Gunners blast the Rams
The Rams hit an Arsenal whirlwind on Saturday, and the home side showed why it is the Barclays Premier League pacesetter with a 5-0 victory against Billy Davies` side at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners dominated from the opening stages, with a hat-trick from Emmanuel Adebayor the highlight of a performance that suggested they will remain a genuine title contender, also on target for the Gunners were Abou Diaby and Cesc Fabreags.
Derby manager Billy Davies decided to stick with the players who beat Newcastle United 1-0 at Pride Park on Monday evening, while Arsene Wenger reshuffled his side, with Theo Walcott handed his first league start of the season. Diaby and Eduardo also began the match as Robin van Persie started as a substitute and Tomas Rosicky was left out with an injury.
Arsenal was lively from the start and should have taken the lead on five minutes, a poor ball from Tyrone Mears out of the Rams defence allowed Gael Clichy to burst into the penalty box. The Frenchman cross from wide found Adebayor who miskicked eight-yards from goal when he would have been expected to find the net.
But the home fans didn`t have long to wait for the opener, Abou Diaby collected the ball 25 metres from goal and as the Rams backed off, he finished clinically past Stephen Bywater into the top corner of the net.
Arsenal was well on top and the Rams were under siege, Diaby was denied minutes later by Bywater, while Theo Walcott put a shot wide.
The Rams settled and began to put some passes together with Stephen Pearson outstanding in the middle of the park but he didn`t have many other contributors and it wasn`t a surprise when the Gunners doubled their lead on 25 minutes, Fabregas` though ball sent Adebayor clear and he rounded Bywater on the edge of his area and finish into an open goal.
It was Liverpool all over again as the Rams struggled to cope with the pace of the Gunners and it was almost 3-0 midway through the half, Eduardo was denied by a superb late challenge from Pearson, and the striker met the resulting corner only for Bywater to finger tip over the bar.
It didn`t get any better after the break and the Rams found themselves further behind within four minutes of the restart. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot after Matt Oakley had tugged on the shirt of Eduardo, a harsh decision but these things happen when things aren`t going your way and Adebayor stepped up to score his second from the spot.
The Rams cheered on by a big following looked to get back into the game and Pearson fired wide following a Steve Howard lay off on the hour, and Andy Griffin also had an effort on target saved by Almunia.
But it was only a short stay of execution as the Gunners made it 4-0 with a superb goal on 70 minutes. Fabregas who had scored in his last five games did it again with a stunning long-range strike which beat Bywater.
The biggest cheer of the day from the large Rams travelling supporters came when Giles Barnes came on as a 75th minute substitute, to make his first appearance of the season.
But it was the Arsenal fans who were cheering four minutes when they made it 5-0, Adebayor took the ball out of the air on his chest beat Dean Leacock and slotted the ball home to complete his hat-trick.
Another disappointing result for the Rams, but Arsenal looked quality and would have beaten any team in the league on this performance. But it doesn`t take a genius to see the Rams will have to improve their game and quickly if they are to stay in touch with the rest of the league.
Arsenal: GK Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Walcott (Diarra 72), Fabregas (Denilson 71), Flamini (Song Billong 77), Diaby, Eduardo, Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Van Persie.
Derby: GK Bywater, Mears, Leacock, Davis, Griffin, Teale, Oakley (Feilhaber 56), Pearson, Lewis, Howard (Barnes 75), Miller (McEveley 84).
Subs Not Used: Price, Earnshaw.
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
Derby boss Billy Davies:
'The early goal cost us dearly, it was poor defending even if it was a top-class finish.
'We were playing against Adebayor, without doubt one of the top strikers in the world, and Fabregas - one of the best midfield players.
'There is no embarrassment to come here and get a lesson off them. We are not despondent, we are getting better.'
'This team means business. We are not there to show off. We want to achieve something together.
'We try to play football we love here, it is linked to what we aspire to do. When we don't win we are criticised, when we win people love us.
'There is still room for improvement and the target is to get better and hopefully peak in April and May.'