Arsene Wenger hailed the creative impact of returning captain Cesc Fabregas after he set up both goals for Emmanuel Adebayor in Arsenal's 2-0 win over Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.
With leading scorer Robin van Persie unavailable because of a groin problem, Wenger elected to deploy Fabregas - and the Spain international set up Adebayor in each half, the forward taking his tally for the season to 14 on his return from eight weeks out with a hamstring problem.
"We had a very strong performance, a good team performance, both offensively and defensively," said Wenger. "But there is a lightness in the team now which I enjoy and we are playing without the handbrake."
The Arsenal manager continued: "Cesc had Denilson and Alex Song behind him who were strong, so he dedicated more of his game to the offensive tasks.
"He likes to come deep and play long balls, but he is still in the phase where is learning all the aspects of the game.
"I used him to adjust the balance of the team. I had choices today, could have pushed [Andrey] Arshavin up and one of the midfielders wide, but I felt we were well balanced."
The Gunners are now unbeaten in 17 Barclays Premier League games, cementing their position back in the top four.
Arsenal's form of late has been in marked contrast to earlier in the campaign when they struggled for consistency.
Wenger admitted: "If we had won two more games, we could have been challenging, but the other teams could maybe say that as well.
"We are 17 unbeaten, but we lost five of the first 14 - you can't do that and win the league. However, it shows that when a team is young, they can improve and they are showing that now. We are not the same team that was playing in the autumn."
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