Arsenal's future under Mikel Arteta will not always allow them to play big games against complicit and haphazard opposition like this. Nuno Espirito Santo's Tottenham team had a poor performance in the north London derby. Arsenal, on the other hand, were fantastic. Mikel Arteta finally got a glimpse of the fearless, expansive, and effective football he had promised to deliver. All that's left for the Spaniard to do now is deliver some more of it.
Arsenal won by a score of 3-1 in the end, but the margin felt larger. It certainly felt more meaningful in terms of the teams' respective travel paths. For Arteta's team, there could have been a lot more. Arsenal took the lead in 34 first-half minutes, playing with an executioner's hunger and sending the Emirates into a rapturous frenzy. It's been a long time since it's shook and swayed like this. All that stood between Tottenham and one of the biggest derby thrashings in recent memory was their own second-half improvement – it wasn't difficult to get better – and perhaps a slight lapse in mental application on the part of the players in red.
Arteta may talk to his players about that at some point in the days to come. But today was a day to focus solely on the positives, to marvel at the expressive directness of young players like Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, as well as Norwegian Martin Odegaard. All three players were outstanding, as was the other goal scorer, captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, in patches.
The three Arsenal goals – Smith Rowe followed by Aubameyang and then Saka – were scored on the break and were all the more exciting for it. Spurs were truly awful during this period, with forward Harry Kane a picture of frustrated waywardness, and their new Portuguese coach looked as lost and helpless on the touchline as his players. Nuno was rumored to be Spurs' sixth or seventh option for the position, and he certainly looked the part.
Tottenham simply invited Arsenal to play for the first half of the game. As a result, they played. They did so with zeal, speed, and courage, as well as, crucially, clinical precision. Since Arsene Wenger's great middle years, we have rarely seen a destructive instinct like this.
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