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No doubt: Arsenal are genuine title contenders

Since the start of the season in the Premier League, Arsenal has attracted the attention of even football fans who have no particular sympathy for the “gunners”.

The team that has given so much cause for skepticism in recent years looked changed even as they opened the new campaign with victory over Crystal Palace on August 5.

Enthusiasm in the Londoners’ camp grew with each successive success, but the naysayers continued to point to the upcoming derbies against Tottenham and Liverpool at the Emirates. According to them, any assessment of progress under Mikel Arteta should only be made after those games have been played.

Tottenham and Liverpool would be the big tests for the new Arsenal and would show how much this really is a changed team with a winning mentality capable of taking the derbies as leaders.

Now we know the final result: two games, two wins and still first place in the Premier League after the tenth round.

Hardly anyone will name Arsenal as the No. 1 favorite for the title and you will hardly hear claims that Arteta already has a complete squad.

But there is no longer any doubt that the “gunners” are a real contender for the championship trophy and are progressing at an ever faster pace.

Antonio Conte’s Tottenham are a tough opponent, but Arsenal overcame them relatively comfortably 3-1 at the very start of the month. Sunday’s clash with Liverpool was a completely different type of indicator of the level of maturity reached by Arteta’s players.

The outstanding Gabriel Martinelli took the upper hand in the duel with Trent Alexander-Arnold before even a minute had elapsed in the match.

This was expected to be an area where Arsenal would have the upper hand and the recently criticized right-back would suffer, but a goal in the first minute? The beginning couldn’t have been more perfect.

Liverpool have dominated Arsenal in recent years and they weren’t going to give up easily this time either. Twice the visitors equalized the score and the match remained quite unpredictable.

When Roberto Firmino made it 2-2 soon after the start of the second half, the Gunners’ supporters were heartbroken. Arsenal have collapsed so many times in precisely these situations to cement their image as a team that breaks too easily and cannot withstand adversity.

This time the hosts proved they were a different team now and found a new momentum in their game to take their biggest win of the season so far.

It came thanks to a penalty, for which the Liverpool camp will have complaints to the referee Michael Oliver. But even without intent, Thiago Alcantara kicked Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka kept his cool and waited for the on-field shenanigans to stop before scoring his second goal of the game.

As much as the Merseysiders are unhappy with the referee’s decision, they have to admit that Arsenal were the dominant team in most components. And the penalty came after a prolonged attack by the hosts, in which Liverpool defended so militarily, as if they were outsiders and the match was in added time.

The visitors didn’t have the strength to respond with anything really dangerous in front of Ramsdale, and Arsenal finished the game with the maturity needed to grab the win.

Alexander-Arnold was replaced by Jurgen Klopp at halftime (according to the manager – due to an injury), but Martinelli, who played against him, remained a key figure on the field.

Photo: Getty Images

The winners celebrated wildly and sincerely in front of their fans and it was clear that they realized the value of this victory. Not only from the point of view of ranking and retaining first place, but also because of the added confidence that success over an opponent like Liverpool gives.

Arteta was totally rampant on the touchline in the closing minutes as his men looked to hang on to their lead.

The Spaniard knows well what it is to lose against Klopp (5 losses in 10 games), he also knows how much victory can mean for the future of his Arsenal.

Since the departure of Arsene Wenger, the Gunners have gone through several periods of false hope followed by heavy disappointments. Last season, they missed out on a Champions League place at the last minute and gave critics yet another reason to declare that it was just “old frail Arsenal”.

But the change is already too obvious to deny. The team is united, the crowd was also full of enthusiasm against Liverpool Emirates.

There was no division among the audience because people have complete confidence in Arteta. The manager has been questioned more than once in the period since his appointment nearly three years ago, but he has dealt with all the criticism and the management has continued to trust him and now it seems that it has all been worth it.

Manchester City are overwhelming favorites for a fifth title in the last 6 seasons and a minimal one-point lead in favor of Arsenal will not change that.

But Emirates fans have every reason to dream again like they haven’t done in years. Their real Arsenal – as they remembered it in the past and as they imagined it in the future – was taking shape before their eyes.

Arsenal thrashed Liverpool in a breathtaking derby at "Emirates"

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