Premier League: Arsenal win explosive North London derby; Chelsea bounce back with assured victory over Fulham
Arsenal secured a memorable 4-2 victory over rivals Tottenham to move above them in the table, as Chelsea moved back into third place by beating Claudio Ranieri's Fulham.
London: Arsenal won an explosive north London derby as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's brace and Alexandre Lacazette's crucial strike inspired a pulsating 4-2 win over bitter rivals Tottenham on Sunday, as Chelsea bounced back from their first Premier League defeat of the season to see off bottom club Fulham 2-0
Unai Emery's side extended their unbeaten run to 19 matches in all competitions after fighting back from 2-1 down in arguably the Premier League's game of the season so far. Aubameyang's penalty had put Arsenal ahead before Eric Dier's header and a Harry Kane spot-kick gave Tottenham the lead at half-time at the Emirates Stadium.
Dier's gloating celebration in front of Arsenal's fans had triggered a touchline brawl involving Arsenal substitutes. But the fireworks were far from over as Aubameyang's superb long-range equaliser sparked a second half surge from the Gunners. Lacazette came off the bench to put Arsenal ahead and Lucas Torreira sealed the points with his first goal for the club.
Capping a miserable day for Jan Vertonghen, the Tottenham defender was sent off in the closing stages after earlier giving away Arsenal's penalty.
This stirring comeback was exactly the kind of statement of intent Arsenal needed as they moved above Tottenham into fourth place on goal difference. Ending their hated neighbours' six-match winning run showed Arsenal aren't content to let the balance of power in north London remain with Tottenham.
Biting into challenges and harrying Tottenham into panicked mistakes, Arsenal made a blistering start and their relentless tempo paid dividends in the 10th minute.
Vertonghen jumped with Shkodran Mustafi as they challenged for a corner and the Belgian's raised arm clearly made contact with the ball as he tried to block the Arsenal defender's header. Referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty and Aubameyang sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot for his 11th goal of the season.
Despite being dominated for the opening half hour, Tottenham snatched a 30th minute equaliser as the derby reached fever pitch. Christian Eriksen's inswinging free-kick caught Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka flat-footed and Dier nipped in to head past Bernd Leno's weak attempted save.
Dier celebrated by holding his finger to his mouth to indicate the Arsenal fans should keep quiet and his inflammatory gesture quickly sparked a touchline brawl. Arsenal substitutes Stephan Lichtsteiner and Aaron Ramsey took exception to Dier's taunting, prompting a bout of pushing and shoving.
The goal and subsequent fracas sparked Tottenham into life and four minutes later they were ahead. Son Heung-Min's pace was too much for Arsenal to handle and Rob Holding responded by making a rash sliding challenge on the South Korean in the penalty area.
There was only minimal contact but Son fell to the turf and, to Arsenal's fury, Dean pointed to the spot. Kane lashed home the penalty for a record-equalling eighth Premier League goal in north London derbies.
Arsenal's sense of injustice spurred them on and Emery responded by sending on Ramsey and Lacazette, back from a groin injury, at half-time. They proved inspired moves as Gabon forward Aubameyang conjured a majestic equaliser in the 56th minute.
Hector Bellerin's long pass was flicked on by Ramsey and Aubameyang was first to the pass, unleashing a ferocious strike that flashed past the disbelieving Lloris from 20 yards. Tottenham had reverted to their earlier timid performance and Arsenal went ahead in the 74th minute.
Lacazette slipped when he took aim from the edge of the area, but his miscued shot took a deflection off Dier and trickled past Lloris.
Torreira delivered the knockout blow three minutes later, running onto Aubameyang's pass and fired low into the far corner. There was still time for Vertonghen to see red for an 85th minute lunge on Lacazette that rounded off Arsenal's perfect afternoon.
Earlier, Chelsea dominated possession at Stamford Bridge and scored early through Spain forward Pedro but struggled to find their rhythm and looked vulnerable against their spirited visitors until substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek settled their nerves with a late second.
"After the 1-0 the players on the pitch had a very good level of application, attention, but without trying to kill the match," said Sarri, who pulled his players in for one-on-one post-mortems after last week's chastening 3-1 loss to Spurs.
"We needed to kill the match before (we did). But I think today we were a little bit tense," he added.
The home side, welcoming former manager Claudio Ranieri back to Stamford Bridge in the Fulham dugout, were quickly into their stride against their London neighbours and were ahead inside four minutes.
N'Golo Kante — publicly criticised by his manager for his positioning in the match against Spurs — was instrumental in the opening goal, dispossessing Jean Michael Seri in the middle of the pitch and feeding the ball to Pedro on the right side of the penalty box.
The winger stepped inside onto his left foot and fired the ball into the far corner. Pedro's strike was Chelsea's 1,000th home goal in the Premier League — they are the third club to reach the landmark after Manchester United and Arsenal.
Ranieri made two substitutions for the second half, bringing on Floyd Ayite and Aboubakar Kamara for Stefan Johansen and Ryan Sessegnon. Fulham, playing with more urgency after the break, twice went close to an equaliser through defender Calum Chambers.
The home side had a chance to guarantee all three points when Rico could only palm an Eden Hazard deflected shot into the path of second-half substitute Alvaro Morata but he skewed the ball horribly with the goal at his mercy.
The Spain forward was spared further embarrassment when England international Loftus-Cheek finished a lovely intricate move by driving into the net from the right-hand side of the penalty area in the 82nd minute.
"We created some problems for them, (and had some) good chances to draw the match," said Ranieri, adding, "in the end, when you change with some quality players, they can score a second. But I'm satisfied with how we reacted, how we played, but now we want to improve."
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