Is Arsenal back? Mikel Arteta’s side showed few flaws in a 3-1 London derby victory over Tottenham Hotspur, which allowed the Gunners to leapfrog their rivals in the Premier League standings. Arsenal dominated the first half en route to a 3-0 halftime lead and then held on in the second half for its third straight win.
Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka were the scorers in that overpowering first half during which the home side played with energy and desire, winning the battles in every zone of the field. The Arsenal back line was solid, the goalkeeping was surehanded, the midfield’s transition passing was crisp and the forwards were dynamic with their runs. All three goals were similar in the quickness and ruthlessness of the sweeping attacking moves.
Smith Rowe finished a cross from Bukayo Saka for the first goal. Then Smith Rowe turned supplier for Aubameyang as the Gunners doubled their lead. Saka’s goal and Arsenal’s third was a solo effort and it had the Emirates rocking.
“It’s probably the best day of my life,” Smith Rowe said in his postgame interview. “I’ve always dreamt of this day to score for Arsenal against Tottenham. With my family here as well, it’s the best feeling ever.”
Spurs should’ve had a penalty kick early in the second half after an ineffective Harry Kane was brought down, but the always-lively Son Heung-min eventually pulled one back to make the latter stages somewhat interesting. Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale avoided late drama with a tip save off the crossbar on a shot by Lucas Moura, who made his return to the lineup after an injury absence.
“We started really strong, really convinced, really determined,” Arteta said postgame. “It’s probably one of the best games that I’ve seen us play for that period in the first half. And in the second half we had to do what we had to do. So pleased to win the game.”
Things are looking up for Arsenal and its manager Arteta, who was under fire after starting the season with three straight losses. The Gunners have now won three straight to move up to 10th place (9 points). It’s been the opposite experience for Spurs (11th place, 9 points), who opened with three wins under new coach Nuno Espirito Santo and have now succumbed to three consecutive defeats, conceding three goals on each occasion.
“The performance was not good, the game plan was not good, the decisions were not good. It was definitely not a good day for us,” Espirito Santo said postgame. “When you have a game plan you have to make the right decisions in terms of who you want on the pitch to develop that game plan … the game plan was not according to the players who were on the pitch.”
“It is not about winning, it was the way we’ve done it against a tough team with top players and in the most special day of the season when we play our rivals,” Arsenal’s Arteta continued. “Today is one example of what we’re trying to do. Now we have to be consistent with every game and do it better.”
Arsenal vs. Tottenham final score
ARS — Emile Smith Rowe (Bukayo Saka) — 12th min.
ARS — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Smith Rowe) — 27th min.
ARS — Bukayo Saka — 34th min.
TOT — Son Heung-min (Sergio Reguilon) — 79th min.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham updates & highlights
(All times Eastern)
Final: Arsenal 3, Tottenham 1
Final: Arsenal deserves the win for an overwhelming first half and a competent second half, although it was clearly more vulnerable at 3-0. Spurs should’ve had a penalty shortly after the break which would’ve made the game more interesting, and Gunners ‘keeper Aaron Ramsdale needed to come up with two big saves. But the overall signs from an Arsenal perspective are positive. It’s back to the drawing board for Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who still can’t find a way to get the best out of star striker Harry Kane.
92nd min.: Chance for Spurs! Lucas Moura with a dipping shot and Aaron Ramsdale tips it off the Arsenal bar. Incredible save to avoid a frantic finish for Arsenal.
91st min.: Five minutes of stoppage time. In the first of those minutes, Albert Lokonga is booked for pulling down Bryan Gil.
87th min.: SUB – Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe come off for Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nuno Tavares. Just a few minutes left for Arsenal to see this one out. Tottenham is not creating much danger in recent minutes.
81st min.: Spurs’ momentum is interrupted by an injury to Granit Xhaka, who’s subbed off for Albert Sambi Lokonga. Lucas Moura fell onto Xhaka’s leg and it required a lengthy spell of treatment.
79th min.: Tottenham pulls one back! Son Heung-min hits a Reguilon cross into the corner.
74th min.: Fantastic effort from Saka, who curls a left-footed shot from the right which goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has to parry away for a corner. After a good spell from Spurs to start the second half, Arsenal is threatening again.
69th min.: SUB – Spurs’ Bryan Gil comes on for Tanguy Ndombele, who was overmatched on the day in midfield and never got into a rhythm.
67th min.: Minutes after Granit Xhaka should’ve received a yellow card, it’s Spurs’ Oliver Skipp who gets it for a lunge at the feet of Bukayo Saka.
63rd min.: Another big chance for Harry Kane! Ball over the top, and he controls it and lifts it toward goal, but barely misses wide right.
61st min.: What a stop by Arsenal’s Ramsdale. Harry Kane with the low, angled blast, but Ramsdale tips it wide. Great effort by both players. Spurs can’t create any danger from the ensuing corner.
57th min.: Wow. Clear penalty not awarded to Spurs. Ben White fouled Harry Kane at the top of the Arsenal box, but there was no whistle and the VAR did not signal a clear and obvious error. That call would’ve been huge for Spurs early in this second half.
55th min.: Great move by Tanguy Ndombele in the Arsenal box, but there’s Takehiro Tomiyasu again to neutralize the danger.
54th min.: Arsenal again crossing and passing at will. Spurs clear the ball near their goal line, but the Gunners want a penalty for a Davinson Sanchez foul on Gabriel in the box. No penalty forthcoming.
52nd min.: Arsenal right back Takehiro Tomiyasu with an excellent start to this second half. Also wins a ball and launches an attack.
46th min.: Two subs for Spurs. Emerson Royal comes in at right back for Japhet Tanganga, while Oliver Skipp replaces Dele Alli in midfield.
Halftime: Arsenal 3, Tottenham 0
Halftime: Not much more that Arsenal could’ve done better in that half. Solid defending, great touches and transition passing in midfield, and inspired runs in the attack. Tottenham is nowhere close when it comes to intensity and Spurs are constantly getting beat to most balls. Lucas Moura is not in the game, Dele Alli is invisible, and Harry Kane looks deflated. Son Heung-min is the only player with something to offer. Tough to see how Spurs come back.
Probably the best 45 minutes of football from Arsenal in Mikel Arteta’s tenure.
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) September 26, 2021
38th min.: Harry Kane is really hearing it from the Emirates crowd today. His header on a set piece is just off the mark and the crowd jeers.
34th min.: It’s 3-0 for Arsenal! Harry Kane with the giveaway this time and Arsenal just passes its way into Spurs’ half. Saka’s first shot is blocked by a sliding Kane and he picks up the loose ball himself to finish.
27th min.: Another Arsenal goal! On a quick transition, Aubameyang feeds Smith Rowe, who returns the ball in the box and it’s an expert finish by the Gunners’ forward. Tottenham wanted a foul called earlier on the play, but VAR is not taking this one back.
24th min.: Desperate long-distance shot from Harry Kane that’s way off the mark. Not a good sign for Spurs.
22nd min.: Spurs’ only chances are coming off turnovers and they got one off Martin Odegaard. Son Heung-min puts the shot on target and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale saves for a corner that Arsenal handles.
17th min.: It’s all Arsenal to start. Less than a minute after the Partey shot, Aubameyang fires a blast that just misses the target. That was close.
16th min.: Another chance for Arsenal! This time the Gunners are just knocking the ball around the Spurs’ box and Partey ends the move with a shot that Hugo Lloris saves for a corner. Nothing comes of it.
15th min.: Response by Tottenham comes from a cross by Sergio Reguilon, but he misses Harry Kane in the box and Arsenal clears.
12th min.: Goal Arsenal! Great cross from the right from Saka and he picks out a run into the box by Smith Rowe, who started the match wide left. It was an easy finish. Great start by Arsenal and just reward for the Gunners’ play.
Emile Smith Rowe has scored 9 goals for Arsenal’s first team and his side have won every game he has scored in so far.
Looking good for the Gunners. 🧨 pic.twitter.com/IB2JQxpXrq
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 26, 2021
⚽️ Emile Smith Rowe (21 years, 60 days) is Arsenal’s youngest scorer in a PL North London derby since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in Sept 2014 pic.twitter.com/Vskq2N4Dym
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 26, 2021
7th min.: Smith Rowe down the left with a great cross into the box, but Aubameyang ruled offside. Good build-up from Arsenal.
6th min.: Surrounded by four defenders, Tottenham’s Son gets a shot off, but he was offside the whole way.
3rd min.: Sloppy start, but Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White and Bukayo Saka come up with winning tackles to rev up the crowd.
1st min.: And we’re off.
📊 Harry Kane makes his 250th PL app – only 3 players (Shearer, Aguero & Henry) have scored more goals after as many PL apps
Hugo Lloris makes his 19th PL app v Arsenal, equalling Ray Parlour’s record for most PL North London derby apps for one club pic.twitter.com/4fvA74oWg6
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 26, 2021
11:29 a.m.: We’re just about ready. Teams are on the pitch:
11:19 a.m.: Thierry Henry in the retro jersey at the Emirates:
10:58 a.m.: What Arsenal fans are looking forward to:
— Pain In The Arsenal (@PainInThArsenal) September 26, 2021
10:52 a.m.: Mikel Arteta pregame wants his young team to manage its emotions during this derby. Easier said than done:
10:51 a.m.: Sights and sounds from the Emirates ahead of warmups:
9:53 a.m.: So Granit Xhaka, back from a three-game suspension, is apparently getting the start.
8:45 a.m.: Arsenal ‘keeper Aaron Ramsdale sounds like the confident type:
8:26 a.m.: The early scene outside the Emirates:
7:15 a.m.: No doubt there will be some that will call for Mikel Arteta to be fired if he doesn’t win this game. But it’s the performance that should matter more than the result. Arsenal has been improving:
7:14 a.m.: Give Harry Kane time, says Nuno:
“We know what we have, It’s just a matter of time.”
Nuno Espirito Santo remains patient with Harry Kane and knows he is one of the better players in the world pic.twitter.com/JumUjZWNBP
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 26, 2021
6:47 a.m.: Derby day has already started for some folks on the west coast:
6:45 a.m.: It’s a great day for some. For others:
Feel sick for every second of derby day then just relieved when it’s over… followed by spending the next three days either watching it back micro-analysing every beautiful element or avoiding all football entirely and hiding under a rock. #ARSTOT #COYS
— Ben Haines (@benhainess) September 26, 2021
Arsenal vs. Tottenham lineups
Mikel Arteta has a full-strength squad available to him with the return from suspension of Granit Xhaka and he’s throwing Xhaka right back into the starting lineup after serving his three-game suspension.
Among the other big decisions, Nicolas Pepe starts on the bench as Bukayo Saka is preferred on the right wing.
Arsenal starting lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): 32-Aaron Ramsdale-GK — 3-Kieran Tierney, 6-Gabriel, 4-Ben White, 18-Takehiro Tomiyasu — 6-Thomas Partey, 34-Granit Xhaka — 10-Emile Smith Rowe, 8-Martin Odegaard, 7-Bukayo Saka — 14-Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal subs (9): 1-Bernd Leno-GK, 16-Rob Holding, 17-Cedric, 20-Nuno Tavares, 23-Albert Sambi Lokonga, 15-Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 19-Nicolas Pepe, 9-Alexandre Lacazette, 35-Gabriel Martinelli
The Tottenham squad is not at full health, but close to it. Lucas Moura is available for the derby and will start even after his recent layoff. Steven Bergwijn (ankle) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) are still out. Japhet Tanganga is preferred over Emerson Royal at right back.
Tottenham starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Hugo Lloris-GK — 3-Sergio Reguilon, 15-Eric Dier, 6-Davinson Sanchez, 25-Japhet Tanganga — 20-Dele Alli, 5-Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, 28-Tanguy Ndombele — 27-Lucas Moura, 10-Harry Kane, 7-Son Heung-min
Tottenham subs (9): 22-Pierluigi Gollini-GK, 4-Cristian Romero, 12-Emerson Royal, 14-Joe Rodon, 33-Ben Davies, 29-Oliver Skipp, 11-Bryan Gil, 18-Giovani Lo Celso, 44-Dane Scarlett