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Bukayo Saka dominates as Arsenal take eight-point lead in title race




Bukayo Saka scored twice and provided an assist in a brilliant performance to help Mikel Arteta’s side extend their lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

The Gunners were clinical in the final third, with Gabriel Martinelli firing them in front before Bukayo Saka found space in the box to stroke in a second before half-time. Palace hit the post through Wilfried Zaha and threatened on the break, but their miserable run continued, with the decision to sack Patrick Vieira not paying immediate dividends.

Granit Xhaka made it 3-0 with a scruffy finish from Leandro Trossard’s incisive through ball to put Arsenal in complete control. Palace midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp did at least score their first Premier League goal for a month by smashing in a loose ball from a corner, but Saka lashed in Kieran Tierney’s cutback to make it 4-1 soon after.

Palace are just three points above the relegation zone despite being in 12th place. By contrast, Mikel Arteta’s side have now notched up 69 points to reach their same points tally as last season in 10 games fewer. Here are the talking points from the match at the Emirates Stadium.

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Martinelli has become a figurehead for Arsenal in recent weeks. With Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah both sidelined, the Brazilian has stepped up to the plate to provide goals with regularity.

Still only 21 years old, Martinelli is now established as a top-class Premier League striker, with his goal here taking him onto 13 for the season – only Erling Haaland (28), Harry Kane (21), Ivan Toney (16) and Marcus Rashford (14) have more.

Despite the huge burden of starting week-in, week-out, Martinelli still looks razor sharp inside the box. His finish showed just how dangerous he can be, with a good first touch, a quick change of direction and a devastating finish undoing Palace.

Like Martinelli, Saka is still only 21 years old, but his talent – and importance to Arsenal – belies his youth. He was absolutely electric against Palace, providing the cross for Martinelli’s goal, making it 2-0 with an assured finish from Ben White ’s cute pass and adding gloss with a second goal from Tierney’s pass.

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Saka’s consistency is such that he now has 12 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season and has reached double figures for both statistics for the first time in the same season. The achievement is underlined by the fact that he’s the first Arsenal player to do so in a Premier League season since Alexis Sánchez in 2016/17.

Only Haaland (33) and Kane (23) have more Premier League goal involvements than Saka (22) in the Premier League this season. Meanwhile, only Lionel Messi (13), Kevin de Bruyne (12), Neymar (11) and Randal Kolo Muani (10) have more league assists in Europe’s top five leagues. His 12 league goals means he has overtaken his tally for last season, despite playing 10 games fewer, directly matching his team’s upward curve.

William Saliba had played every minute of Arsenal’s Premier League season before Sunday. The Frenchman’s injury in the Europa League defeat by Sporting on Thursday came as a major blow to the Gunners.

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Rob Holding came on for Saliba earlier in the week and he took his place against Palace, lining up alongside Gabriel Magalhaes to form a fresh centre-back partnership. The unfamiliar sight made some Arsenal fans uneasy – and there were some worrying signs early on.

Holding was guilty of diving in unsuccessfully to try and win the ball early on, with Zaha then hitting the post after cutting inside White. The 27-year-old was afforded a lot of time on ball by Palace and looked assured with it.

As Palace’s threat faded, Holding became more comfortable and passed his audition as Saliba’s stand-in. Jakub Kiwior was brought on to make his Premier League table and make an immediate impression with a strong challenge when left one-on-one with Zaha, so there is pressure on Holding’s place.

Palace are in the worst form of any side in the Premier League. Their position of 12th in the league table does not nearly tell the whole story: they are in danger of being relegated this season.

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Everton survive on dramatic final day scare as Leicester, Leeds relegated from Premier League





Everton have survived on the final day of the Premier League season by beating Bournemouth 1-0 at Goodison Park.

That means Leicester and Leeds have suffered relegation to the Championship. The Foxes kept their side of the bargain by beating West Ham 2-1 at the King Power, and they would have stayed up if Bournemouth had scored an equaliser on Merseyside.

Leicester’s relegation comes just seven years after they won the Premier League title. As for Leeds, they were beaten 4-1 by Tottenham at Elland Road to end their three-year stay in the top flight.

Everton sat on 33 points heading into the final day, with Leicester and Leeds both on 31 points. The Foxes boasted a far superior goal difference to their rivals, meaning they would stay up if they won and Everton drew. Leeds did not have the same luxury.

Within two minutes of the kick-off, Leeds’ hopes were in tatters. Son Heung-min teed up Harry Kane from around 12 yards out – and there was only going to be one outcome. The England captain smashed the ball into the top corner to silence Elland Road.

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The Foxes then made their move. Harvey Barnes played a nice one-two with Kelechi Iheanacho down the left channel before slotting the ball into the back of the net. Leicester fans, knowing they were now out of the relegation zone, went wild.

Leeds started the second half in the exact same way. Kane put Pedro Porro through on goal after some brilliant work before the Spaniard did the rest. Rasmus Kristensen told his Leeds team-mates to keep their heads up, but their fate was all but sealed.

As Leicester fans listened to their portable radios, the worst possible news filtered through. Standing on the edge of Bournemouth’s box, Abdoulaye Doucoure hit the sweetest strike of his life into the bottom corner and sent Everton into 17th spot.

Gary Neville summed up the response of Everton fans. He said: “Goosebumps! The slight deflection on the way through helps Doucoure but my word, it helps Everton Football Club more. This gantry is rocking like no gantry I’ve been in before. This ground is shaking!”

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Yet Leicester responded perfectly, as Wout Faes nodded in a second goal with just under 30 minutes left to play. It was now up to Everton to hang on to their lead. To the relief of everyone at Goodison Park, that is exactly what Sean Dyche’s side did.

Pablo Fornals pulled a late goal back for West Ham at the King Power, but they failed to find an equaliser. Over at Elland Road, Kane completed his brace before Lucas Moura scored on his final Tottenham appearance. Jack Harrison found the net for Leeds.

Everton’s Conor Coady said: “Relief is the main emotion. You don’t want to be part of this giant football club going down. This club has to rise and get better now.”

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Chukwueze’s stunning goal against Real Madrid wins LaLiga goal of the week





Samuel Chukwueze, Nigeria Super Eagles and Villarreal forward, has won the LaLiga Goal of the Week award for match day 28.

LaLiga announced Chukwueze as the winner on their Twitter handle on Friday.

Chukwueze’s second goal against Real Madrid in Villarreal’s 3-2 win at the Bernabeu last Saturday was selected among the four nominated.

With the score tied at 2-2 and just 10 minutes left, Chukwueze received a pass pushed the ball forward then curled the ball into the top corner to seal a 3-2 win for Villarreal.

He equalised for Villarreal after an own goal by Pau Torres had put Madrid 1-0 up.

His two goals in the win against Madrid took his tally to six in 27 league appearances this season.

Also, he has scored 13 goals and had 11 assists in 40 games in all competitions this season.

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Watch video of fight: Israel Adesanya knocks out Pereira to reclaim UFC middleweight title





Israel Adesanya has defeated Alex Pereira to reclaim the UFC middleweight belt title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 287.

The bout took place at the FTX Arena, Miami, Florida, on Sunday morning.

The Nigerian-born mixed martial artist knocked out the Brazilian in the fourth minute of the second round of the bout.

The victory is Adesanya’s first-ever win over Pereira who defeated and took the belt off him with a vicious fifth-round knockout in November 2022.

The Brazilian had also defeated him twice before that fight at the Maddison Square Garden in New York.

However, in their latest bout, Adesanya demonstrated an improvement in his discipline which had previously cost him against Pereira. He had a laser-like focus throughout the entire blurry exchanges of kicks and jabs.

He kept his hard mask of control through the first round despite the constant infuriation of Pereira’s low kick into his right calf.

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In the second round, however, he charged out of his reserved, calculating stance and flew after the Brazilians with strings of attacks.

Although Periera initially countered Adesanya’s moves and pinned him with a flurry of punches to the corner, the Nigerian-born fighter wriggled out of the trap with a vicious left hook, followed by a more debilitating right cross-jab that sent the Brazilian to the mat.

Adesanya then finished the job with some ground and pound and the referee was forced to call the match.

The win over Pereira is Adesanya’s 24th in his career in mixed martial arts (MMA) and he had suffered just two losses.

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