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English Premier League

Arsenal 4 – 1 Leeds United

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Arsenal 4 - 1 Leeds United

Arsenal 4 – 1 Leeds United. Gabriel Jesus scored his first Arsenal goals since October as the Gunners restored their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable win over Leeds.

Second-placed Manchester City’s victory at home to Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime had cut the gap to five points, but Jesus’ first-half penalty – awarded for Luke Ayling’s mistimed challenge on the Brazilian – put Mikel Arteta’s side in front just after the half-hour mark.

Leeds had created the better opportunities in the opening stages of the contest, with Rasmus Kristensen, Crysencio Summerville and Jack Harrison all testing home keeper Aaron Ramsdale.

But they fell further behind two minutes into the second half when Ben White converted Gabriel Martinelli’s low cross via the underside of the crossbar.

Arsenal dominated from that moment and Jesus – recalled to the side in place of Bukayo Saka – made it 3-0 with a clinical first-time finish from Leandro Trossard’s drilled cross.

Kristensen pulled a goal back for Leeds via a heavy deflection off Oleksandr Zinchenko, but Granit Xhaka’s late header from Martin Odegaard’s delivery completed the scoring with six minutes remaining.

The defeat leaves Javi Gracia’s team hovering a point above the relegation zone with 10 games left to play.

For large parts of the opening half hour, it looked like proving a frustrating afternoon for the Gunners as they toiled against the visitors’ disciplined and organised rearguard.

In a frantic opening minute to the contest, Kristensen’s fierce effort from the corner of the area was parried by Aaron Ramsdale before Martinelli had a goal-bound strike blocked at the other end.

But the Premier League leaders lacked tempo and rhythm in the early stages and were indebted to Ramsdale yet again in the minutes leading up to Jesus’s opener.

Crysencio Summerville sent a low shot into the arms of the Arsenal goalkeeper after a slaloming run, before Harrison’s powerful close-range effort was palmed away by the 24-year-old.

However, Jesus’ confident penalty appeared to settle the nerves of the home side, who saw the game out with consummate ease to earn manager Arteta his 100th win as Arsenal boss in all competitions.

Before kick-off, both teams paid tribute to former Arsenal and Leeds player David Rocastle, who passed away just over 22 years ago.

Mascots from both clubs carried shirts bearing the late midfielder’s name onto the pitch as the teams emerged from the Emirates Stadium tunnel.

Leeds boss Gracia said before the game that the recent international break had left his squad with “big problems” before the trip to north London, with Max Wober and Wilfried Gnonto suffering injuries while playing for their countries.

The visitors lined up in a 4-3-3 formation at the Emirates, with Crysencio Summerville and Luis Sinisterra either side of Brenden Aaronson up front, and Jack Harrison, Rasmus Kristensen and Marc Roca in midfield.

Harrison did an excellent job of stifling Odegaard in the opening exchanges, having apparently been given strict instructions to man-mark the Norwegian when the Gunners were in possession.

Unfortunately for Gracia’s team, they failed to make the most of three good first-half opportunities and rarely looked like recovering from Jesus’ first-half penalty.

With games against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Bournemouth coming up in their next six games, April is set to be a crucial month for Gracia’s team as they look to keep their heads above water.

source – BBC

English Premier League

Liverpool 2-1 Brighton

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Liverpool 2-1 Brighton

Liverpool 2-1 Brighton.Liverpool moved top of the Premier League – for a couple of hours at least – as Mohamed Salah ended Brighton’s resistance to secure a vital victory at Anfield.

With title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal meeting later on Sunday, Liverpool knew the significance of beating the resolute Seagulls in the early kick-off.

But Brighton striker Danny Welbeck stunned the hosts by thumping a strike into the top corner with only 87 seconds on the clock.

Liverpool responded strongly and began to dominate possession, with Luis Diaz poking home the equaliser from close range before the half-hour mark.

Salah, making his first league start since New Year’s Day, had missed a host of chances but eventually made one count when he coolly slotted in from Alexis Mac Allister’s pass in the 65th minute.

The hosts thought they had all but sealed the win when Diaz fired in after 73 minutes but his effort was ruled out by the video assistant referee for a tight offside.

Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk came closest to snatching a draw for the visitors, but saw two headers saved by home keeper Caoimhin Kelleher in quick succession.

Former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana also fired wide just moments after coming on as a substitute late on.

Ultimately Salah’s strike proved the difference as relieved Reds fans greeted the final whistle with an exuberant celebration.

Liverpool move on to 67 points, three ahead of Arsenal – who have a superior goal difference – and four in front of City before their match at Etihad Stadium.

The title race has developed into a fascinating three-way battle where it feels like every dropped point could be crucial.

And, with Liverpool playing before their two rivals go head-to-head, Easter Sunday has long been circled as a potentially pivotal day in the league campaign.

All the Reds could do was focus on winning their game against a Brighton side with a good record against Jurgen Klopp’s team, and led by a manager in Roberto de Zerbi being touted as a potential successor to the German.

The hosts had to show fight, belief and patience before Salah, not for the first time, ended up being the match-winner in a game of huge magnitude.

For more than an hour it had looked like it was not going to be the Egyptian forward’s day as a host of chances went begging for the Reds talisman.

Salah had seven shots in the first half without really stretching Brighton keeper Bart Verbruggen, while he could not quite reach Diaz’s dinked cross to the far post after half-time.

Another opportunity came when Mac Allister’s slick through ball cut through his former club’s defence and this time Salah found the bottom corner with a composed finish.

Only time will tell – especially with so many twists and turns to come in the remaining nine rounds of games – exactly how important this victory will be.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Luton Town

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Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Luton Town

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Luton Town. Son Heung-min scored a late winner as Tottenham recovered from a goal down to beat Luton and move into the top four of the Premier League.

Son collected half-time substitute Brennan Johnson’s clever pass before beating Hatters goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski with a low shot, which took a deflection off Daiki Hashioka on its way in.

Tahith Chong’s well-worked goal had given the Hatters an early lead, but Spurs responded well and equalised early in the second half when Johnson’s cross was turned into his own net by Issa Kabore.

Spurs laid siege to the Luton goal after restoring parity, but a series of crucial last-ditch challenges kept Ange Postecoglou’s team at bay – and Alfie Doughty somehow prevented Johnson’s close-range effort from rolling over the line.

However, there was nothing Luton could do about Son’s 15th goal of the season, which means Tottenham have come from behind to win four of their past five home Premier League matches.

Aston Villa will reclaim fourth place with a draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers later on Saturday. Luton, meanwhile, drop into the relegation zone.

Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham before the international break was described by Son as a “big wake-up call”, but it took Postecoglou’s team a while to hit their stride against Luton.

The opening goal was a sloppy one to concede, with Son dispossessed on the edge of the Luton area and Yves Bissouma beaten far too easily by Andros Townsend in the build-up to Chong’s crisp finish.

But Spurs were left cursing their luck when Son’s shot rattled the inside of the near post, rolled across the goalline, struck the other post and bounced clear – moments after Timo Werner had dragged a shot wide from an excellent position.

In the same move, Werner’s follow-up effort was blocked by Kabore before Teden Mengi blocked Pape Sarr’s goalbound shot on the line.

Tottenham have now failed to score a first-half goal in six consecutive games, but they were level early in the second half when Johnson – who replaced the ineffective Dejan Kulusevski at half-time – drilled a low ball across the face of goal and Kabore slammed it into his own net.

It seemed only a matter of time before Spurs’ relentless pressure would pay off, but when Doughty’s last-gasp intervention denied Johnson, Tottenham fans could have been forgiven for thinking it might not be their day.

When the second goal did arrive there was an element of luck about it, but it was a slice of good fortune Son and his team-mates deserved after going agonisingly close on more than one occasion.

Luton took less than three minutes to extend their club-record scoring run to 18 successive top-flight fixtures, but once again they were unable to retain their advantage.

Rob Edwards’ men are just the third side in Premier League history to lose three successive games in which they have led at half-time, after Aston Villa in May 2021 and Sunderland in April 2003.

The visitors even went close to doubling their advantage in the first half, but the retreating James Maddison produced a crucial block to deny Carlton Morris at the near post.

Luton continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack in the second half, with Ross Barkley and Jordan Clark both testing Guglielmo Vicario with low drives from the edge of the penalty area.

Kabore produced several important blocks after putting through his own net, and Kaminski and Doughty combined to keep out Johnson – but Spurs’ pressure finally told when Son’s shot crept in off the unfortunate Hashioka.

With trips to title-chasing Arsenal and Manchester City still to come before the end of the season, it appears Luton’s home form will be key to their hopes of preserving their Premier League status.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Sheffield United 3-3 Fulham

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Sheffield United 3-3 Fulham

Sheffield United 3-3 Fulham. Rodrigo Muniz scored with a spectacular injury-time bicycle kick as Fulham came back from two goals down to deny bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United a vital victory.

In the third of 14 scheduled additional minutes at the end of regulation time, Muniz connected with Adama Traore’s cross in an incredible second half at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United threw away a two-goal advantage to draw 2-2 at Bournemouth last time out and the Blades let slip another glorious winning chance, having been 3-1 ahead at the 86-minute mark.

But Fulham substitute Bobby de Cordova-Reid made an instant impact by shooting into the net from 25 yards to set up a frantic finish before Muniz grabbed his eighth goal in eight games.

The Blades had looked on course to secure what would have been only their fourth Premier League win of the season and went ahead through Ben Brereton Diaz, on loan from Villarreal, in the 58th minute.

Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo had given the ball away and Oli McBurnie produced an excellent cross from the left with the outside of his right boot, with Brereton Diaz converting.

The visitors equalised four minutes later when an unmarked Joao Palhinha headed in from Andreas Pereira’s right-wing corner.

But Chris Wilder’s team scored twice in a three-minute spell as they looked to have taken the game away from the London side.

Brereton Diaz pulled the ball back for McBurnie to put the hosts back in front in the 68th minute, and Chile international Brereton Diaz made it 3-1 by heading in Gustavo Hamer’s cross.

The hosts thought they had got a fourth when McBurnie finished, but it was ruled out by a video assistant referee (VAR) decision, which showed Vini Souza was standing in an offside position and blocking goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s view.

If that goal had been given, the Blades would surely have gone on to win, but once more they could not hold on to their advantage as Fulham fought back to leave with a point.

The result leaves the Blades seven points behind Nottingham Forest in 17th and Luton in 18th, but Wilder will be again reflecting on a missed opportunity.

They had only scored 24 goals in their previous 28 league matches and were heading for one of their best results of the season before the late drama.

Once again, defensive mistakes proved to be their undoing.

Palhinha was given far too much space for Fulham’s first, while Wilder will also be unhappy with the second goal conceded, before Muniz’s moment of brilliance.

Indeed, Fulham could have snatched a winner at the end, only for Ivo Grbic to deny Tom Cairney in the 16th minute of additional time.

Sheffield United have now conceded 24 goals in their past five home matches in all competitions.

This result comes after they lost 5-2 at home to Brighton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, suffered successive 5-0 league defeats by Aston Villa and Brighton and were hammered 6-0 by Arsenal.

Fulham came 10th in the Premier League last season and Marco Silva’s side are 12th, still with an outside chance of qualifying for next season’s Europa Conference League.

As it stands, finishing seventh would be enough to qualify, although if Championship side Coventry City won the FA Cup then Fulham would need to come in the top six.

Fulham are five points behind seventh-placed West Ham, but just like Sheffield United, will be wondering how they did not win this game.

source – BBC

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