Amid endless transfer speculation and frustration along with several untimely injuries, Arsenal earned an impressive victory over an equally distracted Tottenham squad, 1-0, in the newest chapter of the North London Derby.
Of course, the win only opened up an avenue for more jokes about Arsene Wenger—who has been criticized this summer for his lack of spending—like this one from the Mirror's football Twitter account:
The whistle goes for 1-0 to Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger contentedly puts the club chequebook back in his pocket http://t.co/gbdMyZCfAT— MirrorFootball (@MirrorFootball) September 1, 2013
Nevertheless, for as much flak as Arsenal has gotten, this was a massive win over a very good club that has made several improvements this summer, and they now have six points in three matches, surpassing Manchester United.
Clearly, we are in for a scintillating, unpredictable year in the EPL.
Let's take a look at the top performers from Sunday's battle at the Emirates.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
We'll start with the obvious, as the Frenchman scored the game-winning goal in the 23rd minute after coolly slotting in an excellent delivery from Theo Walcott:
Here's another angle of the goal, courtesy of FourFourTom on Twitter, who rightly calls Giroud's movement towards the near post "world class:"
But it wasn't just his goal that stood out.
According to WhoScored.com, Giroud fired off five shots (two on target) and displayed his dominance in the air, winning a ridiculous seven of nine aerial duels. He also completed both of his attempted take-ons, per Squawka.
Although he struggled to complete many passes or showcase much accuracy in distribution, Giroud exhibited the movement and positioning to be a dangerous threat up front for the majority of the game—and that's precisely what Arsenal, a team with lots of talent on the wings, needed.
Andros Townsend, Tottenham
Tottenham controlled 57 percent of the possession on Sunday, but the Spurs lacked creativity in the final third and were only able to put five shots on target.
That void of creativity wasn't any fault of Andros Townsend's, though.
The 22-year-old looked intent on making something happen, and although there were a few times where that resulted in a bit of unnecessary selfishness, you have to give him credit for taking it upon himself to create some attacking chances.
In the end, he finished with three shots (two on target), a match-high (by far) six completed take-ons and one key pass that set up a potential goal-scoring opportunity.
His pace, dribbling ability and creative playmaking were unrivaled on Sunday, as he was a major reason why Tottenham was able to make Arsenal sweat in the final 45 minutes.
Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
Ho-hum. Just another brilliant, orchestrating performance from Santi Cazorla. Nothing to see here.
Cazorla was world class today. Unreal performance.— FlittsTheGooner (@FlittsTheGooner) September 1, 2013
The man who has made world-class outings common was once again vital for Arsenal, stringing together the right passes and serving as the engine that makes the Gunners attack go.
Who was the Man of the Match?
The 28-year-old Spaniard completed more passes than any other Arsenal player (55) at an impressive 82 percent success rate, he created more key chances than anyone else in the match (3), and he was accurate on his crosses and on set pieces.
It's difficult to overstate Cazorla's worth to this squad. He isn't always flashy, but he links everything together in the midfield with his world-class playmaking ability.
That was once again on display Sunday.