They had only played one competitive match of the new season but already the knives were out at Arsenal.

Despite boasting of the financial muscle at their disposal they had failed to sign one player or spend a single pound before the new English Premier League campaign kicked off.

And when they were beaten at home on Saturday by Aston Villa — who narrowly avoided relegation last season — a predictably poisonous atmosphere resulted.

Fans vented their fury not only at their under-performing stars but also manager Arsene Wenger, and especially the board, for the lack of new faces.

 But Wenger’s beleaguered squad lifted the storm clouds, for now at least, with a decisive 3-0 victory over Fenerbahce in the first leg of a critical European Champions League playoff Wednesday.

Entry to the lucrative competition was seen as vital if they are to attract some big-name signings before the transfer window shuts on September 2.

And Arsenal made light work of their assignment in the Turkish city of Istanbul, as goals from Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud all but sealed their progress.

In truth, Arsenal were far superior to Fenerbahce, who could have be expelled from the competition even if they were to progress in the tie.

The Turks are awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport challenging a ban from European competition handed down to them by UEFA on match-fixing charges.

But after Gibbs turned home a cross from England international Theo Walcott on 51 minutes Fenerbahce’s threat was limited.

Ramsey doubled the Gunners’ lead with a powerful strike from outside the area and Olivier Giroud converted a late penalty after Walcott was adjudged to have been brought down in the area.

After the game Wenger told Sky Sports: “We could have be a little bit shaky after what happened on Saturday so it was important to start on the right foot.”

As for the possibility of making some signings before the transfer window shuts he added: “A lot will happen in the last ten days.”

Elsewhere, Greek side PAOK Salonika, who were reinstated to the competition after Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv were thrown out on match-fixing charges, drew 1-1 with Schalke in Germany.

Jakub Kosecki’s equalizer helped Polish side Legia Warsaw to a 1-1 draw with Steaua Bucuresti in Romania while Austria Vienna won 2-0 away at Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.Cosmos’ grand plans

Two goals from Mohamed Salah helped Swiss club FC Basel to a 4-2 victory over Ludogorets Razgrad in Bulgaria.

In the English Premier League, Jose Mourinho made it two wins from two games as Chelsea beat Aston Villa in a controversial clash at Stamford Bridge.

The home side took the lead when Eden Hazard’s shot cannoned off Villa’s American goalkeeper Brad Guzan and into Antonio Luna, propelling the ball over the line.

But Villa equalized when Belgian international Christian Benteke grabbed his third goal of the season, finishing a smart move at the near post.

Branislav Ivanovic was perhaps fortunate not be sent off when he appeared to elbow Benteke and he proved to be the match winner, heading Frank Lampard’s free kick home with 17 minutes left.

After the game Mourinho told reporters: “That was very hard, I’ve missed that about the Premier League. This is what I like. Villa probably deserved a point.”