MIKEL ARTETA has finally conceded Arsenal’s title contenders ARE after becoming the Gunners’ most successful manager of all time after 150 games in charge.
Gabriel’s second-half winner ensured the Gunners returned to the Premier League summit.
Arteta celebrated another win against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon[/caption]
It means Arteta has 87 wins as Arsenal boss – five more than Arsene Wenger at the time.
Wenger joins George Graham with 82 wins from 150 games, with Harry Bradshaw at 78, Tom Whittaker at 75 and Terry Neill at 72.
And as Granit Xhaka turned the air blue by hailing the “fucking amazing” atmosphere at camp, Arteta admitted for the first time this season that his team is a real contender.
Arteta said: “We are in competition today. In football, today and tomorrow are very different. But let’s enjoy this time.
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“Manchester City have the best manager in the world, the best team in the world. They’ve consistently shown it in every single competition.
“We have to be very, very respectful. We’re getting a lot better as a team, competing a lot better and getting really good results right now.
“Of course we are still very early in the season. We have to keep that.
“It’s going to be a long, long marathon, but we got off to a really good start.”
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Arteta’s men dominated all the way but Gabriel had to step over the line from inches after Bukayo Saka’s corner somehow snuck through the box without anyone getting a touch.
Xhaka, whose work alongside Thomas Partey gave Arsenal an iron grip in midfield, his instinctive reaction forced an apology from BT Sport interviewer Des Kelly – and an embarrassed smile from himself.
The Swiss midfielder added: “From start to finish we deserved to win.
“We were the much, much better team and we are so happy everything is going so well.
“At the end of the season nobody asks you how you won in November, December or January.
“We’re trying to get as many points as possible and then we’ll see.”
Arsenal have been at the top at the end of every weekend since their win at Bournemouth on August 20 and Arteta added: “It was a big win for us and another step.
“Coming here against a top opponent, world-class players all over the pitch, dominating the game and actually winning it is very meaningful. Hopefully it will give the guys even more confidence.
“When we lost at Manchester United, there were moments when we lacked the discipline to do what you have to do, otherwise you will be punished.
“But we learned that lesson really well and it was a fantastic achievement to see the team take another step.
“We were under pressure because we lost the top spot on Saturday. We set up the game to come here and win and the guys did it. You were phenomenal.”
Chelsea boss Graham Potter, who has now lost consecutive Prem games without a goal, admitted his team were second best.
Potter said: “You could see the difference between the two teams in terms of confidence, structure and collaboration.
“As much as it’s not nice to say, Arsenal deserved to win the game and were the better team. We have to take that and use it as motivation to improve.”
Chelsea’s only shot on target was a first-half performance by Kai Havertz, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s only significant contribution was a booking for a feeble foul on Ben White.
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Raheem Sterling struggled too, and Potter accepted, “We’re not as fluid and in a place where we’re not good enough as I would like.
“There are many reasons for this, but we clearly have to improve here too.”