Arsenal Extend Premier League Lead, Leeds Climb Out Of Bottom Three
The Arsenal-Leicester City match in progress.© AFP
Arsenal opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League thanks to a 1-0 win at Leicester on Saturday as Leeds beat Southampton 1-0 to give new boss Javi Gracia a winning start. The Gunners snapped a four-game winless streak with two late goals at Aston Villa last week to take back control of the title race after briefly being usurped at the top of the table by Manchester City.
Mikel Arteta‘s men needed no such drama at the King Power and should have run out far more convincing winners.
“For the amount of time we dominated ball possession, territory and the amount of situations we had in the final third, we should have created much more and scored more goals,” said Arteta.
“When you don’t, you have to be exceptional in your defensive work and we conceded one shot. Defensively we were outstanding.”
Arteta’s decision to start both Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard in the front three at the expense of Eddie Nketiah paid dividends. Trossard had a brilliant first half strike into the top corner controversially ruled out by a VAR review for a foul by Ben White on Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward.
But Martinelli was not to be denied one minute into the second period when he coolly slotted home from Trossard’s pass. Bukayo Saka had a second goal ruled out for offside as Arsenal failed to turn their domination into a more convincing scoreline.
However, they did enough to pile the pressure on second-placed City ahead of their trip to Bournemouth later on Saturday.
Leeds end long wait for win
Leeds had not won a league game since before the World Cup break, a run which saw Jesse Marsch sacked. But they snapped that streak in a clash between the bottom two before kick-off at Elland Road.
Junior Firpo scored the only goal 13 minutes from time to lift Leeds out of the relegation zone. “The club needed it after 10 games without a win,” said Gracia after his first match in charge.
“I’m very happy for everyone who works for the club, the fans and especially the players because they were working without rewards.”
West Ham were the other big winners of the day in the battle to beat the drop as four goals in the final 20 minutes potentially saved David Moyes’ job in a 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
According to reports this week, the former Manchester United manager faced the sack if the Hammers lost. Two goals in three minutes from Danny Ings transformed the mood around the London Stadium before Declan Rice and Michail Antonio sealed West Ham’s second league win since October.
Everton slipped back into the bottom three after losing 2-0 at home to Aston Villa.
Ollie Watkins’ penalty and Emi Buendia’s strike condemned Sean Dyche to a first home defeat since taking charge of the Toffees.
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