Arteta delivers verdict on Arsenal's win over Tottenham
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Arsenal suffered a dismal start to the Premier League season as they were humbled 2-0 by top-flight new-boys Brentford on opening night, before succumbing to Chelsea by the same scoreline in their second game. And things went from bad to worse when Manchester City thrashed them 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium at the end of last month.
Boss Mikel Arteta appeared to be clinging to his job as his players flew off for the international break.
But Arsenal have enjoyed a remarkable upturn in fortunes since returning to Premier League action.
The Gunners got their first points on the board by battling to a 1-0 victory over Norwich three weeks ago before seeing off banana skin side Burnley at Turf Moor.
And Arteta’s team finally sparked their season into life courtesy of a mouthwatering first-half display in their 3-1 win against Tottenham on Sunday.
Arsenal had struggled in front of goal all season but produced a free-flowing attacking display to put Spurs to the sword.
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That led former midfielder Paul Merson to label the Gunners as top-four contenders as he purred over their performance.
“If Arsenal keep those players fit and they play every week, they would have a chance of getting in the top four and cause problems,” Merson said after the game.
“They have no Europe this season, so will have time to recover and work on the team.
“The game on Sunday was their bread and butter – but if they win away at Brighton on Saturday, then I will sit up. They need to get a run of games together.
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“This is a good XI but, if they get injuries, they are going to struggle as there is not much after that. But from what I’ve seen the last few weeks, fair play to them
“They have set themselves a yardstick now. They’ve put the bar there – now good teams stay at that level.”
But former Manchester United defender Gary Neville doesn’t agree with Merson’s verdict and recently omitted Arsenal when he discussed the teams who will be challenging at the top of the table this season.
“Liverpool are in there,” Neville said earlier this month. “United are in there. City are in there. Chelsea are in there. Tottenham and Leicester in the last few years, I would say.
“Arsenal fans will probably now quote some stats – they think I hate them anyway. They drain me. Start winning and I will start praising you again.”
Arsenal were bottom of the table three weeks ago – but now they’re just four points off the top four. Things may finally be starting to look up in the red half of north London.
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