By Martyn Herman LONDON (Reuters) -Arsenal meted out their usual punishment to north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at The Emirates with Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka all on target in a 3-1 win to stay top of the Premier League on Saturday. Spurs’ Emerson Royal only added to the visitors’ misery when he […]
Soccer-Arsenal stay top with derby win as Tottenham self-destruct
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) -Arsenal meted out their usual punishment to north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at The Emirates with Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka all on target in a 3-1 win to stay top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Spurs’ Emerson Royal only added to the visitors’ misery when he was sent off in the second half for a reckless tackle on Gabriel Martinelli.
Harry Kane’s first-half equaliser for Tottenham saw him set yet more scoring records, but his side self-destructed after halftime as their 12-year wait for a league win in the fixture continued.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have now won seven of their opening eight games and lead the standings by four points with second-placed Manchester City facing Man Utd on Sunday.
An absorbing derby with top-spot up for grabs was evenly poised after Partey’s sublime 20th minute opener was cancelled out by Kane’s penalty just past the half-hour mark — making him the first player to score 100 away goals in the Premier League.
But Arsenal were gifted back the lead in the 49th minute when a dreadful mix-up between Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and defender Cristian Romero allowed Jesus the easiest of tap-ins.
Royal was then red-carded in the 62nd minute for a needless kick out at Martinelli deep in Arsenal’s half, and five minutes later Xhaka swept in Arsenal’s third to leave Tottenham reeling.
There was a celebratory mood around the stadium after that as Arsenal moved to 21 points.
Previously unbeaten Tottenham could have gone top with a win but have now managed only one victory in their last 30 league visits to Arsenal. They are third with 17 points.
Tottenham will complain about the harsh decision to send off Royal, but they can have no complaints about the result as they again underperformed away at their fierce rivals.
They have lost five of their last six league matches away to Arsenal despite finishing above them for the past six seasons.
“From the first second I think we were the better team,” Xhaka said. “After we conceded we were struggling a little bit, but in the second half we were much better, and I am so happy to score my first derby goal and help the team to win.”
A typically frantic start to the game saw Gabriel Martinelli hit the outside of the post for Arsenal while at the other end fellow Brazilian Richarlison was denied by Aaron Ramsdale.
Partey was an injury doubt ahead of the game but produced a moment of stunning quality to put his side in front.
Ben White rolled the ball across to him outside the area and the Ghana midfielder curled a right-footer beyond Lloris’s dive.
Tottenham looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Ivan Perisic lashed a good chance wide shortly before Richarlison was fouled in the area by Gabriel.
From the penalty spot, Kane calmly beat Ramsdale down the middle for a record-extending 15th goal in the north London derby and 44th in London derbies overall, taking him past Thierry Henry’s record of 43.
For a while Arsenal were rattled and Tottenham looked increasingly confident, but everything changed after the interval.
Tottenham began the second half in sloppy fashion, and when Bukayo Saka fired in a shot, Lloris parried it out to Romero who bundled the ball back towards his keeper, only for it to squirm out of the Frenchman’s grasp just enough for Jesus to convert.
It was a sweet moment for the Brazilian, whose fifth goal of the season sent a reminder to his national side’s manager Tite, who left him out of the squad last month.
Tottenham then imploded after Royal’s sending off, and Arsenal’s Xhaka, back in his home crowd’s favour again, beat Lloris with a low shot after a Martinelli dribble, persuading a trickle of Tottenham fans to begin heading home early.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)