Arteta delivers verdict on Arsenal's win over Tottenham
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Arsenal finally kick-started their Premier League campaign on Sunday as they inflicted a 3-1 defeat on north London rivals Tottenham. The Gunners blew Spurs away in the early stages of the game and raced to a 3-0 half-time lead, before seeing the game out in the second period.
The win moved Arsenal up to 10th in the table and saw them leapfrog Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Arsenal had been rock bottom going into the international break after whimpering to three consecutive defeats at the start of the season.
Mikel Arteta’s side had suffered a shock 2-0 reverse at Brentford on the opening night of the campaign before going down to a Romelu Lukaku-inspired Chelsea by the same scoreline.
And the alarm bells started to sound after Arsenal were humbled 5-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Arteta appeared to be clinging to his job at the end of August as the pressure mounted, but the Spaniard has overseen a remarkable upturn in fortunes this month.
The Gunners finally got their first points of the season on the board with an unconvincing 1-0 victory at home to Norwich two-and-a-half weeks ago.
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They then battled to a 1-0 win at tough-to-beat Burnley, before Sunday’s north London triumph.
And Arsenal’s September resurgence has now led to former midfielder Paul Merson claiming the side can book a top-four place this season and return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 campaign – if they can keep their first-choice players healthy.
“If Arsenal keep those players fit and they play every week, they would have a chance of getting in the top four and cause problems,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“They have no Europe this season – so will have time to recover and work on the team.
“But this is Arsenal though and has been since they last won the league in 2004, since when they have never really looked like winning the league.
“The game on Sunday was their bread and butter, but if they win away at Brighton on Saturday, then I will sit up.
“But if we talk next week and they have lost at the Amex, I would not be shocked. And that is the problem – they need to get a run of games together.
“This is a good XI but, if they get injuries, they are going to struggle as there is not much after that. But from what I’ve seen the last few weeks, fair play to them.
“But how long will Thomas Partey be fit for? How long before Granit Xhaka gets five bookings and misses a game? And then an injury at centre-back.
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closing down from the front and setting an example – but where has that been?
“They have set themselves a yardstick now. They’ve put the bar there – now good teams stay at that level.
“I did not expect them to lose to Tottenham at all, as they have been very fortunate in their results so far.
“Mikel Arteta had a lot of injuries at the start of the season and what I liked about him was he went to Burnley with a very attacking team, under pressure, and he took a chance, got the ball down when they had it and played.
“And he absolutely produced in that game and they were brilliant when everyone thought they would be bullied.”
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