Arsenal brushed aside north London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League.
In the first north London derby of the season, Thomas Partey’s superb strike gave the Gunners a first-half lead but Tottenham were level at half-time thanks to Harry Kane’s penalty.
Arsenal put the game to bed in 20 second-half minutes as Gabriel Jesus took advantage of a Hugo Lloris mistake to score his first derby goal and Granit Xhaka continued his revival with a third.
Before Arsenal’s final goal, Tottenham’s Emerson Royal was shown a straight red card for a late foul on Gabriel Martinelli.
The 3-1 win ensures Arsenal have now won seven of their eight league games this season and remain top of the Premier League, four points above Manchester City, who play tomorrow.
For Tottenham, the Emirates defeat not only ends the club’s unbeaten record but also their hopes of equalling their longest unbeaten run set under Mauricio Pochettino.
Arteta was able to recall the previously injured Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko, while Antonio Conte started both Son Heung-Min and Richarlison but was without Dejan Kulusevski after he pulled up during the international break.
Arsenal have enjoyed their best start to a season in 15 years before the recent break and were the better team for much of the first half. The dangerous Martinelli hit the post from a tight angle inside three minutes, while Xhaka almost found the bottom corner with a long-range strike.
Aaron Ramsdale was called into action in-between Arsenal’s early chances when Richarlison diverted an inviting free-kick towards goal, but the effort would have been ruled out for offside in any case.
Arsenal took a well-deserved lead on 19 minutes as a fantastic move culminated in Partey curling a superb strike past Lloris. Spurs responded well to the setback, however, and were back level 10 minutes later as Kane scored from the penalty spot after Gabriel brought down Richarlison.
It was Kane’s 14th Premier League goal against Arsenal, making him the all-time top scorer in north London derbies.
Both sides had half chances before the break – Kane headed tamely at Ramsdale and Jesus jinked past two defenders before poking a shot at Lloris – but the score was level and the derby finely poised at half-time.
It was advantage Arsenal less than five minutes after the restart as Lloris twice failed to smother the ball from Bukayo Saka’s shot and Jesus pounced to score his fifth goal of the season.
The £50 million summer signing should have scored his second and Arsenal’s third with his side’s next attack but could only head wide from Ben White’s cross. With Arsenal now on top and looking to put the game to bed, Jesus diverted another header on goal and this time the diving Lloris was up to the task.
Tottenham were reduced to ten men on the hour mark as Royal caught Martinelli on the back of his heel with at best a clumsy and a worst a cynical challenge.
Arsenal were in dreamland minutes later as Xhaka found space in the box and rifled a shot into the bottom corner to put his side 3-1 ahead. Conte made four substitutions as he looked to limit the damage and breathed a sigh of relief when Odegaard’s crisp shot flew wide of the post.
Arsenal kept pressing and both Martinelli and substitute Kieran Tierney came close to inflicting more misery on Spurs before the final whistle was met with raucous cheers from the home fans.
Here are some five talking points
A Gabriel Jesus goal proved to the perfect omen once again as he kept up his record of never losing when scoring as Arsenal won the north London bragging rights.
There was only a point between themselves and Tottenham heading into the clash, but the Gunners were able to extend that gap to four as they remained top of the Premier League. Jesus’ tap-in helped them re-establish their lead, owing partly to a Hugo Lloris error, early in the second-half.
Thomas Partey had ignited the Emirates with a sensational strike after 20 minutes, which came after a dominant opening by the hosts. Tottenham were under the cosh throughout the first-half but were handed a lifeline when Gabriel fouled Richarlison in the box, which allowed Harry Kane to level things from 12 yards.
Tottenham’s hopes of getting back into the contest for a second time were made more difficult by Emerson Royal’s red card on the hour. His challenge on Gabriel Martinelli saw Anthony Taylor dismiss the wing-back and minutes later Granit Xhaka’s strike all but made the game safe.
Despite their impressive beginning to the campaign plenty of cynics still exist. Their reverse at Manchester United saw them labelled as naive and it furthered the narrative that they’d only beaten teams you’d expect them to see off.
The game with Tottenham was either going to underline the credentials of this new look Arsenal or suggest that not much has actually changed. Their display certainly fed the former theory as they bossed their neighbours, even before they went down to ten men.
Originally their target was the top four, but as the weeks go by this Arsenal side grow in confidence and may have to be regarded as more than just Champions League hopefuls.
In recent seasons Liverpool’s attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were the most productive, powering the Reds to European and domestic glory. Now, only one of those remain and Arsenal look to have found their own band of brothers in the final third.
Martin Odegaard came back in having missed the last game at Brentford. It means Arteta has started with the Norwegian, Bukayo Saka, Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus as the front four in seven of Arsenal’s eight league games so far. Fabio Vieira can count himself unlucky to miss out whilst the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah will want more involvement.
Based on current form though, Arsenal’s frontline is picking itself and, despite the Gunners competing on several fronts, Arteta has shown no willingness to switch things up which suggests he’s set on the quartet.
Against the so-called top six this term Conte has seen his side draw and lose. In their first major assignment at Chelsea earlier this term they were lucky to escape with a point, owing to a stoppage time equaliser. Chelsea dominated proceedings, much like Arsenal did at the Emirates on Saturday lunchtime.
Now that may well be part of the plan: playing on the break by inviting teams onto you, which would make sense. But against the top teams, backing your defence to soak up the pressure before performing a sucker punch, will not always pay dividends. Rarely has a counter-attacking side won the league and that is worth remembering given Conte’s desire to make Tottenham contenders once more.
The centre-half has kept his position at the heart of defence as he partners William Saliba. It is Ben White who’s been forced to find a new home at right-back, but the Brazilian is in danger of becoming concerningly error-prone. His lunge bought down Richarlison, and invited Tottenham back into the game.
Earlier this year it was his blunder that gave Fulham the lead at the Emirates, although he would later atone for his error. Nevertheless, with Arsenal reassessing their own ambitions following an impressive start to the year, such mistakes cannot continue.
Arteta is also not without options, especially alongside the blossoming Saliba, meaning Gabriel may soon be looking over his shoulder.
‘Shirt No.9 derby’
One of the subplots to the north London derby was the battle for Brazil’s No.9 shirt. Richarlison is its current occupant and scored in the midweek win over Tunisia in Paris. Jesus meanwhile was overlooked for selection just months out from the World Cup.
The Arsenal man will have to excel at club level if he is to force his way back in and did exactly that – in front of his compatriot. Richarlison was certainly a nuisance and won the penalty for Tottenham in the first-half, but Jesus’ impressive form continued and he capped his display with a goal in the second-half.
As has been the case this term Arsenal’s summer signing has shown himself capable of linking play by dropping deep, but also highlighted his predatory instincts by tapping home his side’s second.
- A Tell report / Agencies