Three decisions Mikel Arteta got bang on as Arsenal run riot in north London derby

Mikel Arteta masterminded one of the greatest performances of his managerial tenure as Arsenal ran out 3-1 victors over Tottenham to break into the top half of the Premier League table.

First-half goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka set the Gunners on course for a famous win in the north London derby.

Smith Rowe poked in from Saka’s cross in the 12th minute before the Arsenal No.10 turned provider to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after great work from Granit Xhaka in the defensive third.

Saka then sent the Emirates into frenzy by weaving through the Spurs defence and lashing past Hugo Lloris to put Arsenal 3-0 up after just 34 minutes.

Arsenal were equally impressive in defence and it took until the 79th minute for the visitors to get on the scoresheet, with Son Heung-min netting the consolation goal.

Without further ado, here are three of Arteta’s decisions which were richly rewarded during a one-sided derby affair.

Emile Smith Rowe given nod over Nicolas Pepe

Emile Smith Rowe (pictured) and Bukayo Saka may have nailed down the wide attacking roles

While Emile Smith Rowe was handed the No.10 shirt this summer, he is fast establishing himself as Arsenal’s best option on the left wing.

Mikel Arteta chose to shuffle his forward line for the visit of Tottenham having struggled to create chances in the 1-0 win over Burnley last weekend, during which Martin Odegaard scored the winner with a free kick.

Smith Rowe was used as one of two central playmakers alongside Odegaard against the Clarets, with the 4-1-4-1 system largely failing to unlock the hosts at Turf Moor.

In response, Arteta benched Nicolas Pepe and shifted Bukayo Saka to the right so Smith Rowe could line up on the left wing against Spurs.

The 21-year-old was far more threatening in the wide role which allowed his blend of pace, vision and penetrating movement to shine.

Smith Rowe proved impossible to contain for Japhet Tanganga, who could not be sure whether the Arsenal ace would drive to the byline or cut back inside onto his stronger right foot. It was no surprise to see the Spurs right-back taken off for Emerson Royal at half-time.

The presence of left-footed Saka on the right and right-footed Smith Rowe on the left gave the Gunners brilliant balance, and the two widemen are likely to plunder plenty more goals and assists in those roles.

Granit Xhaka handed shot at redemption

Mikel Arteta reinstated Granit Xhaka to the midfield after he served his three-match suspension

Granit Xhaka was public enemy number one after his sending off in the 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City.

But Mikel Arteta trusted the Switzerland international to make an immediate return to the starting line-up for the north London derby.

Xhaka partnered the fit-again Thomas Partey in central midfield and the duo helped Arsenal stamp their authority on the midfield battle from the very first minute.

The Gunners showed more control and poise against Spurs than they had in any of their previous Premier League games this season, with Partey unflappable and Xhaka typically combative – this time in all the right ways.

The 28-year-old set his side on course to to double their lead by forcefully dispossessing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on the edge of his own penalty area. After nabbing possession, Xhaka unleashed Emile Smith Rowe down the left wing to beat Davinson Sanchez and tee-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who made no mistake.

He may be a divisive figure, but Xhaka proved yet again he is a hugely-important player for Arsenal when at his best.

Arteta will be nervously waiting for an update on the potential knee injury which saw the midfielder limp off the pitch in the closing stages.

Sticking with Aaron Ramsdale and back four

Aaron Ramsdale has cemented himself as Mikel Arteta’s No.1 ahead of Bernd Leno

Arsenal are steadily building defensive rhythm and came close to keeping their third consecutive Premier League clean sheet against Tottenham with an unchanged back four – or five including Aaron Ramsdale.

£50million signing Ben White drew criticism for his shaky debut against Brentford last month but he is growing in stature with each appearance for his new club and has formed a promising partnership with Gabriel at centre-back.

The England international is also benefiting from the physical presence of Takehiro Tomiyasu to his right, with the Japan star also producing another eye-catching performance against Spurs.

Who was your man of the match in the north London derby? Have your say in the comments.

On the occasions when Harry Kane was able to fashion chances in the second half, Aaron Ramsdale was equal to the task.

The former Sheffield United goalkeeper has quickly set about justifying his £30million price tag after joining Arsenal in transfer which was criticised by some fans at the time of its announcement.

Ramsdale made a brilliant diving save to prevent Kane pulling one back from Spurs and he was unfortunate to get beaten by Son Heung-min after getting a hand to his powerful effort. His acrobatics also prevented Lucas Moura finding the back of the net from range in added time.

There can be no doubt Ramsdale is Mikel Arteta’s No.1 ahead of Bernd Leno.

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