LEADERS Arsenal put on a masterclass to overwhelm shell-shocked north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 away and extend the gap at the top of the Premier League to eight points yesterday.
The Gunners flew out of the blocks from the opening whistle and built a first-half lead through a clumsy own goal by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and a sublime strike from Martin Odegaard.
Tottenham were totally outplayed by a fired-up Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta who were determined to make amends for a loss at Spurs last season that ultimately cost them a top-four place.
They dominated the first half and battled gamely in the second, leaving Tottenham boss Antonio Conte looking glum on the sidelines as he clapped his hands to rally his sorry side.
Striker Harry Kane, needing one more goal to equal Jimmy Greaves’ all-time Spurs’ scoring record, had chances either side of the break but keeper Aaron Ramsdale was equal to them.
The win puts Arsenal on 47 points from 18 games ahead of Manchester City on 39, with Newcastle United, who have played a game more, and Manchester United a further point back.
Spurs are in fifth place with 33 points from 19 matches.
Club-record signing Alexander Isak came off the bench to earn Newcastle a last-gasp 1-0 win over Fulham, with the hosts grateful for an extraordinary penalty slip from visiting forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Newcastle, without a goal in their previous two league matches, again struggled to break down their opponents in the first half at St James’ Park, with Callum Wilson twice denied by Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Those missed chances looked like they would prove to be costly after Fulham won a penalty midway through the second half for a foul on Bobby Decordova-Reid, following a VAR review.
However, as former Newcastle striker Mitrovic slipped as he struck the spot kick and hit the ball against his standing foot before finding the net, the goal was ruled out because he had touched the ball twice.
It looked like Newcastle would have to settle for a third successive Premier League goalless draw, before Isak arrived right on cue to head home the 89th-minute winner, sparking wild scenes of celebration in the north east.
The victory ensured Newcastle climbed back above Manchester United into third in the standings on goal difference, one point behind champions Manchester City in second. Fulham stay sixth.
Newcastle have 38 points from 19 games.
Meanwhile, a second-half goal from Kai Havertz proved enough to give Chelsea a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, easing the pressure on manager Graham Potter after a poor run of form.
The German striker nodded in a cross from Hakim Ziyech in the 65th minute following a short corner. It was only the second league win in 10 matches for the home side who remain in 10th place half-way through the season.
Chelsea were on top for much of the lively if scrappy derby, but Palace kept goalkeeper Kepa busy with efforts from Tyrick Mitchell, Michael Olise and Wilfried Zaha and he was forced into a leaping save from Cheick Doucoure towards the end of the second half.
Midway through the first half Chelsea announced Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk had become their fifth signing of the January transfer window, and the 22-year-old waved to fans from the pitch at halftime, a Ukraine flag draped round his shoulders.
Arsenal had the first clear chance after seven minutes when Eddie Nketiah found himself free inside the area but his shot was well saved by the diving Lloris.
They took the lead seven minutes later when Bukayo Saka crossed from the right and Lloris fumbled the ball into his own net for the first time in his 354-game Premier League career.
Arsenal were in almost total control and Odegaard nearly put the visitors further ahead with a rasping long-range drive that Frenchman Lloris did well to tip round the post.
Thomas Partey then came even closer with a fierce volley from just outside the area that crashed against the post as the crowd of nearly 62,000 held their breath on a cold London night.
However, Arsenal did stretch their lead in the 36th through Odegaard who called for the ball just outside the box and fired a precise shot into the far corner past the helpless Lloris.
Spurs fashioned a rare chance just before the break when Kane’s glancing header was turned away by Ramsdale at the near post after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s cross from the right.
Kane then forced another fine save from Ramsdale after halftime as the hosts tried to get back in the game.
But despite all the huffing and puffing, Tottenham could not find a way through and it was the visitors who nearly scored again in the 69th when Saka’s close-range effort was saved.
The victory meant Arsenal enjoyed their first league double over Spurs since the 2013-14 season and, more importantly, put them firmly in control of the title race.