Arsenal moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League as early goals by Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard fired them to a 2-1 victory at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
In freezing temperatures Arsenal made a lightning fast start and the points always looked secure from the moment captain Odegaard doubled their advantage in the 13th minute.
Saka had given Mikel Arteta’s side the lead in the sixth minute after some intricate link-up play sent him clear.
Wolves re-grouped and gradually began to make a few inroads although Arsenal were untroubled until Matheus Cunha shot powerfully past home keeper David Raya after 86 minutes to set up an unexpectedly nervy climax.
Arsenal have 33 points from 14 games with champions Manchester City, who host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, on 29 and Liverpool and Aston Villa, also in action on Sunday, on 28.
“Football is not perfect, but I’m really happy with the way we played,” Arsenal manager Arteta said.
“It should have been a much bigger scoreline. We made a mistake and they take the chance, and it’s game on in the Premier League. We had chances and we didn’t put them away.”
After running Manchester City so close for so long last season only to fall short there were fears that Arsenal might struggle to reach such heights again this time.
But Arteta’s side are showing the sort of consistency that is required for a long title race.
“We have to keep winning matches and performing the way we are. That’s the challenge, to keep doing that every three days because we have another important game at Luton,” added Arteta.
Just as against Lens in the Champions League in midweek when they scored five times in the first half, Arsenal flew out of the traps to take control against Wolves.
The opener was typical of Arsenal’s attacking play as Saka linked with Gabriel Jesus before Takehiro Tomiyasu played the ball through to the young England forward who smashed his finish past Wolves keeper Jose Sa.
Arsenal doubled their lead with another team goal, this time Oleksandr Zinchenko playing a one-two with Jesus who cut a pass back to Odegaard who side-footed a clinical finish.
A third goal proved elusive, however, and when Cunha beat Raya with a curling left-footed effort late on Wolves suddenly looked capable of rescuing an unlikely point.