Mikel Arteta insisted Arsenal proved their credentials as genuine Premier League title contenders with an impressive 3-1 win over 10-man Tottenham in Saturday's north London derby.
Arteta's side made it seven wins from eight league games this season as they moved four points clear at the top of the table.
The 192nd meeting between these bitter rivals from opposite ends of the Seven Sisters Road was a typically frenetic occasion from the moment Thomas Partey put Arsenal ahead early in the first half.
Harry Kane equalised with a penalty but third-placed Tottenham imploded after the interval as Hugo Lloris's mistake allowed Gabriel Jesus to restore Arsenal's lead.
Tottenham defender Emerson Royal was sent off for an ugly foul on Gabriel Martinelli before Granit Xhaka's goal ensured Arsenal would avenge the 3-0 defeat against their hated neighbours last season that cost them a Champions League place.
"They were phenomenal. We went from it and we created great energy in the stadium and deserved to win the game," Arteta said.
"We were free, courageous and brave. This is what we demand from the players."
Ending Tottenham's 13-match unbeaten run in the league was a significant statement of intent from Arsenal.
Arsenal have now lost just once in 30 home league games against Tottenham, yet there was far more than local bragging rights at stake for the Gunners.
Their only previous match against a top-four rival this season ended in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United, but this dynamic performance showed they must be taken seriously in the title race.
"It gives us a lot of encouragement and confidence to believe that we can win at this level," Arteta said.
"This is a sign that we are going in the right direction. We need to maintain that now and go for it."
Next Sunday's showdown with Liverpool will be another test for Arsenal, but while champions Manchester City remain the title favourites, Arteta's team are emerging as a force to be reckoned with.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said: "We made big mistakes in the last pass and with easy passes. We had many chances to score but it was a different game after the red card." (AFP)