Arsenal’s relentless attacking performance to overpower Tottenham was a “special” moment, says Unai Emery.
His side extended their unbeaten run to 19 matches, moving above Spurs into the top four, with a display that reflected the outstanding work the Spaniard has done since succeeding Arsene Wenger.
Despite his satisfaction at beating their arch-rivals in his first north London derby, Emery has challenged his players to continue improving.
“It is a very big victory; we showed our supporters and we gave them the victory because it is a very special match against Tottenham, for us it is special also,” the Arsenal manager said.
“But above all it is three points, like against Bournemouth last weekend.
“We need to continue our process, creating our way. I want to do more.”
Arsenal’s fast start drew early reward when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them ahead from the spot after Jan Vertonghen’s handball.
Yet Spurs, against the run of play, were ahead before the break. Eric Dier glanced home Christian Eriksen’s free-kick to equalise, sparking a melee involving players from both sides with his celebrations in front of Arsenal’s fans, before Harry Kane scored from the spot after Rob Holding was penalised for a challenge on Son Heung-min.
Emery introduced Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey at the start of the second half to dramatic effect.
The Welshman set up Aubameyang’s magnificent finish and the France striker’s deflected shot beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from the edge of the area to put Arsenal ahead with 16 minutes left.
The outstanding Lucas Torreira ran clear to wrap up Arsenal’s win and Spurs’ misery was complete when Vertonghen was sent off for a foul on Lacazette.
“Until they scored the third goal I think the game was even, after that we started to pay,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
“It was difficult for the team to show the energy that we normally show.”
Arsenal revival gathers pace
The manner in which Arsenal pressed and powered Spurs into submission here was remarkable but further evidence of their transformation under Emery.
The former Sevilla and Paris St-Germain manager has galvanised the club on and off the pitch after the stale end to the Wenger era. He was a constant blur of movement in his technical area almost guiding every move by hand.
Emery has, crucially, made an instant connection with Arsenal’s fans, regularly urging them to turn up the volume at moments when the stadium threatened to go quiet.
Arsenal simply refused to give an inch to Spurs and Emery was bold when Spurs led at half-time, sending on Lacazette and Ramsey.
His side had not played well in the first half, but the changes gave them a turbo-charge.
It was said the true test of Emery’s work would come when they faced their closest rivals. This was an examination they passed with flying colours.
Spurs overpowered in their own style
Spurs and manager Mauricio Pochettino have made their name with the intensity of their attacking, pressing style backed up by obvious quality.
Here, however, they had all their own strengths turned back on them by Arsenal and almost seemed in a daze as they were swept aside in the latter stages.
Arsenal had Spurs in trouble instantly and barely let go, even when Dier and Kane somehow had the visitors going in at the interval ahead.
Spurs could not create in attack, were impotent in midfield and vulnerable at the back where Vertonghen’s uncomfortable afternoon saw him concede a penalty and receive a red card – while youngster Juan Foyth was punished for giving the ball away when Lacazette putting Arsenal in front.
They now lie outside the top four but will surely come again. Here, however, they were comprehensively outplayed.
Torreira every inch a bargain
Torreira confirmed his status as a new Arsenal hero when he advanced into the penalty area to drill in his first goal for the club and secure this outstanding victory.
The Uruguay international, a £26m buy from Sampdoria in July, celebrated his goal by throwing off his shirt in front of exultant Arsenal fans.
He is tenacious and fierce in the tackle but brings so much more with his game. He has silk as well as steel, refusing to flinch from the physical exchanges here, yet always willing to create.
Torreira may not have been the most expensive piece of business conducted in the summer market but he looks one of the smartest.
Man of the match – Lucas Torreira (Arsenal).
Arsenal show new-found resilience – key stats
- The last time Arsenal won a north London derby in the Premier League after trailing at half time was in September 2007 – a 3-1 victory.
- They have scored more second-half goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (24).
- If Premier League matches finished at half-time this season, Arsenal would be 19th in the table.
- Arsenal have found the net at least once in each of their past 23 home games against Spurs in all competitions, since a goalless draw in November 1998.
- Tottenham have dropped more points from winning positions in Premier League games against Arsenal than any side has against another in the competition (40).
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the first player to score with 10 consecutive shots on target in the Premier League since Blackburn’s Benni McCarthy in October 2007.
- Since his debut in the Premier League in February, only Mohamed Salah (20) has scored as many goals in the competition as Aubameyang (20).
- No player has scored more Premier League north London derby goals than Harry Kane, was had eight – putting him level with Emmanuel Adebayor.
A two-day break and then back to Premier League action on Wednesday.
Arsenal face another game against fierce rivals when they visit Manchester United at 20:00 GMT, while Tottenham host struggling Southampton at Wembley at the same time.