Arsenal survive Spurs fightback to boost title charge

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka (right) shoots past Tottenham's Ben Davis.[Arsenal]

Arsenal held on for a pulsating 3-2 win over arch rivals Tottenham in the north London derby to keep their grip on top spot in the Premier League on Sunday.

Bidding to stay one step ahead of Manchester City in the title race, Mikel Arteta's side silenced the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a three-goal blast before half-time.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's own goal put Arsenal ahead before Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz netted to leave Arsenal in complete control.

Cristian Romero and Son Heung-min struck for Tottenham after the interval to set up a nervous finish, but Arsenal clung on by their finger tips.

Arsenal sit four points clear of second placed City, who face struggling Nottingham Forest later on Sunday in the first of two games in hand over the Gunners.

City will clinch an unprecedented fourth successive English title if they win their last five matches.

But Arsenal are doing all they can to make Pep Guardiola's team sweat as they try to make amends for blowing an eight-point lead in last season's title race.

After the despair of a damaging home defeat against Aston Villa and a Champions League quarter-final exit to Bayern Munich, the Gunners have bounced back impressively.

Aware they have little margin for error with City chasing them, Arteta had called on his players to show their hunger for success and they responded to his challenge.

Thrashing old foes Chelsea 5-0 on Tuesday was merely the appetiser ahead of the main course Arsenal served up for 3,000 of their jubilant fans packed into one corner of the stadium.

Arsenal famously won the league twice at Tottenham's old White Hart Lane stadium, in 1971 and 2004.

The Gunners could not clinch silverware on enemy territory this time, but their fifth win in the last seven north London derbies kept them in the hunt to win the title for the first time in 20 years.

Defeat was a bitter blow for fifth-placed Tottenham, who are seven points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa with two games in hand to keep alive their fading hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

Playing for the first time since a 4-0 defeat at Newcastle 15 days ago, Tottenham should have been fresher than an Arsenal team in action four times over that period.

But it was Arsenal who emerged from the frenzied fray to snatch the lead thanks to a welcome gift from Hojbjerg.

Arsenal survive

Saka's corner curled into the six-yard box, where Hojbjerg tried to head clear in front of Arsenal's Takehiro Tomiyasu but instead diverted the ball into his own net.

Romero should have equalised when Arsenal keeper David Raya misjudged James Maddison's free-kick, allowing the defender to rise for a close-range header that he somehow guided against the post rather than into the empty net.

Mickey van de Ven thought he had drawn Tottenham level when he slammed home after Pedro Porro's shot deflected into his path, but VAR intervened to rule the centre-back was marginally offside.

Arteta's men celebrated the decision as though they had scored themselves and they were doing exactly that in the 27th minute.

Havertz floated a superb long pass to Saka on the right flank and the winger drove at Ben Davies before cutting inside to beat Guglielmo Vicario with a clinical low strike from 12 yards.

Arsenal were ruthless in front of goal and Havertz grabbed their third with a well-worked corner routine in the 38th minute.

As Tottenham adopted zone-marking positions, a group of Arsenal players including Havertz were unmarked as they made late runs into the area, giving the German space to finish off Rice's corner with a close-range header.

But Tottenham refused to throw in the towel and Romero reduced the deficit in the 64th minute, seizing on Raya's comically bad pass to fire home from the edge of the area.

Rice set up the needlessly tense finale for Arsenal with a rash foul on Davies, conceding a penalty that Son drilled past Raya in the 87th minute.

In Sunday's other early kick-off, Bournemouth beat Brighton 3-0 through goals from Marcos Senesi, Enes Unai and Justin Kluivert.

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