Controversial goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal their first Premier League success against Tottenham for over three years as the Gunners won 2-0 in a heated north London derby on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s side ended a six-match winless run against their hated rivals thanks to a pair of fiercely debated first-half goals at the Emirates Stadium.
Tottenham were furious that referee Mike Dean awarded a free-kick for Davinson Sanchez’s challenge on Alexis Sanchez and their indignation grew louder when, from the resulting set-piece, Mustafi headed Arsenal’s opener from what the visitors claimed was an offside position.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men felt hard done by again when Sanchez doubled Arsenal’s lead by converting a pass from Alexandre Lacazette, who looked offside in the build-up to the goal.
Arsenal’s first league win over Tottenham since March 2014 was a welcome tonic after their chastening loss at leaders Manchester City before the international break.
Arsenal move within one point of Tottenham and, even if City remain a distant speck on the horizon, proving the balance of power in north London hasn’t completely shifted to their neighbours was cause enough for jubilation among Gunners fans.
Having finished above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years last season, Tottenham missed a chance to underline their ascendency and remain without a win at the Emirates since 2010.
It was a major blow to their title hopes and Pochettino must be concerned that Harry Kane and Dele Alli looked rusty after missing England’s friendlies due to injury.
When Kane wasted his only decent chance in the opening moments – firing too close to Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech – it was a sign of the angst to come for Tottenham.
Despite a largely frustrating time in 2017, Arsenal remain a potent force on home turf, where they have now won their last 11 league games.
“They had the urgency, the desire and the focus,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of his players.
“In a derby like that, that plays a part. We didn’t lose the defensive focus for 90 minutes.”
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino felt, with justification, that the free-kick that led to Mustafi’s goal should not have been awarded and that Mustafi had been offside.
“You saw what happened during the game,” Pochettino told Sky Sports at the Emirates Stadium.
“I’m disappointed because the small details were against us, which makes it difficult to win.”
City, Chelsea win
Manchester City retained control of the Premier League title race after fine goals by Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne secured a 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday.
Jesus and De Bruyne struck either side of half-time at the King Power Stadium as Pep Guardiola’s ruthless side registered a 16th successive victory in all competitions.
Champions Chelsea climbed to second place with a 4-0 win at West Bromwich Albion in which Eden Hazard scored twice, while Arsenal engineered an impressive 2-0 win over derby rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
City provisionally moved nine points clear at the top of the table, although Manchester United can trim their lead back to eight points if they beat Newcastle United in the day’s late game.
City captain Vincent Kompany made his first league start since August following his latest calf injury, but fellow centre-back John Stones was forced off in the first half with an apparent hamstring problem.
Jesus tapped in David Silva’s pass on the stroke of half-time after a slick move involving De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
De Bruyne added a brilliant second four minutes into the second half when he completed an electrifying break by rifling a glorious left-foot shot into the top-left corner from outside the area.
Chelsea piled the pressure on West Brom manager Tony Pulis with a breezy win at The Hawthorns, where Antonio Conte’s side secured the title last season.
Alvaro Morata put Chelsea ahead in the 17th minute after Ben Foster saved from Hazard and the Spaniard’s flick freed Hazard to round Foster and double the visitors’ advantage six minutes later.
Marcos Alonso slammed home at the back post from Cesc Fabregas’s free-kick in the 38th minute and Hazard completed the scoring just after the hour.
Liverpool level with Arsenal
Liverpool are level on points with Arsenal in fifth after a routine 3-0 home win over Southampton at Anfield.
Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah scored two first-half goals – the first a magnificent curler – to become the Premier League’s leading scorer on nine goals, with Philippe Coutinho adding a third.
High-flying Burnley also sit on 22 points after Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes scored in a 2-0 home win over second-bottom Swansea City.
Bottom club Crystal Palace were twice pegged back in a lively 2-2 home draw with Everton, for whom David Unsworth remains in charge on a caretaker basis.