"What crisis?" Theo Walcott asked a TV interviewer on Saturday evening after his hat-trick and two assists had delivered Arsenal's fourth successive league victory. But Arsène Wenger, the manager, is under no illusions that his team has emerged completely from its uncertain form of autumn. When Newcastle United equalised for the third time with 21 minutes of Saturday's match to go, it seemed as likely that there would be jeers at the final whistle as cheers, and the four goals that Arsenal went on to score against tired opponents for the 7-3 win had not erased his team's earlier defensive failings from his memory.
"No, we are cautious on that front," he said. "I always said that I am confident because I feel that the team is focused and has a good spirit and that we are united. It looks like we are slowly getting there, but we still have some work to do. We are not out of it. We have rebuilt the team and we started well and after that we stuttered a little bit. Now we have come back. We had to rebuild the team and we have done it. It demands some time and some understanding. How good are we? It will be decided in the next four or five months."
Wenger admits that the "rebuilt" team is not constructed along the same lines as the serial trophy-winners of a decade ago. The midfield lacks the strength of a Patrick Vieira or Gilberto Silva, especially when the opposition have the ball, although Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, the two players deployed in front of the back four, have other qualities.
"It is very different to the past," Wenger said. "First of all the other teams have improved, you can see that. Newcastle went to Old Trafford and scored three times. They came here and scored three times. The technical quality of the Premier League teams has improved and it is more difficult to stop them from playing. We have, maybe, a team that is less built to stop others from playing. We are a technical side so going forward we look like always, we can create something.
"The only thing we can do is play and play and play again, and take the initiative and go for it and go for the way that we believe that football should be played. After that you can win and lose in football, especially in the modern game. You know that you cannot win every game 7-3 and your team has to be capable of winning 1-0 sometimes and I was very pleased with our result at Wigan because we played against a good side and we had to dig deep and were quite solid defensively. So it was a completely different game.
"The biggest thing is that we couldn't see any sign of giving up, even at 3-3. Because it is not easy mentally to be 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3 and we came back again – that is not easy."
Goals galore: high-scoring games
* Saturday's Arsenal/Newcastle game was the fifth Premier League match with 10 or more goals:
11 goals: 29 September 2007
Portsmouth 7-4 Reading
10 goals: 29 December 2007
Tottenham Hotspur 6-4 Reading
22 November 2009: Tottenham Hotspur 9-1 Wigan
28 August 2011: Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal
29 December 2012: Arsenal 7-3 Newcastle United
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