Three talking points from Arsenal's derby-day victory over Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal closed to within a point of Tottenham Hotspur thanks to a comfortable victory over their fierce north London rivals at the Emirates.
The Gunners never looked back once Shkodran Mustafi had headed them into a 36th-minute lead, with Alexis Sanchez netting a second shortly before half-time.
Victory maintained Arsenal’s 100 per cent home record in the Premier League this season and eased the pressure on under-fire manager Arsene Wenger.
Tottenham meanwhile, stumbled to their second defeat in three matches, which leaves them 11 points adrift of table-topping Manchester City.
Here are three talking points as Arsenal claimed the derby-day bragging rights…
Timely relief for embattled Wenger
Seemingly not a week goes by without somebody calling for the Frenchman to resign.
To much consternation among supporters, Wenger penned a new two-year contract in the summer and looks certain to see it through. He needs results to affirm his authority, of course, and they don’t get much bigger for Gunners fans than a victory over Spurs.
Arsenal have been superb at home this season and they showed once again that they can be a match for anyone. Some will argue they caught Tottenham on a bad day, but the intensity the Gunners showed never allowed the visitors to get into their stride.
They failed to qualify for the Champions League last season, but it would be foolish to write them off this time. Wenger’s squad possesses a huge amount of talent and they are more than capable of finishing in the top four.
Away-day condundrum for Pochettino
Tottenham’s record at the Emirates is poor – they have won only once in their 12 visits to the Emirates – but of greater concern to Pochettino will be their impotency on the road against fellow ‘big-six’ teams.
They lost 1-0 to Manchester United last month and failed to score again here. It was a similar story last season, despite finishing as runners-up.
While they often blow away lesser sides, Spurs routinely struggle to reproduce free-flowing performances in more tactical affairs.
Pochettino is rightly regarded as one of the top managers in football and the Champions League victory over Real Madrid a couple of weeks ago will live long in the memory.
Nonetheless, he is yet to win a trophy with Spurs and the Premier League title already looks beyond them. If success is measured in silverware, then Pochettino still has much to prove.
Arsenal’s unsettled duo light up the Emirates
There is no doubt the contract impasse involving Sanchez and Mesut Ozil has acted as a distraction at the Emirates. However. Arsenal’s two biggest names were unleashed against Spurs and they repaid their manager with quality performances.
Sanchez scored the second goal and was a nuisance in the best possible sense, while Ozil turned in a sublime display that was reminiscent of the form his showed upon joining the club.
Whether either one will still be an Arsenal player next season remains to be seen, and despite Wenger’s insistence to the contrary, it seems unlikely.
The Arsenal manager has omitted both stars at times in this campaign and appears to be planning for life without them. Nonetheless, when at their best, Sanchez and Ozil elevate the Gunners to a rarefied level.