Arsenal were resilient in the face of late Leicester pressure to secure a huge three points with a 1-0 win.
While Manchester City failed to hold on to their own 1-0 lead just up the road against Nottingham Forest last week, Arsenal managed it.
The Gunners made the trip to the King Power knowing a win would drastically help their title charge given it would extend the gap between Manchester City and themselves to five points, albeit briefly.
While it wasn’t a trademark blistering start from the visitors, Arsenal dominated possession in the opening exchanges. The Gunners thought they had opened the scoring when Leandro Trossard fired home a stunner, but VAR intervened to chalk it off after a foul on Danny Ward in the build-up.
The decision seemed to suck the life out of what was an intruiging first-half, though the Gunners felt they should have been awarded a spot-kick soon after.
The second-half started in dramatic fashion though, with Gabriel Martinelli guiding the ball home but sustaining an injury in the process after Wilfred Ndidi stood on the Brazilian’s knee-cap in the process of the winger scoring.
Arsenal’s 1-0 win means the Gunners extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five point, for the time being at least.
With City not playing until the evening away at Bournemouth, Arteta can watch Arsenal’s title rivals in a more relaxed manner now that his men got the job done.
The Gunners now gear up for two home games in succession, with the first coming in the form of a second meeting with Everton in four weeks on Wednesday followed by the visit of Bournemouth next weekend.
As for 14th-placed Leicester, Brendan Rodgers should harbour some concerns with his side so blunt in attack for so long.
Just weeks after the Arsenal boss was left seething over the fact Brentford’s equaliser was allowed to stand, he may feel hard done by once again.
The first flashpoint came when Trossard thought he had scored the game’s opening goal with a fantastic finish from the edge of the ara, but VAR told referee Craig Pawson to take another look at it.
Upon multiple viewings, the official spotted that Arsenal right-back Ben White had held Foxes’ goalkeeper Danny Ward’s arm and prevented him from catching the ball.
Just minutes later, Saka was sent tumbling down in the penalty area by Harry Souttar who seemed to fall onto the Arsenal attacker as he was about to leap for a header.
This time, however, VAR did not intervene and deemed the incident not enough to warrant a penalty for the visitors. Arteta cut a bemused figure on the touchline.
With Eddie Nketiah resigned to a role on the bench as a result of a minor knock and Gabriel Jesus still recovering from knee surgery, Arteta had to think outside the box when it came to his forward line.
He opted to deploy January signing Leandro Trossard from the start for the second successive game and entrusted the former Brighton man to cause havoc in the false nine role.
The Belgian showed some lovely link-up play, often dropping deep to then find Saka in a threatening position out on the right-flank. Trossard thought he’d fired his side in front, but it wasn’t to be after VAR’s ruling.
What Trossard did manage was an assist, sending Martinelli through on goal with a fantastic nutmeg pass through the legs of Leicester defender Souttar.
Shortly after, he was replaced by Nketiah with 20 minutes left to play.
Dominant Arsenal thump Newcastle to close gap on title rivals
Arsenal proved their Premier League title credentials as they recorded their sixth straight win with a dominant display against Newcastle.
The result sees Mikel Arteta’s side sit two points behind leaders Liverpool and a point behind second-placed Manchester City at the top of the table.
The outcome of this contest appeared inevitable from the moment visiting defender Sven Botman turned the ball in after Gabriel’s header from a corner had been well saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Loris Karius.
While there was an element of bad luck to that for the Dutch defender, who simply could not get out of the way as his Newcastle team-mate Tino Livramento tried to clear, there was little else about Arsenal’s performance that was owed to good fortune.
The Gunners’ intensity and fluent passing repeatedly carved Eddie Howe’s side apart, particularly down the Magpies’ left flank with Livramento and Botman enduring difficult evenings.
Kai Havertz swept in a deserved second shortly after, with Gabriel Martinelli making the most of indecision in the Newcastle defence to cut the ball back into the German forward’s path.
With Arsenal continuing to press, Bukayo Saka twisted and turned Livramento one way and then another before dispatching a left-foot shot into the bottom left corner add to the hosts’ advantage.
Arteta also enjoyed the luxury of being able to take off his captain Martin Odegaard, Havertz and Saka well before full-time after Jakub Kiwior’s effort deflected past the helpless Karius from another Declan Rice corner.
Newcastle, who remain eighth in the table, managed a late consolation courtesy of Joe Willock’s looping header, but there was little else for the visiting supporters to cheer.
By this stage last term Arsenal’s title challenge had already begun to implode, with defeats by Everton and City sandwiched either side of a home draw against Brentford.
In the end they finished five points behind Pep Guardiola’s side, having enjoyed an eight-point advantage towards the end of January.
However, while their early-season form has not been as impressive this time around, they look to be peaking nicely for the run-in.
An outstanding sequence of results since January has included a deserved victory over Liverpool, and they have now scored 25 goals and conceded just three time in six matches in the English top flight.
Not only are they playing with the swagger of early last season, there seems to be a new resilience to this Arsenal team that has perhaps not been evident since their last title triumph in 2004.
At times in the intervening period, Arsenal have been notably targeted aerially by other Premier League sides at corners and free-kicks.
However, Arteta has a physically imposing side – with the likes of Gabriel, Ben White, Kiwior and William Saliba all capable in the air – and no side has scored more set-piece goals than the Gunners’ 19 this term.
Ruthless Arsenal trash Burnley to close gap at top of table
Bukayo Saka scored twice as Arsenal continued their blistering goalscoring form to thrash Burnley and close the gap at the top of the Premier League to two points.
Following their 6-0 win at West Ham last week Arsenal were soon among the goals again, captain Martin Odegaard opening the scoring on four minutes with a crisp strike into the bottom corner after Gabriel Martinelli’s pass.
Saka converted from the spot after Lorenz Assignon fouled Leandro Trossard in the box.
The England forward got his second just after the restart, latching on to a clever Odegaard pass then cutting inside and rifling a shot into the roof of the net.
Kai Havertz’s scuffed effort was blocked in the box but Trossard was alert to curl in for his third goal in as many league games.
Jakub Kiwior’s long throw down the line then found an unmarked Havertz, who ghosted in behind the defence and drilled past home goalkeeper James Trafford to complete a comprehensive win for the Gunners.
Arsenal, who have 21 goals in five straight wins, move two points behind leaders Liverpool, while Burnley remain in the relegation zone.
Arsenal have scored five or more goals in successive away league matches for the first time in their history
The Gunners, following up last week’s comprehensive win at London Stadium, have started a calendar year with five consecutive league wins for the first time in their history, and blew Burnley away with their slick football.
And the in-form Gunners may even have scored more at Turf Moor, with Trossard going close on two occasions before he eventually found the net.
Havertz continually caused problems by picking up pockets of space with his movement off the ball while Saka, Trossard and Martinelli interchanged in the box to regularly threaten.
Odegaard led by example, scoring his first goal since December 2 and providing the assist for Saka’s second strike.
Saka has scored in four consecutive league appearances for the first time in his career, netting six across those four games, more than in his previous 19 league games.
When Mikel Arteta’s side are on song, they are hard to stop.
Goalkeeper David Raya didn’t have a save to make as Arsenal kept consecutive top-flight clean sheets for just the second time this season.
Arteta’s side travel to Porto in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, before hosting Newcastle next Saturday (20:00 GMT) as they look to maintain their flawless start to the year.
Clarets suffer another damaging home defeat
Burnley were comprehensively beaten after putting in a dismal display at home, with manager Vincent Kompany watching despondently in the stands because of a touchline ban.
The Clarets did not attempt a shot on target in a match for the first time since Boxing Day and were under pressure from the first minute.
Kompany’s side have conceded 26 first-half goals in 25 games, more than any other team in the Premier League this season.
Being caught out by a long throw for Arsenal’s fifth goal and failing to track Havertz’s run into the box summed up the woeful defending that means Burnley – seven points from safety – are fighting against the odds to remain in the division.
To compound their misery, midfielder Aaron Ramsey was stretchered off after suffering a seemingly serious knee injury and requiring oxygen in the 63rd minute.
Super Eagles move up 14 places in latest FIFA ranking
The Super Eagles are now 14 places higher in the latest FIFA ranking following a great showing at the just-concluded 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Nigeria lost to Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the competition concluded last weekend and have deservedly climbed up the FIFA ladder after that impeccable showing.
“Indeed, across the two continents, no fewer than six teams have scaled ten places or more. Amongst the African sides, Côte d’Ivoire (39th, up 10) reap the rewards of their continental triumph on home soil, secured following an eventful tournament campaign,” FIFA wrote on its website while announcing the latest ranking.
“Beaten finalists Nigeria (28th, up 14) make significant strides but are no match for the Angola side they ousted in the last eight (93rd, up 24), who are the biggest climbers in the latest instalment of the global ranking.”
The latest move makes the Super Eagles Africa’s number three team only behind Morocco (who are 12th) and Senegal, who are ranked 17th.
Nigeria displaced Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria, who had a poor outing at the AFCON, to make Africa’s top three.
Meanwhile, Argentina maintained the top spot on the global scene and are followed by France and England.
Belgium, Brazil, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Croatia in that order, complete the top 10 best teams in the world.
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