Arsenal won the North London bragging rights on Saturday with a thoroughly deserved 2-0 Premier League victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have had a tough time of it against their rivals of late, but turned in an energetic and clinical display to outclass a Spurs team that looked off the pace from the first minute.
Shkodran Mustafi gave Arsenal the lead 10 minutes before the break, meeting Mesut Ozil’s free-kick with a towering header that glance in off the far post.
The goal was not without controversy; the German defender looked offside when the ball was delivered and the original foul on Alexis Sanchez was a questionable decision from referee Mike Dean.
The Chilean was also involved in the second of the afternoon, expertly controlling Alexandre Lacazette’s cross and firing it high into Hugo Lloris’ goal to cement a two-goal cushion at half-time.
Petr Cech made a late save from Eric Dier’s header but in truth Spurs offered little threat and Sanchez could have added to their misery only to spurn two good chances on the counter-attack.
As for Arsenal, the win fired them back to within a point of their opponents in the table, although they still sit sixth after 12 matches.
This was a dynamic performance from Arsene Wenger’s men and begged the question as to why the front three of Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette have started just three games together this term.
Former Lyon star Lacazette was left out of the defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City earlier in the campaign, much to the annoyance of the Gunners faithful.
His team-mates were smashed 4-0 at Anfield and despite competing well in a 3-1 loss to the Citizens they never looked in the same league as Pep Guardiola’s table-toppers.
The call to omit the French forward seemed all the more strange given that Arsenal’s attack is perhaps the only area of the team that is as strong as any other in the division.
In goal, Cech is still dependable but past his prime, and whilst there is talent in defence and midfield there are always suspicions about a soft centre.
Up top, though, Wenger has three players of genuine quality and not to start them together in the biggest clashes of the season invites ridicule.
If Barcelona had faced Real Madrid over the past few campaigns without one of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez or Neymar in the starting XI there would have been uproar, and although Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette are not quite in that bracket, their importance to the FA Cup holders should not be underestimated.
The trio tormented Tottenham’s defence on Saturday, showing their class by registering either a goal or an assist each on a wet afternoon in the capital.
It proved the old adage that good footballers can always play together and Wenger must now make them the focal point as he looks to restore his side to the Champions League after failing to qualify for this year’s competition.
Having three forwards of that ilk in the team should breed confidence and help the rest of the players raise their game as the term progresses.
Whilst the title is all but gone at this stage, Arsenal are now firmly in the race for a top-four finish.