Wenger's record-breakers show rare quality

Charlton Athletic 0 Arsenal 3

Records are records, and Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, is justly proud of what they say about his current team's place in the history of a hugely distinguished club. But in his old age in Monaco or wherever – still studying football videos no doubt – he will look back with equal pleasure on the sheer quality displayed on occasions like the second half of Saturday's local derby down at The Valley.

Some of the statistics have been well-rehearsed: 45 Premiership games now since failing to score, 27 of them unbeaten, and 22 away games since a defeat. Others emerge with each passing week: Arsenal have not made a better start to the season, it transpires, since 1947. All those landmarks were effectively guaranteed by Thierry Henry's goal immediately before half-time, a blow from which Charlton, game but lightweight, were never fancied to recover; and the quality behind that move was the sort of memory that Wenger will take to his grave.

Patrick Vieira, such a burnt-out case that he only looked world-class for about 95 per cent of the afternoon, played Dennis Bergkamp into space down the right and, even with Richard Rufus in attendance, the Dutchman had the vision and ability to cut the ball back perfectly for Henry. The shot, low and just inside a post, would have beaten just about any goalkeeper on the planet. The sagging shoulders of Charlton's players as they left the pitch a minute later told their own tale, an echo of the visiting supporters' chant: "That's why we're the champions".

Their team provided further evidence, as if it was required, throughout the second half, stunningly swift and incisive attacking bringing goals for Sylvain Wiltord – unselfishly set up by the magnificent Vieira – and one of the substitutes, Edu; all this from a team still lacking last season's Footballer of the Year, Robert Pires, as well as Fredrik Ljungberg, Ray Parlour and Lauren.

They will be needed, of course, over the next few months, for tomorrow the second (and most important?) part of Arsenal's season begins with a return to the Champions' League, against Borussia Dortmund. Only once in four campaigns have they progressed as far as the quarter-finals, which has to be the minimum requirement for Wenger's team this time.

"We play a big game on Tuesday and now we'll go into it with the necessary confidence and belief," Wenger said. "The Champions' League is always difficult and we're not fooled. We'll be up for it and ready to fight. It's a good opportunity and I think that we are stronger than last year at the same period. But that's all in front of us."

In front of Charlton is a six-pointer at Southampton and then an attempt to claim a first home point against Manchester United, who follow Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea in a formidable list of early-season visitors.

Many of their supporters were upset by the recent sale of the captain, Mark Kinsella, to Aston Villa for £1m – inevitably followed by a crop of injuries – but the Charlton plc chairman, Richard Murray, insists the club will not gamble and risk the financial problems besetting relegated clubs like Bradford City, Coventry, Derby, Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday. "Football is currently undergoing a massive reality check," he said. So are most teams who come up against Arsenal.

Goals: Henry (44) 0-1; Wiltord (66) 0-2; Edu (88) 0-3.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely 6; Young 4, Rufus 7, Fortune 6, Powell 5; Robinson 4, Bart-Williams 4 (Kishishev 5, 73), Jensen 6, Johansson 6; Lisbie 6 (Blomqvist 4, 66), Euell 5 (Svensson 6, 73). Substitutes not used: Rachubka (gk), Fish.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman 6; Luzhny 5, Keown 5, Campbell 6, Cole 6; Touré 6 (Edu 7, 63), Vieira 9, Gilberto Silva 5, Wiltord 8 (Cygan, 85); Bergkamp 7 (Kanu 7, 70), Henry 8. Substitutes not used: Shaaban (gk), Jeffers.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol) 5.

Bookings: Arsenal: Cole, Keown, Luzhny.

Man of the match: Vieira.

Attendance: 26,080.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album