ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • Arsenal won an explosive north London derby as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's brace and Alexandre Lacazette's strike inspired a 4-2 win over bitter rivals Tottenham yesterday.
Unai Emery's side extended their unbeaten run to 19 matches in all competitions after fighting back from 2-1 down in arguably the Premier League's game of the season so far.
It was only Arsenal's second win in the last nine league north London derbies and, while stealing local bragging rights is always sweet, this felt like a significant moment for Emery's team.
Asked if Arsenal are a different beast under Emery, he said: "Yeah, I think so. We can see always, we never give up and that's the mentality. The most important is the present, we are looking to continue this run. We are still winning games and we just have to keep going."
This stirring comeback was exactly the kind of statement of intent Arsenal needed as they moved above Tottenham into fourth place on goal difference.
Biting into challenges and harrying Tottenham into panicked mistakes, Arsenal made a blistering start and their relentless tempo paid dividends in the 10th minute.
Jan Vertonghen jumped with Shkodran Mustafi as they challenged for a corner and the Belgian's raised arm clearly made contact with the ball as he tried to block the Arsenal defender's header. Referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty and Aubameyang sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot.
Despite being dominated for the opening half hour, Tottenham snatched a 30th-minute equaliser as the derby reached fever pitch.
Christian Eriksen's inswinging free kick caught Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka flat-footed and Eric Dier nipped in to head past Bernd Leno's weak attempted save.
Dier celebrated by holding his finger to his mouth to indicate the Arsenal fans should keep quiet and his inflammatory gesture quickly sparked a touchline brawl.
Arsenal substitutes Stephan Lichtsteiner and Aaron Ramsey took exception to Dier's taunting, prompting a bout of pushing and shoving.
The goal and subsequent fracas sparked Tottenham into life and, four minutes later, they were ahead. Son Heung-min's pace was too much for Arsenal to handle and Rob Holding responded by making a rash sliding challenge on the South Korean in the penalty area.
There was only minimal contact but Son fell to the turf and, to Arsenal's fury, Dean pointed to the spot. Harry Kane lashed home the penalty. Arsenal's sense of injustice spurred them on and Emery responded by sending on Ramsey and Lacazette, back from a groin injury, at half-time.
They proved inspired moves as Gabon forward Aubameyang conjured a majestic equaliser in the 56th minute before Lacazette's miscued shot took a deflection off Dier and trickled past Lloris in the 74th minute.
Lucas Torreira delivered the knockout blow three minutes later, running on to Aubameyang's pass and firing low into the far corner.
There was still time for Vertonghen to see red for an 85th-minute lunge on Lacazette that rounded off Arsenal's perfect afternoon.