LONDON (AP) — Gabriel Jesus marked his first north London derby with a goal as Arsenal beat 10-man Tottenham 3-1 on Saturday to strengthen its grip on first place in the Premier League.
Jesus took advantage of a defensive blunder to make it 2-1 early in the second half and Tottenham’s chances of a comeback were then ruined by Emerson Royal earning a straight red card for a needless studs-up challenge on Gabriel Martinelli in the 62nd minute.
Granit Xhaka quickly capitalized on the man-advantage by adding the third goal five minutes later as Arsenal built a four-point gap to Spurs and Manchester City atop the table. Tottenham would have climbed above Arsenal into first with a win.
City can climb back within one point of Arsenal with a win over crosstown rival Manchester United on Sunday.
Arsenal took the lead at the Emirates Stadium through a spectacular strike from midfielder Thomas Partey, who curled in a long-distance shot past Hugo Lloris in the 20th following a strong start by the hosts. Arsenal largely dominated possession in the first half as Tottenham was content to sit back and wait for counter-attacking opportunities. That strategy paid off on the half-hour mark when Bukayo Saka turned the ball over and the visitors launched a quick counter that ended with Arsenal giving away a penalty as defender Gabriel lunged in to trip Richarlison in the area.
Harry Kane sent the spot kick straight down the middle to equalize.
But Arsenal was back in front shortly after the restart. Saka broke in from the right and fired a low shot that Lloris could only parry straight out in front of him. Defender Cristian Romero tried to play the ball back to his goalkeeper but the prone Lloris couldn’t collect the ball, which snuck underneath his body — allowing Jesus to poke it into an empty net.
It was Jesus’ fifth league goal since joining from Manchester City in the offseason and he could have had another a few minutes later when he headed just wide after a cross from the right.
The usually feisty derby fixture had been surprisingly void of tough challenges and fouls, with not a single player getting booked in the first half. But Royal changed that when the raked his studs down the back of Martinelli’s calf — a completely needless challenge as the Brazilian was running toward his own goal along the sideline well inside his own half.
Referee Anthony Taylor showed a straight red, which effectively ended Spurs’ resistance.
Martinelli then set up Xhaka to score the third goal with a low shot inside the far post and Tottenham manager Antonio Conte conceded defeat as he made a quadruple substitution shortly afterward — taking off forwards Richarlison and Son Heung-min — with one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League game at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Arsenal now has seven wins in the first eight matches to strengthen its status as a proper title challenger, having finished fifth last season.
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Mattias Karén, The Associated Press