Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-1 to win the first north London derby of the season, as Mikel Arteta’s side ran riot in the first half at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners went into the break 3-0 up after they stunned Spurs with a frantic start, with Emile Smith-Rowe grabbing the opening goal before assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in beautiful classic counter attack.
Bukayo Saka capitalised on a slip from England teammate Harry Kane to weave into the Tottenham area and score a third before the end of the half, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were dismantled.
Tottenham pushed in the second half and finally found the breakthrough as Aaron Ramsdale couldn’t keep out Heung Min Son’s effort, but it was only a consolation.
It was an excellent game for Arsenal and a much needed boost for Arteta, and Daily Star Sport analyses what the Gunners boss got right and wrong against Tottenham…
What Arteta got right…
Pressing from the start
It was always likely to be a lively start to the north London derby, but Arteta’s side were fired up and ready, and Tottenham were not prepared for the waves of onslaught that Arsenal were going to throw at them.
From the first whistle Arteta’s side controlled the game, won every second ball, and overwhelmed Tottenham in every area which led to an early lead, which set the tone for the rest of the half.
Arsenal harassed Tottenham, and forced errors out of Kane, Davinson Sanchez and Dele Alli, and their clinical counter attacking goal summarised the difference in class during the first half.
Tottenham weren’t expecting the fiery start that Arsenal made, and it cost them dearly as Arteta perfectly anticipated that Spurs would be vulnerable from kick off.
Playing Smith-Rowe out wide
Smith-Rowe was unplayable throughout the 90 minutes and produced one of his best ever performances in an Arsenal shirt, and Arteta’s decision to start his out on the wing was key to the Gunners excellent first half display.
The new Arsenal no.10 has played in a variety of roles across Arteta’s front line, but was placed very wide out on the left against Tottenham, and caused Japhet Tanganga all kinds of issues before he was substituted.
The 21-year-old midfielder was previously part of a packed midfield with Martin Odegaard in Arsenal’s last Premier League game, but Arteta decided to move him wide for the north London derby, and it was a brilliant decision.
If Smith-Rowe continues to perform as well as he did in Sunday’s game, it’s likely Arteta will stick with him out wide.
Will Emile Smith-Rowe bring success to Arsenal? Comment below
Playing Odegaard solo through the middle
Odegaard was allowed complete freedom by Arteta as the Norwegian operated as Arsenal’s solo attacking midfielder, and their freedom in attack was too much to handle for Tottenham.
The 22-year-old scored in a 1-0 win over Burnley in the last Premier League game, but both Smith-Rowe and the summer signing started in central midfield alongside one another.
Although on the day it worked, it was crowded and compact, and Arteta decided to completely free up the midfield for the clash against Tottenham which worked wonders.
Odegaard looked comfortable in the role, and demonstrated exactly what he has to offer in front of the Arsenal crowd.
Granit Xhaka was thrown straight into the starting line up as his suspension was finally lifted following the red card he received against Manchester City.
Arsenal’s form actually picked up while Xhaka was out of the team, but they needed a strong midfield for the Tottenham game and the Swiss international had a great game alongside Thomas Partey.
A bit of aggression is needed in a derby of this calibre, and Xhaka certainly doesn’t shy away from challenges against Tottenham, as the midfielder has picked up six yellow cards in ten matches against Spurs.
It was Arsenal’s attacking players that blew Tottenham away, but Xhaka and Partey were vital as a base in the heart of midfield, and helped control the game.
Unfortunately for Xhaka and Arsenal, the midfielder went off injured with a nasty knock with ten minutes to play, with no news on the extent of the injury just yet.
What Arteta got wrong…
Not seeing out the clean sheet
It was almost the perfect day for Arteta, but a late goal from Son unsettled the home side for the final ten minutes, which slightly masked the north London party at the Emirates.
Tottenham were outclassed for the entirety of the game but still managed to score past Aaron Ramsdale, as he couldn’t keep out the Korean’s effort, creating a slightly nervous end to the game.
Thankfully for Arteta, Spurs failed to build any momentum from the goal, but it will be an area of concern for the Gunners boss as the best sides see out a clean sheet when dominating.
Ramsdale also pulled off a brilliant save following a Lucas Moura effort just minutes from the final whistle, otherwise the scoreline could’ve been even closer despite Arsenal clearly getting the better of Spurs.