Declan Rice celebrates Arsenal's win at Tottenham

Arsenal survive the chaos at Spurs + Kai Havertz gives Arteta and Edu a decision to make

Well, that was a bit more stressful than it should have been, but at this stage of the season the result is all that matters.

Arsenal went into Sunday’s north London derby knowing they had to win, any other result and the title would all but have been Manchester City’s.

That’s a huge amount of pressure to take into a game that is difficult enough at the best of times and when you then add in the extra motivation Spurs had to get the win, it was always going to be an incredibly tough afternoon for Mikel Arteta’s side.

At half-time, 3-0 up, it seemed to be going swimmingly, but I have to say I never felt comfortable. 

I didn’t think Arsenal were good in the first half. They had some good moments going forward, the excellent second goal was one of those, but on the whole I thought they were unusually sloppy.

Son’s miss just before half-time was a big moment. Had he scored that and made it 3-1, I would have been really nervous about what was to come after the break.

The derby is always a chaotic game, but this one felt more so than ever. The fact that I thought Arsenal were actually much better in the second half and Spurs were pretty poor summed it up. If Saka had stuck that volley away to make it 4-0 it could have been a cricket score, instead it ended up being pretty damn horrible.

Obviously Spurs’ two goals were gifts. David Raya just had a complete brain freeze. It was one of those moments when he must have got caught in two minds in terms of what to do and in the end he just ended up doing neither.

It was a big error, a really, really bad one. But to credit Raya, I thought he was excellent after that. Keepers will always make mistakes playing out from the back, that’s going to happen given what’s asked of them now. The key thing is how they react to them. And Raya reacted superbly. He claimed everything in that final 30 minutes, his handling under pressure was impeccable. I thought he showed real character.

I have to admit I did fear the worst after the penalty had gone in. I couldn’t get Liverpool’s capitulation at Palace from 3-0 in front all those years ago out of my head. All those set pieces at the end were torture….

But the players held on and you could see by the celebrations how much that meant. 

All Arsenal can do now is win. That’s it. What City do is out of their hands, so they have to just take care of their own business and make Pep Guardiola’s team have to take maximum points until the end of the season. 

City obviously did that at Nottingham Forest a couple of hours later, winning 2-0, with Chris Wood doing his best to make sure he can’t ever set foot in Islington again thanks to a couple of atrocious finishes.

But there are still three games remaining for Arsenal and four for City. So there could still be some twists to come yet, as unlikely as that may feel at the moment.

I just wanted to pay tribute to Kai Havertz before I wrap this up, I thought he was absolutely excellent again yesterday. It wasn’t just his goal, or his superb assist for Saka, it was his all round performance playing in that No.9 role. He was so, so good and deserved all the praise that was heaped on him by Mikel Arteta afterwards.

In the first couple of months of the season if you would have said that it would be Havertz who would be the driving force behind Arsenal’s title charge during the run-in, no-one would have believed you.

But that’s what he’s doing. He’s turning up and producing at the crucial moment and he deserves a lot of credit. It will be interesting what sort of impact his performances in this No.9 role has on Arsenal’s transfer plans this summer. His performances are certainly giving Arteta and Edu a decision to make.

Anyway, that’s it from me. Keep your eyes peeled on my YouTube or on the usual podcast platforms for all my shows this week as we start to build-up to the Bournemouth game. There will be an Inside Arsenal extra-time at some point as well as James is back this week, now a happily married man of course. 

So until then, enjoy your Monday everyone. North London is red!