial results this week, reminding everyone operating profits were just £5.6m before tax and that not no one should get carried away.
Bendtner signed a five-year deal in the summer after a season on loan at Birmingham City in the Championship which has made him an imposing centre-forward who, Wenger said, will get his chance this season. "The best way to put me under pressure is to play the way he did," the Arsenal manager said. "We have four strikers at the club, not 20, so at some point in the season we will need that, especially during the African Nations."
Having to play many of the team that beat West Ham on Sunday, this defeat was especially hard for Allardyce to take. He complained about being forced to play two days after the Sunday game, apparently at the request of the Metropolitan police force who will have to cover Tottenham's home game tonight against Middlesbrough and could not stretch to both games.
"What we got in the end was a fatigued side of players who couldn't run any more," Allardyce said. "As good as Arsenal were we contained them at times and they finally capitalised and won the game. It [tiredness] is the only thing we can point to and we can't control that, we have to play when we are told to.
"I don't know why we couldn't play on Wednesday [tonight]. It happens in the north-west [games played on the same nights]. I think they have more police down here."
The Newcastle manager also bemoaned Obafemi Martins' uncertainty in front of goal – he missed three chances including one that was kicked off the line by Philippe Senderos. There were outstanding performances throughout the Arsenal team, including Lassana Diarra, who Wenger later claimed he only paid £2m to Chelsea for this summer.
Theo Walcott, Eboué and Eduardo da Silva all went close until eventually Bendtner and Denilson, with a shot from Abou Diaby's lay-off, finished the job.
Walcott is still something of an enigma – brilliant one moment, erratic the next – but he is still only 18 years old. He, and this Arsenal team, still have plenty of time.
Arsenal (4-4-2): Fabianski; J Hoyte, Song, Senderos, Traoré; Eboué (Diaby, 65), Diarra, Denilson, Walcott; Eduardo (Merida, 90), Bendtner. Substitutes not used: Lansbury, Mannone (gk), G Hoyte.
Newcastle (4-5-1): Given; Beye, Taylor, Rozehnal, Enrique; Milner (Butt, 69) , Smith, Faye, N'Zogbia, Amoebi (Emre, 60); Martins. Substitutes not used: Geremi, Edgar, Forster (gk).
Referee: H Webb (West Yorkshire).