Gunners down Man City
London - Cesc Fabregas made a dream return for Arsenal by setting up Emmanuel Adebayor's double in Saturday's 2-0 win over Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.
Spanish midfielder Fabregas has missed the last three months with a knee injury but he showed no signs of rustiness by laying on both Adebayor's goals as the Togo striker confirmed his own return to fitness.
With England winger Theo Walcott also impressing on his return to action, Arsenal look in ominous form as the season approaches its decisive final weeks.
This victory tightened the club's grip on fourth place in the Premier League and the scouts from Villarreal - Arsenal's opponents in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday - will have departed for Spain sporting furrowed brows.
Diminished his status
City, meanwhile, seem no nearer banishing their reputation as English football's Jekyll and Hyde. Masterly at home, wretched away, Mark Hughes's side are still bewitching and infuriating their fans in equal measure.
Adebayor's goals may have been decisive, but there was only ever one player whose return was guaranteed to raise the roof at the Emirates - the mercurial Fabregas.
This has been the most trying season of the midfielder's career, marred by a loss of form, a serious injury and, of course, the notorious spitting spat with Hull assistant manager Brian Horton.
But none of that has diminished his status in the red half of north London.
Fabregas remains the team's talisman and he emphasised the point in his programme notes, where he vowed to shrug off the speculation over a possible move to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
"I'm very happy at Arsenal and have said it many times," he wrote. "I'm proud to be captain of this club and I see my future with Arsenal."
That provided Arsenal's fans with a welcome boost and they were singing their idol's name after just eight minutes when he set up Adebayor's opening goal.
After Robinho conceded a needless foul on Bacary Sagna five yards from the visitors' by-line, Fabregas chipped the resultant free-kick straight on to Adebayor's head and the Togolese's effort bounced past Shay Given.
For City, it was a nightmare start. A side with just one away league win to their name all season cannot afford to gift goal-starts to teams of Arsenal's quality and Hughes must have been beside himself with frustration.
His plans had already been shredded by Wayne Bridge hobbling off early on but, despite that, his team still made Arsenal wobble.
In the 27th minute, Shaun Wright-Phillips capped an exhilarating burst with a slide-rule pass for Micah Richards, whose shot brought a fine save from Manuel Almunia.
But the Spanish goalkeeper should have been picking the ball out of his net moments later when another slick move saw Wright-Phillips tee up substitute Gelson Fernandes. The Swiss had simply to pick his spot and fire City level, but his snatched effort merely clipped the outside of the post.
Collected the pass
Arsenal could have made Fernandes pay for that miss in first-half stoppage time, when Andrei Arshavin and Alex Song exchanged passes, only for Given to produce a superb sprawling save from the Russian's low shot.
But City's reprieve was temporary. Four minutes into the second half, Fabregas again showcased his superb vision by picking out Adebayor with a lofted ball over Richard Dunne. The striker collected the pass, nonchalantly rounded Given and rolled the ball into the empty net.
With the game won, Arsenal eased up. Adebayor and Walcott were both withdrawn as Wenger turned one eye to Tuesday and all that was left was the standing ovation for Fabregas, which duly came when he made way for Aaron Ramsey in the closing stages.