Mikel Arteta has won both of his north London derbies at the Emirates as the Arsenal boss looks to down Tottenham and keep the Gunners top of the Premier League.
Arsenal have had the joy of sitting top of the Premier League during the international break following their stellar start to the campaign.
Mikel Arteta’s side, who recruited shrewdly in the summer, have won six of their seven games and are beginning to convince sceptics that they could be the real deal.
Originally targeting a top four spot, some are now highlighting them as outside bets for the title.
Arsenal’s credentials will become far clearer after this weekend when they take on Tottenham in the north London derby.
As was the case last year, the first clash between the two will be hosted at the Emirates.
Antonio Conte’s side pipped Arsenal to fourth last term and are only a point behind this term.
The Gunners‘ last outing saw them beat Brentford comprehensively, having lost the same fixture last term, which underlined how far they’ve come.
Arteta became accustomed to time at the summit whilst assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, now he’s getting a taste as the main man.
Ahead of the visit of Tottenham the Spaniard, who has appeared a calm, composed character thus far, has welcomed his squad back to London Coloney and has several issues to address as he looks to keep his side top of the pile.
He was only thrown in because of an injury to captain Martin Odegaard prior to the Brentford clash, but Fabio Vieira looked an accomplished performer.
The playmaker, signed from Porto in the summer, has had to wait for his opportunity, but could’ve done no more.
His neat touches in the final third were capped by a sensational strike, Arsenal’s third, from 25 yards.
Odegaard, as skipper, may want his starting spot back, but what message does that send to Vieira after such a performance?
Arteta hinted that the Portuguese star was capable of playing from out wide as well as centrally, which may present him with a solution to his problem.
He may not be what Tite wants for Brazil, but he’s proved to be exactly what Arteta needed at Arsenal.
The forward, signed from City, has been a game changer and also scored last time out at Brentford.
That took his season total to four, but being overlooked for his country won’t have been ideal.
Arteta will need to keep his forward believing that he is the main man ahead of the crunch clash.
He was a star performer in the game at Old Trafford, Arsenal’s only defeat thus far, and will again need to be on top form.
Jesus spoke with great humility after being snubbed by Brazil just months out from the World Cup – and knows the best way to respond is by producing for his club.
When things aren’t going well changes are regularly made, but when you find a winning formula it becomes harder to keep all your players happy.
Arteta has made very few changes to his starting XI since the opening day of the season with Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and William Saliba among eight players to start every game.
That has left the likes of Eddie Nketiah, who signed a new contract in the summer, Marquinhos and Rob Holding looking in from the outside and Arteta knows, having been at City, how vital it is to keep the entire squad happy as the season goes on.
The doubters are keen to point out that, whilst Arsenal have been very professional this term, they’ve largely faced teams you would expect them to beat.
They have already taken on four of the bottom eight with their only defeat coming on the road at Manchester United back at the start of September.
That day Arsenal impressed some, but others felt familiar flaws were exposed.
They were labelled “Naive” and it fitted the narrative that the Gunners would still come unstuck against the top sides.
The north London derby gives them a chance to show that, when the big boys come to town, they have what it takes to topple them and ensure they are here for the long haul.
Arteta has endured a mixed time in charge at the Emirates, but when it has come to hosting Tottenham the young coach has often primed his side effectively.
Last term, when they were in a poor run of form, they secured a memorable 3-1 derby win.
The season before that they came from behind to win 2-1 against a Tottenham team led by Jose Mourinho.
The Arsenal boss will again be hoping to call upon home advantage and keep up his run of seeing off his local neighbours going, which would ensure the Gunners remain top of the Premier League ahead of a huge eight days that will also see them take on Liverpool at the Emirates.