Arsenal show title credentials with gritty win at Chelsea

Arsenal players and fans celebrated loudly after the match at Stamford Bridge

Reuters
Published : 6 Nov 2022, 04:17 PM
Updated : 6 Nov 2022, 04:17 PM

Arsenal's controlled 1-0 win at London rivals Chelsea on Sunday offered the strongest evidence this season that the Gunners can finally challenge again for the title that has eluded them for nearly 20 years. 

Arsenal players and fans celebrated loudly after the match at Stamford Bridge, knowing the three points not only took them back above Manchester City at the top of the table but also confirmed they can hurt the Premier League's heavyweights. 

The north Londoners claimed the only goal of the game - when defender Gabriel stabbed home after a corner eluded a string of Chelsea players - but the narrow victory margin masked their superiority over the 90 minutes. 

The Gunners' only league defeat of the campaign was in September away to one of England's traditional top six clubs, Manchester United, drawing criticism that their strong start to the season was based on wins against lesser opposition. 

Although they have beaten local rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool since then, both those wins were at home, adding to the sense that Sunday's victory in West London was a milestone in their season. 

Arsenal now have 34 points after 13 games - the most they have racked up at this stage of the season since the Premier League was launched - and are two points ahead of second-placed Manchester City. 

ANOTHER STEP 

Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta acknowledged the win represented "another step" for his team who failed to finish in the top four last season. 

"We are getting much better as a team we are competing much better. We are getting really good results right now," he said. 

But Arteta continued to play down Arsenal's chances of wresting the title from champions Manchester City. 

"Just look at the last six years what Manchester City has done with the best manager in the world, with the best team in the world. They have shown it consistently in every single competition. We have to be respectful of that," he said. 

Pressed again on whether Arsenal were finally contenders for the title, the Spaniard limited himself to saying: "We are today," before quickly adding the season remained a marathon. 

For Chelsea, a second defeat in a row after last weekend's 4-1 drubbing by Brighton & Hove Albion underscored the challenge facing coach Graham Potter who is two months into his time in charge of the Blues, and 13 points adrift of the Gunners. 

"We huffed and puffed, I thought, but you could see the difference between the two teams in terms of confidence," Potter said. "We're not in a fantastic moment as we speak." 

He said Chelsea - missing several key players through injury - had to improve but warned that his rebuilding of the team he inherited from Thomas Tuchel would take time. 

Potter pointed to the three years that Arteta has been in charge of Arsenal. 

"I'm sure if you look at the Arsenal story, and where they are now as to where they were two years ago, or one year ago, it's slightly different," he said. 

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher