Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta savoured their best ever start to a Premier League season after the leaders boosted their title charge with a late 3-2 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
Eddie Nketiah’s 90th-minute winner settled a ding-dong contest that harked back to the heyday of the two teams’ rivalry and restored the Gunners’ five-point lead over champions Manchester City at the top of the table.
It took Arsenal to 50 points from the first 19 games of the league season, a club record and the sixth best ever recorded in the top division of English football.
“It’s great,” said Arteta. “We deserve to be where we are. But it’s about what we do tonight and tomorrow.
“We are halfway through the season, there are other teams with bigger squads. We go day by day.
“I’m delighted. The boys really deserved it. We showed a lot of personality especially on the ball in big moments. And I love that.
“It doesn’t get much better than that, after the derby [win over Tottenham last week]. To win it in that way makes it even better.”
Arsenal’s only league defeat this season came at United in September and the visitors looked on course to do the double when Marcus Rashford sidestepped Thomas Partey and smashed a low shot past Aaran Ramsdale from 25 yards.
Nketiah equalised in the 24th minute by heading in Granit Xhaka’s cross and the hosts took the lead soon after half-time when Bukayo Saka cut in from the right and unleashed a low shot that snuck inside the far post.
Lisandro Martinez, who chose to join United ahead of Arsenal last summer, quickly drew the visitors level when he reacted quickest to Ramsdale flapping at a corner and dived to nod in the loose ball.
But Nketiah had the last word in the last minute when he flicked in Martin Odegaard’s shot for his ninth goal of the season and seventh in his last seven games – and survived a tense VAR check for offside.
United remain fourth in the table, behind Newcastle only on goal difference and five points adrift of neighbours City, but manager Erik ten Hag rued an error-ridden display.
“We made mistakes. That is not acceptable,” he said. “It’s hard to accept you lose in the final stage of the game. We started the game very well, we were leading and then we made mistakes. We have to learn the lesson and move on.”