It made Thierry Henry and Tony Adams happy, and Mikel Arteta on the touchline was so excited by it all that he probably expended more energy than the Tottenham midfield.

So bravo Arsenal, bravo. A 3-1 win – their 600th in the Premier League – over Tottenham looks great on paper and proved rather fetching on grass, too, the Gunners picking off their north London neighbours at will, particularly in an embarrassingly one-sided first half.

But in essence, this was all about keeping up with the Joneses. Any significance from a sunny Sunday afternoon's Emirates Stadium stroll can only be gauged by what Arsenal, and indeed Spurs, do next.

Successive 1-0 wins over Norwich City and Burnley kept the wolves from Arteta's door after Arsenal's slow start to the Premier League season, and this derby success was received like they used to savour championships in these parts.

Of course, there is a temptation to look at this result without a dispassionate perspective, to rave about Emile Smith Rowe, who was excellent, and Bukayo Saka, whose season perhaps starts now. The young English pair both scored and both had an assist, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rather than an imposter.

Record scorer Henry, sitting in the stand alongside Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek, was all smiles and giggles, while former skipper Adams, in the Sky Sports studio, gushed about "a wonderful, wonderful first-half display". The Gunners gentry were grinning, dreaming it might be the start of something.

"I'm excited guys, I'm excited," Adams said, almost apologetically. "I was absolutely delighted the kids took the game to Tottenham."

Even Gary Neville said Arsenal had been "fantastic", and in many ways they were.


SPURS TAKE A HIDING

Smith Rowe wandered untracked into the heart of the Spurs penalty area to drive home Saka's low centre for the 12th-minute opener; then Aubameyang put the finishing touch to a glorious Arsenal counter-attack, Tierney to Aubameyang, on to the galloping Smith Rowe with a delicious flick, then back to Aubameyang for an unstoppable finish into the far right corner.

Tottenham were torn apart again in the 34th minute as Saka bundled his way through a desperate Spurs defence before driving a shot across Lloris.

Harry Kane had given the ball away at the other end of the pitch and dashed back to try to make amends, only to nudge Saka's attempted pass handily back into the path of his England colleague, who pounced on the chance.

Smith Rowe, at 21 years and 60 days, firstly became the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League north London derby since Cesc Fabregas in September 2007.

Then Saka took that record outright from Fabregas, 21 days after his 20th birthday. Saka is also the youngest Englishman to score a league goal for Arsenal against Spurs since a 19-year-old Stewart Robson at Highbury in April 1984.

Son Heung-min got Spurs a goal in the 79th minute, ending their 307-minute goalless run, and Lucas Moura hit the bar in stoppage time, but this was a hiding for the visitors.

"They weren't competitive in any shape or form," said Graeme Souness, incandescent.

"Arsenal would wish they could play against a team like Spurs were in the first 45 minutes every week. Spurs were so poor."


KANE DRAWS A BLANK AGAIN

Kane went for a Hail Mary shot from 28 yards and the Arsenal crowd gleefully jeered as the ball cleared the bar by several yards. The England captain then headed wide from a corner and another roar went up.

Aaron Ramsdale pushed aside a Kane shot that may have been drifting wide as Spurs showed more spark after the break, before the Tottenham talisman scooped a shot wide after running in behind the Arsenal defence for the first time.

He cannot buy a Premier League goal this season. Five games in and he has yet to get off the mark, but at least he had five attempts here, more than doubling his tally for the campaign. It was 2016 when he last went on a five-game goalless streak.

Aubameyang answered his own critics in style and has now scored in all three of his home Premier League games against Spurs, but Kane only fuelled the arguments of those questioning his performance this season. Dele Alli was hauled off after 45 wasted minutes, with Sky pundit Neville saying: "He needs to sort himself out."


SPURS NEED TO CHANGE THEIR TUNE

Spurs have conceded three goals in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since September 2003, and after the derby dismay against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, here was another savage reminder of their shortcomings.

They are only the second team in Premier League history to win their first three games of a season and then lose the next three, following the Everton team of 1993-94 who finished in 17th place.

So for one day at least, we might say Tottenham are in dire trouble and the future looks bright for Arsenal, despite them sitting alongside one another in mid-table.

And, of course, the CEO of Spotify fancies Arsenal. He loved the 80s mix, the 90s mix and the 2000s mix, and senses the 2020s mix could have a rocking soundtrack too, bouncing to the beat of Saka, Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard.

Tottenham, for now it seems, are lacking punk, lacking soul, stuck on a sad-song, life-sucks loop.

Mikel Arteta described criticism of Willian as "normal" after the Brazilian came under fire from Arsenal legend Tony Adams. 

Willian has made 18 Premier League appearances for the Gunners since joining the club on a free transfer from Chelsea, though he has struggled to produce his best form and has yet to score a goal for Arsenal. 

In contrast, 19-year-old winger Bukayo Saka has netted five times in 21 league appearances this season, while 20-year-old Emile Smith Rowe has impressed in midfield, prompting Adams to question the club's decision to bring in Willian, as well as the more recent arrival of Martin Odegaard in the January window. 

Arteta admitted there is pressure on Willian to perform, saying of the criticism from Adams: "I don't say it's unfair. 

"The expectations of Willian and the goals he can score, the assists he can create. It's normal that people will write things about him. 

"We have to protect him as much as we can." 

Adams also took aim at Odegaard, suggesting the Premier League club did not need to bring in the Norwegian playmaker, particularly given the recent emergence of Smith Rowe. 

However, Arteta is backing the 22-year-old acquisition from Real Madrid to succeed during his loan spell, saying: "He's got the potential [to become one of the best] because he's done it. 

"I followed him very closely when he was at Real Sociedad and he was impressive for long periods. That's why I was so convinced he could be a player for us." 

Arsenal face Benfica in the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday, with the competition appearing to present their best route to qualifying for next season's Champions League. 

Both legs of the tie will be played in neutral venues due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, meaning Arsenal travel to Rome for the 'away' leg on Thursday. 

Arteta underlined his side's determination not to let the setting affect their progress, saying: "It's very unusual but as much as we can we must try to maintain the integrity of the competition." 

Tony Adams has expressed his dismay that Arsenal signed Martin Odegaard, Nicolas Pepe and Willian rather than strengthening their "fragile" defence.

Mikel Arteta landed Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season last month and the attacking midfielder has suggested he would be keen to join the Gunners on a permanent basis.

Willian has failed to make the impact the Arteta had hoped for after the Brazilian switched London clubs when his Chelsea contract expired, failing to score a single goal and providing only three assists in 24 appearances.

Pepe is another winger who has been a disappointment since he become the club's record signing, with Arsenal paying Nice £72million for his services in 2019. 

The Ivory coast international has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League; scoring nine goals, laying on six assists and creating 46 chances in 47 top-flight appearances.

Arteta brought in centre-backs Gabriel and William Saliba, but Gunners legend Adams has questioned his former club's transfer business.

He told Premier League Productions: "To be honest, there's an argument that you don't need Martin Odegaard.

"I got so annoyed that we bought Pepe and Willian in when you've got two kids [Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka] bursting into the team.

"There's other areas in the team that you could look at, there's holes in that team, we saw how fragile they are defensively. The defence has always been the weak link.

"As the sporting director of Arsenal, you wouldn't be getting Odegaard in, you'd be getting good, strong defenders into the team instead."

Arsenal have only kept one clean sheet in their last six games but beat Leeds United 4-2 on Sunday, courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hat-trick, to sit 10th in the Premier League.

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