Mikel Arteta is bringing a feel-good factor back to Arsenal not seen since the Invincibles days, according to Martin Keown.
The Gunners have made a wonderful start to the season and entered the international break top of the Premier League with six wins from seven matches played.
With a crucial clash with north London rivals Tottenham, it’s time for Arteta’s side to prove they have what it takes to mount a real challenge for the title.
In the 2003/04 season, Arsenal icon Arsene Wenger led his team to the Premier League title without losing a single game during the campaign.
That streak eventually stretched to 49 games and marked one of the most dominating spells in English football history, while also making history with a record yet to be broken.
While Arteta’s side are currently far from such a feat, things appear to be on the right track, with an impressive summer transfer window quickly paying dividends on the pitch.
Gabriel Jesus arrived from Man City to give the Gunners an attacking flair they have lacked in recent years, as they have also strengthened at the back, with William Saliba emerging as one of the best young defensive talents in Europe and Oleksandr Zinchenko bringing a new threat from the back.
And, on the eve of what could be a crucial home clash against their biggest rivals, Arsenal legend Keown insists things are looking up in the red half of north London and that “the electricity” at the Emirates Stadium is back.
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Speaking on White and Jordan, Keown said: “These guys are building up a reputation, it’s something that doesn’t happen overnight.
“I remember I was standing in a tunnel and people were looking at Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit and thinking, ‘It’s over before it starts’ – but it took a long time.
“From 1997 to our invincibility in 2004, it was about building a reputation. Now they are rebuilding it.
“Everyone thought Arsenal had a soft underbelly but it’s not quite there anymore.
“The two central defenders, Saliba and Gabriel, are two tough guys. They are strong and win battles.
“Even Granit Xhaka is becoming a fan favourite. Who knew that would happen? So there is a change taking place.
“Arsenal are resurfacing.
“I’ve been really hugely impressed with Arsenal this season, they’re a different Arsenal.
“Going to Brentford and winning like they did, categorically… if you go 12 months ago it was a terrible start for Arsenal against the same team but they almost bullied Brentford this time, played them at their own game.
“Arsenal are really stepping up a gear. Spurs players entering this stadium tomorrow in the Emirates will see something very different.
“It’s a unified ground now with the fans and the players, they believe 100 per cent in this team and there’s an electricity that Spurs players wouldn’t have noticed or played against before.
“Arsenal have momentum, they win games, they chase teams, they don’t sit back – they do what the Invincibles would have done, or Arsenal’s first teams.
“It’s a return to an Arsenal team that we once knew.
“Standing in their path is a really exceptional manager with a really well-oiled squad in Antonio Conte and Tottenham, he’s a really top manager and they’re unbeaten this season.
“So it’s a huge game and it’s really hard to call. Where Arsenal and Spurs are, it’s as even as I remember, ever.
“I think it would be a huge disappointment for Spurs if they didn’t win a trophy. They are the best Spurs team I have seen in years.
“But I felt every time we played these games that it was more about playing not with your heart, but playing with your head. All around you there is a storm – the fans, the noise…
“When I look back on some of those games, I’ve seen it all, but what we’re seeing now is the closest these two clubs have ever been, and that’s when there’s more than never.
Tune in to talkSPORT for EXCLUSIVE LIVE commentary from Arsenal v Tottenham in the Premier League, Saturday October 1, kick-off: 12.30pm