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Arsenal fight back to earn precious 2-2 draw at Chelsea

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Arsenal staged a stunning fightback from two goals down as Leandro Trossard’s late equaliser rescued a dramatic 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.

 

Mikel Arteta’s team were 13 minutes away from their first Premier League defeat this season after Cole Palmer’s early penalty and Mykhailo Mudryk’s second-half goal put Chelsea in control.

But a miscued pass from Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez allowed Declan Rice to give Arsenal a lifeline and Trossard bundled home the leveller with six minutes left.

Arsenal’s gritty comeback extended their unbeaten start to the league season to nine games, leaving them in second place behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference.

It was another display of the character and spirit pulsing through Arsenal over the last 18 months, qualities that are underpinning their bid to finally win the club’s first title since 2004.

 

For Chelsea, it was a hammer blow after they were on the brink of delivering the first signficant statement victory of Mauricio Pochettino’s maiden season in charge.

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The Blues have failed to beat Arsenal on home turf since 2018 and they will never get a better chance to inflict defeat on their London rivals.

Following a minute’s silence to mark the death of former Manchester United and England star Bobby Charlton earlier on Saturday, Chelsea had made a vibrant start in the torrential rain.

The Blues took the lead in the 15th minute after William Saliba’s out-stretched arm blocked Mudryk’s header.

Chelsea’s penalty appeal initially looked set to be ignored, but referee Chris Kavanagh eventually awarded it after being advised by VAR to consult the pitchside monitor.

Palmer calmly drilled the spot-kick past David Raya to claim his second goal since signing from Manchester City earlier this season.

Rice led the Arsenal response as the midfielder fired narrowly wide of the far post from an acute angle.

Late Surge

Palmer was inches away from scoring again with a low drive that fizzed wide from the edge of the area.

READ  London is Red: Arsenal reclaim top spot with Chelsea win as Aubameyang struggles

Pochettino told Arteta not to go into coaching when the pair played together at Paris Saint-Germain, advice the Arsenal boss will be pleased he ignored.

The pair, who this week described their relationship as “like brothers” shared a warm embrace before kick-off, but there was little love lost between their teams.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka was singled out for some crude challenges by Marc Cucurella, while three players were booked in a feisty half.

Raya gifted Chelsea their second goal in the 48th minute when the Arsenal keeper failed to follow the flight of Mudryk’s miscued cross from the left flank as it drifted over his head into the far corner.

Mudryk’s fortuitous strike was also a painful twist for Arsenal after he spurned them to sign for Chelsea last season.

Raya has been preferred to Arsenal’s former first choice keeper Aaron Ramsdale in recent weeks, but has looked far from comfortable at times.

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Raya’s confidence was shaken by his latest mistake and he almost handed Chelsea another goal with a wayward pass that Palmer intercepted but was unable to convert from 12 yards.

It was a crucial miss as Sanchez returned the favour in the 77th minute with a woeful pass that was seized on by Rice, who gratefully lofted his shot into the empty net from 25 yards.

Suddenly, Chelsea looked riddled with nerves and Arteta’s side made them pay in the 84th minute.

Saka curled a cross to the far post and Trossard got in front of Malo Gusto to slot home from close range.

Eddie Nketiah should have capped Arsenal’s remarkable late surge, but the striker fired wide from a golden chance to steal all three points.

AFP

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Dominant Arsenal thump Newcastle to close gap on title rivals

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ruthless Arsenal trash Burnley to close gap at top of table

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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.

READ  Dominant Arsenal thump Newcastle to close gap on title rivals

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.

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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.

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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.

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Super Eagles move up 14 places in latest FIFA ranking

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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.

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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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