By Adam Crafton
'We are top of the league,' chanted the buoyant Arsenal fans as they disappeared down the turnstiles after extending their lead at the summit of the Premier League table to five points after
For an audience weened on a diet of false dawns in recent times, there is a wariness about excessive optimism among those on the terraces. There were no ditties predicting 'We're going to win the league.' Not yet. They know better in these parts.
Nine years of trophy famine has that kind of effect, even on the supporters of a club of Arsenal's illustrious past.
Main man: Aaron Ramsey is pumped up after slamming home in Arsenal's 2-0 win over Liverpool
Goal bound: Ramsey (left) celebrates Arsenal's second with Santi Cazorla (right), who smashed home the first
But should Arsenal continue to produce performances like this, the rank and file will truly start to believe that their side can reclaim the title for the first time since 2004.
Against Liverpool, Arsenal were at their brilliant best, bursting with fluid counter-attacking and electric movement.
The tempo to Arsenal's game was blistering, blurs of red hunting in packs and forcing errors from a Liverpool side usually so well-oiled in receiving the ball under pressure.
Aaron Ramsey was terrific again, powering into tackles to win the ball from Steven Gerrard and dispossessing Lucas Leiva with the sheer force of his upper body strength on two occasions in the first half.
This is a determined, gifted player at the peak of his game, totally confident in his abilities and driving Arsenal forward on every occasion. His tenth goal of the season was no fluke, dipping unerringly over Mignolet and into the top corner to double Arsenal's lead and finish the game as a serious contest.
Game on: Santi Cazorla scored Arsenal's opening goal as they stay top of the Premier League
If the end of season awards were handed out at Christmas, Ramsey would be the leading contender for the individual prize. He has been that good.
Perhaps only playing due to the enforced absence of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla was the star turn, stationed on the left-wing but roaming here, there and everywhere demanding the ball, committing opponents and making things happen.
One sharp turn on the half-way line left Steven Gerrard on his backside, chasing back in bewilderment. The Spaniard's half-volley to open the scoring after nineteen minutes was so sweetly struck and perfectly executed.
Alongside him, Ozil delivered another performance glistening with star quality, the ball seemingly adhered to his left foot, as he gave the slip to Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson time after time.
The German was so sleek, so composed, always keeping a cool head in a frenetic midfield battle.
Addressing the Manchester Lowry audience earlier this week, Sir Alex Ferguson reminisced about Eric Cantona, noting that the Frenchman 'made a simple pass look great'. The same can be said of the majestic Ozil, who appears effortless yet mesmerisingly precise in his distribution.
Instrumental: While looking menacing at times, Daniel Sturridge (left) and his strike partner Luis Suarez (below) couldn't breach the Gunners defence
Confidence flooded through the Arsenal ranks and their development into serious contenders is embodied as much by Olivier Giroud, all sparky attacking and selfless endeavour, as the headline acts of Cazorla and Ozil.
Up against three centre backs, the Frenchman embraced the challenge and was influential once again on Saturday. His intelligent movement and robust hold-up play stretched the Liverpool defence, pulling Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho out to the wide areas and freeing up space for the supporting cast to exploit.
Liverpool's experimental 3-5-2 formation didn't work, with Brendan Rodgers' players looking uncomfortable from back to front. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet sliced two clearances and dropped a cross.
Ideal result: Arsene Wenger raises his arms in satisfaction as Arsenal's performance is capped off by Ramsey's goal
Aly Cissokho, as the left wing-back was completely out of his depth, exposed as a liability defensively and equally unconvincing in his attacking forays, running into cul-de-sacs and squandering possession. He was subbed at the break by Rodgers, who introduced Coutinho and restored a more familiar 4-4-2 formation.
They immediately looked more assured, as Liverpool briefly rallied at the beginning of the second half. Suarez twice sprinted in behind the home defence and only the timely intervention of Laurent Koscielny and a miscued volley by Jordan Henderson spared Arsenal's errant offside trap.
Hard yards: Ramsey also got down to the dirty work in the midfield against Steven Gerrard
Often hailed as a tactical innovator, Rodgers got it wrong here. Gerrard was unusally off-the-pace, Leiva was overwhelmed by the sheer ferocity of Arsenal's pressing.
Still, that potent striking partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez remained menacing, always on the move and worrying defenders. But the two never really clicked as a duo on this occasion.
Even the best have off nights and attention should be focused on Arsenal's formidable centre-back pairing, with the organisational qualities of Per Mertesacker perfectly complementing Laurent Koscielny's more impulsive tendencies.
Tall timber: Arsenal's Per Mertesacker (left) and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny are all smiles after clean sheet
Arsenal didn't need a Suarez figure here and the home fans teased the Uruguayan, singing 'You should have signed for a big club'.
Given Liverpool's heritage, it was a little disingenuous but it was that kind of night for Arsenal fans, when everything made sense.
Two more showings like this one by Arsenal against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and Manchester United next weekend, and Suarez may just end up wishing that the 40million (and one pound) move to the Emirates went through after all.