Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said the performance and atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium was “as good as it gets” after his side comfortably dispatched Tottenham 3-1 in the north London derby.
The Gunners raced out of the traps against a lethargic and poor-looking Spurs and seized an early lead through academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe.
His pass then set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal’s second after a swift counter-attack, before Bukayo Saka waltzed through a timid Spurs backline with little over half an hour on the clock to fire into the corner past Hugo Lloris.
Arsenal weren’t able to push on and claim a fourth, eventually seeing their margin of victory reduced to two by Son Heung-min’s goal, but that didn’t detract from Arteta praising his team’s efforts as he reflected on a “special day” for the players and supporters.
“I think [that is] as good as it gets,” Arteta told Arsenal’s club media. “The way we started, the victory, the way we played, the atmosphere that was created today made it such a special day. Great to have the opportunity to experience something like this.
“It was probably as good as I’ve seen this crowd and they stood by us in difficult moments. Not just by us, but by the club and the team and this is our way to say thank you as this win is for them. Enjoy it!
“[The first-half display] is very close to what we are trying to do. The determination, the energy, the rhythm, the connection between the players and then the quality and we generated that. They believed in what we are doing and created an incredible first half.”
Arteta wasn’t the only happy person beaming with pride at full-time, with Saka revealing a conversation he’d had with Smith Rowe at breakfast about what it would be like to score in a north London derby.
“Yesterday at breakfast we spoke about this, ‘Imagine how it would feel to score in a north London derby’,” Saka remarked.
“When Emile scored the first goal, I just looked at him and we remembered the conversation. When I scored, he looked at me again and it was just a very, very special feeling for both of us to do it in this stadium as well.
“It feels very nice to share the moment with him. Even if he scored and I didn’t, I would still be happy for him but the most important thing is that we won and got the three points and everyone can go home happy.
“I think we already knew how much it means to the fans, but it means as much to them as it does to us. When you se the crowd and everyone is cheering, that is how we feel. So it means everything to us.”