FOR 45 minutes Wanderers gave us a promising vision of the future, then proceeded to ruin it all by reverting back to a more depressing example of the here and now.

Regardless of how tough a start Owen Coyle's side have had, the manager knows all too well that there are problems that need to be solved quickly in order to prevent this season descending into panic.

Not since the farcical tenure of Sammy Lee have the Whites started a Premier League campaign so slowly, and while this current side stand head and shoulders above that one in terms of quality and stability, football remains the same results business.

Coyle has promised changes. And he has the personnel available to him. But the stark truth is that since that FA Cup semi-final defeat against Stoke City at Wembley in April, his side have won just two league games in 12 attempts, shown a worrying defensive frailty and seem to have some previously reliable components suffering a huge crisis of confidence.

Strangely enough, those changes have already begun.

After getting a confidence boost in the Carling Cup against Aston Villa, Coyle stuck with the same 4-5-1 formation that had impressed at Villa Park. Furthermore, he axed under-performers Kevin Davies, Dedryck Boyata and Tuncay from the last league outing, and kept faith with David Wheater in place of the absent Gary Cahill.

Although Gael Kakuta may dispute whether he should also have been included, it was certainly a welcome shake-up, and what's more, it worked like a dream in the first half as Wanderers produced a gristly first-half performance the likes of which we haven't seen since the second half at QPR.

Tackles rained in and knocked Arsenal completely out of their comfort zone. And while you could argue there was not enough inventiveness going forward, the impending return of Stuart Holden should alter that in the next few weeks.

Had Wojciech Szczesny not made an excellent save from Darren Pratley in the second minute, then Wanderers may have had something to hang on to.

There was much to admire, however, from the way they defended their own penalty area, with Paul Robinson and captain for the day Zat Knight answering a lot of their recent critics by putting their bodies on the line time after time.

Davies's exile lasted only 20 minutes as Ngog clashed heads with Laurent Koscielny and had to be helped off the pitch with concussion. And while that stunted Coyle's gameplan, he would have congratulated his side at half time for a job well done to that point.

It was only after the break that Wanderers undid all their hard work.

Just 43 seconds after Coyle had sent his side out with a message of “more of the same” Gretar Steinsson dived into a tackle with Gervinho, leaving himself out of position, and Aaron Ramsey fed Robin Van Persie, who was given far too much time and space to go round Fabrice Muamba before beating Jussi Jaaskelainen at his near post – a cardinal sin for all goalkeepers.

That signalled a downward spiral. Eight minutes later David Wheater had been sent off for the slightest pull on Theo Walcott's shirt, a professional foul in the eye's of referee Mark Clattenburg.

Arsenal were visibly buoyed, and with Mikel Arteta becoming increasingly influential now that Muamba had been sacrificed for Boyata, they proceeded to pick the Whites apart at the seams.

While Jaaskelainen shares his part of the blame for the opening goal, he repaired a lot of the damage with a string of second-half saves.

He denied Theo Walcott one-on-one and palmed away Van Persie's close-range header to remind everyone he is still capable of the outstanding.

Chris Eagles did have a chance as the Whites briefly threatened on the break, his lack of pace costing him a clear sight of goal after a fine ball through by Petrov.

But it was always a case of when, and not if, Arsenal would get a second. And it was done with aplomb by Van Persie, who conjured his 100th goal for the Gunners by cheekily flicking Walcott's cross home from six yards. The relief was tangible.

Alex Song wrapped it up with a delightful finish from the edge of the box in the final minute – leaving the rather sparse Emirates crowd singing Arsene Wenger's name as they walked out into the streets of Islington. How things change in the fickle world of football.

Whether Coyle and his side can get out of their current rut in such style is a matter of much conjecture.

Chelsea visit the Reebok next week now thankfully shorn of Fernando Torres, after which there will be a fortnight to reflect on a league table that is unlikely to make good reading.

At this stage last year, Wanderers were being talked about as European contenders. The brand of football Coyle desperately wants to employ was working well. Now things are threatening to head south, the manager has instigated Plan B, and in the early stages he got it spot on.

Add Cahill and Holden to the equation and there should be some reason for optimism heading into a run of games where points look eminently more winnable.

But if Wanderers are to be spoken about as anything but a struggling side again this season, we'll have to see a lot more of their first half hustle than the nervous, fragile fare they served up after 4pm on Saturday.