Mikel Arteta has finally conceded Arsenal are title contenders after becoming the Gunners’ most successful ever manager following 150 games in charge.
Gabriel’s second half winner saw the Gunners return to the Premier League summit. It means Arteta has 87 wins as Arsenal boss – five more than Arsene Wenger had at this stage. Wenger is alongside George Graham on 82 victories after 150 matches, with Harry Bradshaw on 78, Tom Whittaker on 75 and Terry Neill on 72.
And as Granit Xhaka turned the air blue by hailing the “f****** unbelievable” atmosphere within the camp, Arteta admitted for the first time this season that his team are genuine challengers.
Arteta said, “We are in contention, today. In football, today and tomorrow are very different. But let’s enjoy this time. Manchester City have the best manager in the world, the best team in the world. They have shown it consistently in every single competition.
“We have to be very, very respectful of that. We are getting much better as a team, competing much better, getting really good results right now. Obviously we are still very early in the season. We have to maintain that. It is going to be a long, long marathon but we have had a really good start.”
Arteta’s men dominated throughout but needed Gabriel to toe over the line from a matter of inches after Bukayo Saka’s in-swinging corner somehow sneaked through the box without anybody getting a touch.
Xhaka, whose work alongside Thomas Partey gave Arsenal an iron grip in midfield, forced an apology from BT Sport interviewer Des Kelly – and an embarrassed smile from himself – with his instinctive reaction. T
The Swiss midfielder added, “From the start to the end we deserved to win. We were much, much the better team and we are so happy that everything is going so well. At the end of the season, nobody asks you how you won in November, December or January. We are trying to get as many points as possible and after that, let’s see where we head.”
Arsenal have been top at the end of each weekend since their win at Bournemouth on August 20 and Arteta added, “It was a big win for us and another step. To come here against a top opponent, world class players all over the pitch, dominate the game and actually win it is very meaningful. Hopefully it will give the boys even more belief.
“When we lost at Manchester United we lacked the discipline that is necessary in certain moments to do what you have to do, because if not you get punished. But we learned that lesson really well and it was a fantastic achievement to see the team taking another step. We were under pressure because we lost the top spot on Saturday. We prepared the game to come here and win and the boys did it. They were phenomenal.”
Chelsea boss Graham Potter, who has now lost successive Prem games without scoring, admitted his team had been second best.
Potter said, “You could see the difference in the two teams in terms of confidence, structure and working together. As much as it is not nice to say, Arsenal deserved to win the game and were the better team. We have to take that and use it as motivation to improve.”
Chelsea’s only shot on target was a first half effort from Kai Havertz, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sole significant contribution was a booking for a poor foul on Ben White.
Raheem Sterling also struggled and Potter accepted, “We’re not as fluid and in a good enough place as I would like us to be. There are lots of reasons for that but clearly that’s where we have to improve as well.”
– The Sun report