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Premier League: Derby triumph for Arsenal

Arsenal strengthened their position at the top of the Premier League with Saturday's dominant north London derby success over fierce rivals Tottenham at the Emirates.

Many had begun to question the Gunners' credentials against the Premier League's elite after a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford in early September.

However, Mikel Arteta's men responded with a 3-0 win at Brentford prior to the international break and were more than up for the challenge against their biggest adversaries, Spurs.

Arsenal ran out convincing 3-1 winners at the Emirates thanks to goals from Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka.

Tottenham had been reduced to ten men when trailing 2-1 after Emerson Royal saw red for a reckless challenge on Gabriel Martinelli. But it would be hasty to say that dismissal had any impact on the outcome as they enjoyed 65 per cent possession and won the shot count 22 to seven.

Arsenal have now won seven of their opening eight games and have stretched their lead over Tottenham, who remain third, to five points. However, title favourites Manchester City can bridge the gap on Arsenal to just one point by beating Manchester United at the Etihad on Sunday.

Xhaka's improved form evident in north London derby success

Antonio Conte's team were second best from the off, a comment supported in the post-match comments by Xhaka who told BT Sport: "From the first second we were the better team.

The Switzerland international, who has become a fans’ favourite having once been an outcast, added: "My first derby goal in England. I'm more than happy to help the team. The team is the most important thing."

Arsenal are growing in stature and so has Xhaka this season, especially since being pushed into a more forward position, rewarding his team with two goals and three assists from nine appearances this term.

Xhaka has reinvented himself as an attack-minded midfielder and has found some discipline that was once missing from his game, too, which is enabling his younger team-mates to blossom.

There is still work to be done but Arsenal look like a club and a team who finally have a clear direction and the patience put in Arteta is starting to pay off.

Liverpool clash will provide more insight

WhatArsenal v Liverpool
WhereEmirates Stadium, London
When16:30, Sunday 9th October 2022
How to watchLive on Sky Sports Main Event & Premier League
OddsArsenal 8/5, Draw 13/5, Liverpool 6/4

Next up for a much-improved Arsenal is a visit from Liverpool next Sunday and that heavyweight tussle will provide more information as to how far the Gunners have progressed.

Arsenal have failed to win any of their last seven meetings with Liverpool in 90 minutes and, in fact, have not scored against the Reds in any of their last six encounters.

But Arteta's Londoners have won seven of their eight Premier League matches - that includes all four outings in the capital this season - and they will be buoyed by the recent performances of Liverpool.

However, there is no denying the amount of world-class talent Liverpool possess, and Arsenal did finish fifth last season so many may feel they still have something to prove.

Back to the drawing board for Spurs

WhatBrighton v Tottenham
WhereAmex Stadium, Brighton
When17:30, Saturday 8 October 2022
How to watchLive on Sky Sports Main Event & Premier League
OddsBrighton 2/1, Draw 12/5, Tottenham 13/10

It was Tottenham's first defeat of the season at the eighth attempt at Arsenal so they can't be written off just yet, but it was further evidence that there is still plenty of work to be done.

Spurs have now conceded ten goals in those eight games - keeping just two clean sheets - and in any fixture have rarely had things go all their own way.

In fact, Spurs have been digging out results without being pleasing on the eye and, although they had their moments briefly after Harry Kane's penalty equaliser, Conte is still searching for the missing piece of the jigsaw.

The Italian manager will demand a positive response but there are considerably easier places to go than next Saturday's trip to Brighton, who have taken seven points from three home games this term.

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