“Arsenal dispel any last concerns over title pedigree”

Pep Guardiola was compelled to use Arsenal as an example to his all-conquering Manchester City because of their fervor and fire as they hunt their first Premier League championship in nearly two decades.

Arsenal was the term that frequently crossed Guardiola’s lips as he unleashed an enraged salvo in all directions to compel improvement from the defending champions following City’s 4-2 victory over Tottenham.

Guardiola made it plain who he views as their serious title challengers, even threatening that they would “destroy” City unless they improved. This was the most significant sign of Arsenal’s development and rising maturity under his former right-hand man Mikel Arteta.

The manner of Arsenal’s great triumph over an improving Manchester United in a thriller at Emirates Stadium should clear up any confusion as to why Guardiola was issuing his warning.

According to the most basic statistics, Arsenal’s 3-2 victory, which was completed by Eddie Nketiah’s goal in the 90th minute, puts them five points ahead of City with a game remaining.

But when you look closer, it’s obvious that Arsenal’s victory over a United team led by Erik ten Hag is significant on a much larger scale.

Those who have witnessed Arsenal falter under duress in recent years believe that they must consistently demonstrate their worth. The good news for the increasingly upbeat Arsenal supporters who wish to win their first championship since “The Invincibles” of 2003–04 is that Arteta and his team are succeeding.

Why should there still be questions about a team’s credentials when they have won 16 and lost just one of their first 19 league games, and their victory on Sunday against the lone team to defeat them in the top division this year clears up any confusion?

Additionally, other circumstances contributed to what was perhaps Arsenal’s biggest victory and biggest challenge of the season.

Arsenal may feel the strain of being the champions on their shoulders after Manchester City’s easy 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers, which was in answer to Guardiola’s requests.

The atmosphere at Emirates Stadium was broken by Marcus Rashford’s sensational low goal to put Manchester United ahead after just 17 minutes, but Arsenal’s supporters immediately turned up the noise to spur a comeback.

Nketiah’s goal answered their plea, and even after Lisandro Martinez tied Bukayo Saka’s goal, Arsenal showed a different side of themselves that addressed concerns highlighted in previous weeks.

Early in January, Arsenal and manager Arteta allowed themselves to be drawn into a dull 0-0 draw with Newcastle United at home, losing composure and tempers.

Arsenal’s players kept their emotions in check and showed no symptoms of the title pressure as they remained composed, generating chances up until the poacher Nketiah popped up in the six-yard box to send Emirates Stadium into a frenzy. Arteta was given a yellow card for this first-half outburst.

The fact that Arsenal’s goal celebrations had to endure a VAR screening for offside before they could fully erupt in thundering noise was only fitting given the drama of the day.

Arsenal’s happiness was enhanced by the fact that these three points were achieved against a Manchester United team that was progressing. Given the challenge before of Arsenal, a draw would not have been disastrous, just disappointing.

Arsenal’s Nketiah has come out of the shadows to play a crucial part in the absence of injured Gabriel Jesus, who was so essential to Arsenal’s style in the months leading up to the World Cup. The strength of Manchester City’s squad may still have a significant influence on this title fight.

With his two goals today, Nketiah has seized his opportunity and then some, giving him 13 goals in his previous 13 home starts.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, whose ability to link defense, midfield, and attack in his playing package makes him invaluable to Arteta, is another essential piece of title-winning know-how that Arsenal imported from Manchester City. Jesus may be out for a while, but Zinchenko can link defense, midfield, and attack in his playing package.

For Arsenal’s title defense, there are also reinforcements.

Leandro Trossard, a new £21 million acquisition from Brighton, was introduced by Arteta late in the game as Poland defender Jakob Kiwior watched from the stands and before the legalities of his £21 million transfer from Serie A club Spezia were completed.

When Arsenal traveled to Tottenham for the north London derby seven days earlier, they faced similar scrutiny and produced equally compelling evidence that Manchester City might only have two chances to derail the Gunners’ title show when they play in London on February 15 and Manchester on April 26.

Both days seem like they should have a red circle around them on the calendar because Guardiola will feel more unable to turn to anyone else for help given Arsenal’s unstoppable form.

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