Arsenal 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

How badly did Arsenal need a performance like this? Coming off the horrid capitulation to Newcastle was bad enough, but the morning's early game saw Manchester United get back to winning ways thanks to what admittedly was a fantastic wonderstrike from Wayne Rooney against their cross-town rivals Manchester City. Three points were now a prerequisite to a continued interest in the title race, and three points were delivered in perhaps the season's most imperious and complete performance.

Seriously? I think this was my favorite Arsenal win in a very long time.

That may seem like hyperbole when you take into accounts other results in the last few years, but it wasn't just the hatful of chances created that leads me to say that. Take that plethora of chances, and marry it to perhaps the single best defensive performance Arsenal have come up with since the 0-0 with Real Madrid a few years back. Sure, the level of opposition was far inferior on this occasion, but keep in mind that this Wolves team have given the giants of English football fits all season.

They've beaten the Mancs. They've beaten the other Mancs. They've beaten Chelsea. If you want to expand the criteria for giants a little bit, they've beaten Liverpool.

With this win, Arsenal have a neat little pair of 2-0 bookends against this squad of Davids.

I'm harsh on the team when they don't do well, but I like to think that I point it out when they're undeniably brilliant. The mark of just how brilliant they were could be explained by Wojciech Szezcsny's workload. I remember him punching well to clear the danger on a corner, but he could have been reading the Guardian on a lawn chair otherwise. The returns of Johan Djourou and Alex Song to the side played no small part in that, I can assure you. Djourou especially radiates calm into the rest of the back four - I know Arseblog mentioned that on Sunday, but I've been saying it all season.

When those two are in the team, I back the Arsenal to have a great chance to beat just about anyone (downgrading to "puncher's chance" only against Barcelona). This post is mainly going to be a love-in, but I would be remiss if I didn't say that it's worrying that we depend so heavily on two guys who don't have adequate replacements in case of calamity. No Djourou, no Song, no trophies. They must remain fit if we are to challenge for anything, and I include the Carling Cup in that. I wouldn't trust Sebastien Squillaci to defend a parking spot.

OK, moderate dooming out of the way, the team attacked just as well as they defended on Saturday. Wolves didn't have much of the ball, but whenever they did the Gunners countered ruthlessly. The midfield ticked along metronomically thanks to Cesc Fabregas and a fabulous performance from Jack Wilshere. Andrei Arshavin worked much harder than he has in the past, and contributed with some nice passes. If he's playing himself into form, that's all the better for us. On the other flank, Theo Walcott caused an endless array of problems for George Elokobi, Wolves' left back.

For a last-placed side, Wolves are really not that bad and are renowned for working hard and making opponents fight for time and space. But, they came to the Emirates and found themselves standing on the tracks when the train was coming through.

As good as the defense and the midfield were, special mention has to be given to the tip of the attacking spear, Robin van Persie. He has never failed to show promise in an Arsenal shirt, but his career has often been derailed by injuries as untimely as they must have been frustrating to the Dutchman. His 16th-minute goal was majestic, a sweeping volley that left Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey with no chance.

Photo: Getty Images

Speaking of, Hennessey was lights-out and was on several occasions the only thing standing between his team and a much less flattering scoreline. I can see why he's taken the No. 1 shirt from Marcus Hahnemann, and there must be a section of the Wolves support that wants to know why he hasn't been playing all season.

The second goal was a bit more perfunctory, with most of the hard work done by Fabregas (who also assisted on the first goal). Robin got into a great position to the right of the last defender though, and did well to stay onside when the square ball came across. He still had Hennessey to beat, which was no small matter on the day. Still, his low shot nestled perfectly in the corner, effectively ending the contest with half an hour to go.

Unlike last week, the Gunners saw out the game with no problem whatsoever. They held the ball, making Wolves chase and demoralizing them further. The defense dealt with set pieces very well, and at no point did I think the men in yellow were ever going to score. It was a fantastic performance to head into what is unquestionably the most daunting challenge of the season.

Ahh, yes. Barcelona. They come into Wednesday's clash having been especially lucky to get a 1-1 draw with Sporting Gijon, so they aren't invincible. But, if you look objectively, they are better than us at almost every position. I don't particularly rate Victor Valdes in goal, but he does have an experience edge over Szezcsny (though the young Pole's confidence is such where this probably shouldn't be a big deal). Fabregas is an even match for Xavi or Andres Iniesta. Outside of that though, we trail them in a like-for-like comparison.

Photo: Unknown
That's not to denigrate our guys...not by any means. I think Alex Song is a fine holding midfielder...but Sergio Busquets is better. Johan Djourou is now our most important defender and has been brilliant this season, but he's not Gerard Pique. And, of course, the elephant in the room - what the fuck are we going to do about Leo Messi?

Even beyond last year's powerbombing at their hands, I can't get the 2006 Champions' League final out of my mind. To this day, I think "Terje Hauge" is Norwegian for "Phil Dowd".

Still, I'll leave the Barcelona preview in the capable hands of Brett. Just know that I'm about 100% less optimistic about this tie than he'll be!

Despite that, I hope fervently to be proven wrong. COME ON, YOU GUNNERS!