Arsenal held on after a nervy finish to secure a memorable derby day victory against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium after a fantastic first half display
Arsenal secured a crucial victory in the north London derby – propelling the Gunners up the table and slowly turning the tide after their dismal start to the Premier League season.
It is a contrasting story for their fierce local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who were resigned to their third successive defeat – leaving the two enemies level on nine points each after six games played.
An explosive first-half performance went some way to handing Arsenal all three points, with goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka leaving Tottenham with a second half mountain too tall to climb.
Son-Heung Min bagged a goal for the visitors late on to provide a nervy finish, but Mikel Arteta’s side held on.
Arsenal had begun the season in dismal fashion, but three wins on the bounce against Norwich, Burnley and Tottenham respectively will go some way to lowering the voices of discontent that are beginning to grow loud among the Gunners faithful.
Here are the game’s main talking points as Arsenal enjoyed a stunning afternoon in the sunshine at the Emirates.
Arteta winning fans over
To say the Spaniard’s 21-month tenure in charge of Arsenal has been turbulent would be an understatement.
The FA Cup win of 2020 a distant memory for Gunners fans – some of whom were willing to part ways with the former Arsenal midfielder after three successive defeats at the beginning of the campaign.
However, nine points from their last three – the most recent of which coming against their most hated opposition will undoubtedly provide fans with hope Arsenal can begin to build a run that sees them start a charge up the table.
The former Man City assistant was his trademark agitated self on the touch line, issuing specific commands to every single player in a red shirt over the course of the 90 minutes.
While Arteta marshalling every single passage of play is a common sight, his wild celebrations less so – yet he could barely be contained during the first half flurry of goals.
Arsenal’s midfield balance
While last season’s lowest points saw Thomas Partey sidelined with Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny starting a number of games, this campaign has seen a drastic difference in the middle of the park for the Gunners.
A fully-fit Partey is a weapon Arsenal have rarely got to deploy since his arrival last year, while any speculation over whether Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard can play together was quashed this afternoon.
All three were in fine form, with Smith Rowe opening the scoring for the hosts after a delightful exchange between Odegaard and Saka.
The ‘Croydon De Bruyne’ found a remarkable amount of space both in the middle of the park and in the middle of Totteham’s penalty area for his goal.
Smith Rowe’s brilliance was on show for Arsenal’s second, linking up with Aubameyang who duly converted from the midfielder’s cutback.
Aaron Ramsdale favoured once again
The position in the starting eleven generating discussion from Arsenal fans before kick-off was who would start between the sticks.
Bernd Leno was viewed as the Gunners number one less than a month ago, but Aaron Ramsdale continued his run of Premier League appearances – the biggest game of his Arsenal career thus far.
Given Leno was selected for the midweek Carabao Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon – it was perhaps obvious summer signing Ramsdale would return for a game of far higher magnitude.
The former Sheffield United keeper continues to offer something his German counterpart doesn’t with his composed passing allowing Arsenal a better chance of beating the Spurs press.
His skillset was very much on display for Arsenal’s second, as the 23-year-old played a dangerous pass into the feet of Xhaka – who was fortunate to turn his man and spark a stunning counter attack finished off by their skipper.
Spurs’ central defensive duo
Despite forking out a combined fee of nearly £55m on Joe Rodon and Cristian Romero, both were benched in favour of much-maligned duo Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier.
A risky decision from Nuno in such a high-stakes affair, and it proved to backfire as Sanchez in particular was targeted by Arsenal’s leading man Aubameyang.
The defending on show in the Spurs penalty area for Arsenal’s opener will give Santo nightmares – Smith Rowe given the freedom of the box to finish beyond the helpless Hugo Lloris.
Sanchez and Dier were torn apart by sheer pace for Arsenal’s second, the Colombian central-defender unable to catch Smith Rowe in full flight before Aubameyang lashed home to further the hosts lead.
Harry Kane’s rut continues
After a summer of intense speculation surrounding the England skipper’s future, Tottenham ’s talisman has been a shadow of his usual self for the opening exchanges of the league season.
Kane had mustered just four attempts on goal in Spurs’ four opening games – let alone come close to finding the back of the net.
His poor form continued in the North London derby, with the opening twenty minutes of the game passing Kane by with just two touches of the ball.
The England skipper was heavily involved in Arsenal’s third goal, as he slipped while in posession to spark the counter attack before his lung-busting run back to his own area was in vain as his slide-tackle rebounded back into the path of Saka who made no mistake.
His best chance came just after the hour mark, though his deft chip over Ramsdale landed centimetres wide of the post.