If Arsenal are to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2004, they may well look back to the dramatic victory over Manchester United as the moment where their name started to be engraved on the coveted silver trophy.
In a thriller at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Mikel Arteta’s side ended Man Utd’s ten-match unbeaten run with a 90th-minute Eddie Nketiah goal securing a 3-2 win. The victory saw them move five points clear of Manchester City with a game in hand at the top of the table. Earlier in the day City had closed the gap to two points with Erling Haaland scoring a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Wolves.
Following the “emotional” battle against the Red Devils, in which his side came back from 1-0 down, Gunners head coach Arteta said “it doesn’t get much better than that”. After the derby win against Tottenham last week, “to come here against this team” and “play the way we played”, the performance was “incredible”, the Spaniard told Sky Sports. “To win it in that way makes it even better.”
Arsenal ‘will be champions’
Aware that Man City were “on their shoulders” after beating Wolves, a draw would “hardly have been disastrous” for Arsenal coming against Erik ten Hag’s “improving” United team, said Phil McNulty on BBC Sport. But the whole mood in the Emirates was “lifted sky high” by Nketiah’s “last-gasp intervention” and the “celebrations on and off the pitch” at the final whistle “showed the huge significance” of the late winner.
The “pressure is on City to reel them in”, but this Arsenal side are “playing without fear and nerves”, said Mark Ogden on ESPN. Of course, “both may come”, but right now they are “showing the same kind of carefree form that propelled Leicester to the title in 2016”. Unless City can beat them in their first league meeting at the Emirates on 15 February, “it will become increasingly difficult” to see how anyone can stop Arsenal from winning the title.
In the eyes of those who have seen them “wilt under pressure in recent years”, Arsenal are having to “prove themselves on a weekly basis”, McNulty added on the BBC. Why should there be “lingering doubts” about the “pedigree” of a team that have won 16 and only lost one of their first 19 league games?
Arsenal “will be champions”, said Jonathan Liew in The Guardian. “It’s about time someone committed this to print.” Arteta and Co “will not say it themselves”, they may “not even yet believe it themselves”, but there is “not a better or more complete team in England”.
Arsenal ‘won’t win the league’
Ex-City assistant Arteta insists that his former club are still the team to beat. The Arsenal boss has “been at pains not to acknowledge” his team’s position as title favourites, said the Daily Mail, and is adamant that Pep Guardiola’s squad, “who have won four of the previous five championships”, remain “a cut above”.
With 50 points from their opening 19 games, Arsenal may have a five-point lead, and a game in hand on their title rivals, but City under Guardiola are a “massive powerhouse” and you can imagine them sitting there “not being too fazed by this”, said Gary Neville on Sky Sports. The reason he believes that Arsenal “won’t win the league” is because “they’ve not won it for 20 years” and the majority of the players “haven’t won it yet”. Neville doesn’t see the Gunners going on to win the title, “I still think Man City will” and feels the defending champions “have a special run in them”.