While Alexis Sanchez was putting the finishing touches on his transfer to Manchester United, the Arsenal team-mates he had grown so frustrated with put on a timely and exhilarating exhibition of attacking football that should convince prospective signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan that the Gunners remain a fine side on their day.
The Chilean’s protracted Emirates exit has dominated back pages over the past fortnight and the situation took an even more intriguing twist when it emerged that Henrik Mkhitaryan will head to north London in a complicated swap deal.
Arsenal, though, wasted little time in getting the job done against Crystal Palace on Saturday, as a first-half Wengerball masterclass reminded the north Londoners' top-four rivals what they’re capable of when they play as a team.
Nacho Monreal returned from injury to score the opener before later being substituted with what looked like a reoccurrence of a thigh injury, while Alex Iwobi’s impotence in front of goal was finally remedied when he tapped in from close range as Palace made the same simple defensive mistakes over and over again.
Laurent Koscielny may be suffering from chronic Achilles problems yet he scored the Gunners third before Alexandre Lacazette ended his goal drought – scoring the 500th goal from a Frenchman in the Premier League – by finishing off a picturesque move with Mesut Ozil’s deft flick at the centre piece, emphasising just why Arsenal need to do everything to keep the German at the club beyond the summer.
Arsenal’s three goals in the first 13 minutes is the fastest a side has gone 3-0 up in the Premier League since the Gunners' infamous 4-4 draw against Newcastle in February 2011.
There was to be no shocking collapse this time around, though, as Arsenal exploited the gaps in Palace’s midfield and defence time and time ago to wrap up the game before the break.
Wenger’s aim to replace Alexis is likely to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang join from Borussia Dortmund, who confirmed shortly before kick-off that the Gunners had lodged a bid believed to be in excess of £40m for the Gabon striker.
It is a move which will almost certainly guarantee goals and Aubameyang could be the precise calibre of player required to persuade Ozil to renew his expiring contract.
Aubameyang – who has been omitted from Dortmund’s last two matchday squads due to his mind being elsewhere – would have been impressed with what he saw at the Emirates on a cold January afternoon, and the prospect of him linking up with his old BVB team-mate Mkhitaryan is one that will excite many Arsenal supporters desperate for star names at the club.
Sanchez, meanwhile, has finally got the move he wanted and, whether it be City or United, it’s clear that he wasn’t going to sign a new contract at Arsenal with the money on offer elsewhere.
Arsenal are better off without the temperamental Chilean and their potential January additions might just be enough to spark a surprise push for a top-four place, particularly if their new team-mates remain as invigorated as they clearly were by Alexis' absence against Palace.