By Mike Collett
LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal became the third team to top the Premier League this season after beating Everton 2-1 on Saturday but even if their stay is a short one, there seems little doubt they will remain serious title contenders.
Manchester City have led from the opening day, apart from one week when Manchester United moved to the summit, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men can regain first position by sinking their neighbours at Old Trafford on Sunday.
United could also go joint top by defeating City by four goals or more and, while there is still three-quarters of the season ahead, no one will under-estimate Arsenal’s claims for a first title since 2004.
After losing 2-0 at home to West Ham United on the opening day, Arsenal’s only other league defeat was a 2-0 reverse at champions Chelsea last month.
Since then they have won four straight league games including a 3-0 demolition of United at the Emirates.
With sixth from bottom Chelsea’s title bid almost over already, Arsenal’s challenge is gaining significant momentum.
Arsene Wenger’s team last topped the table in February 2014 and, while the Frenchman admitted it was too early to talk of titles, he was upbeat after Saturday’s victory arrived courtesy of headers from Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny.
“Let’s keep going,” he told Sky Sports. “Let us continue to grow. Let’s get the humility, the desire, to grow as a team.
“We lost the first game here at the Emirates and I don’t think anyone would have said after that game that we would be top of the league tonight.
“But that shows we can recover from setbacks and if you work hard together and recover together you have a chance.”
A key to Arsenal’s recent run has been Giroud’s form in front of goal. The tall Frenchman has been swapping leading the line with Theo Walcott and he did not let his manager down after being picked to start on Saturday.
Giroud deftly headed the opener after 36 minutes, his third goal in three games, after also scoring as a substitute in last week’s 3-0 win over Watford and Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich.
“He comes on and makes a difference. When he starts he makes a difference as well,” said Wenger.
“There have been a lot of questions about our strikers but Walcott is outstanding and Giroud is outstanding at the moment too.”
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)