Arsenal Sign Portuguese Midfielder Fabio Vieira From Porto FC

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of highly-rated Portuguese midfielder Fabio Vieira from FC Porto for a reported fee of £30m plus add-ons. The 22 year-old midfielder, who made 54 appearances during his time with Porto, developed through the Portuguese club’s youth academy, making his first team debut in June 2020 and was part of the Primeira Liga winning squads in both 2019/20 and 2021/22. The deal – which has seen him sign a long-term contract – has come as somewhat of a surprise to Gunners fans given Vieira hadn’t been one of the select few names being relentlessly linked with a move to the Emirates. However, the switch has been officially announced and Mikel Arteta can consider Vieira his first big signing of the summer window.

Fabio is a Portuguese Under-21 international and has scored an impressive 13 goals from his 21 appearances. He also represented his country at youth level, playing all five tournament matches as Portugal finished runners-up at the 2019 UEFA Under-19 Championship. During last season’s Primeira Liga winning season, Fabio made 27 appearances, scoring six goals and making 14 assists during the league campaign. Fabio will wear the number 21 shirt and join up with his new team mates soon for pre-season training. Everyone at Arsenal welcomes Fabio to the club.

Technical Director Edu said: “We’re so pleased to have completed the signing of Fabio from FC Porto. Fabio is a player with special qualities who is comfortable with the ball in the final third of the pitch. We are all looking forward to working with him and enjoying his future contribution to Arsenal. We will now continue to work hard and are looking forward to finishing this transfer window as strongly possible.”

Mikel Arteta added: ”I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent. Fabio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play. We welcome Fabio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season.”

Arsenal Welcome Young Signing Marquinhos From Sao Paulo

Nineteen-year-old forward Marquinhos has joined us from Sao Paulo on a long-term contract. The young Brazilian youth international, full name Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar, developed through the Sao Paulo youth system, progressing into the first team squad and making his first team debut as an 18-year-old last July. Marquinhos made 33 first team appearances during his time with Sao Paulo and was a part of the squad which won the Compeonato Paulista in 2021.

The young forward, who has represented Brazil at under-16 and under-17 levels, will travel to London from Brazil in the coming weeks to join up with his new team mates for pre-season training. Technical director Edu said: “We’re delighted to have completed the transfer with Sao Paulo, as Marquinhos was a player we had been watching for a while. At 19, he is still very young, so he is a player for the future. We look forward to Marquinhos now joining us for pre-season, making his new home, and continuing to grow and develop with us.” Everyone at Arsenal welcomes Marquinhos to the club.

The transfer is subject to the completion of regulatory processes. ESPN reported last month that the deal would be worth €3.5 million and that the clubs agreed a fee after Marquinhos rejected multiple contract offers from the Brazilian club and sources suggest Arsenal moved quickly to secure a cut-price agreement. Marquinhos is a left-footed forward also able to operate as a winger but he is viewed by Arsenal as a future prospect rather than an immediate first-team signing.

Arsenal 5 Everton FC 1

Manager Mikel Arteta said he was “in pain” after Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification despite a comfortable victory over Everton on the final day. Arteta’s side needed to beat Frank Lampard’s men and hope Tottenham lost at already relegated Norwich, but Spurs’ 5-0 win at Carrow Road meant the Gunners missed out on a top four-spot for a sixth successive season. The hosts took the lead midway through the first half as Gabriel Martinelli stroked home a penalty after his shot struck Alex Iwobi’s arm, with the spot-kick awarded after a video assistant referee check.

Eddie Nketiah nodded in following a corner to extend the hosts’ lead on 31 minutes, before substitute Donny van de Beek, in what is likely to be his last game for Everton, side-footed in. It proved to be a short reprieve as two second-half goals in three minutes ended the game as a contest. Both came from corners as Cedric Soares slotted home, then Gabriel poked in after Everton had initially cleared. Martin Odegaard added a late fifth as Arsenal finished in fifth place, two points behind Tottenham. Their fans were in good spirits as the players did a lap of the pitch to mark their return to the Europa League after missing out this season. But Arteta said he took no satisfaction from that achievement, with a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle on Monday having handed the crucial advantage.

For Everton, meanwhile, a record-equalling 13th away defeat meant they finished four points clear of the relegation zone. The Gunners did all they could to try to finish in the top four for the first time since 2016, but the damage had been done in their two previous games – defeats at north London rivals Spurs and resurgent Newcastle. Buoyed by the home crowd, who booed former Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli on his first Everton start, Odegaard was Arsenal’s key orchestrator and had two efforts blocked. Asmir Begovic, who replaced Jordan Pickford in goal, also denied Martinelli. Despite the disappointment of missing out on the top four, the season can still be seen as progress for Arteta’s young side. But the Arsenal boss will have to deal with the futures of Nketiah, midfielder Mohamed Elneny and striker Alexandre Lacazette, whose contracts all end this summer.

Newcastle United 2 Arsenal 0

Mikel Arteta slammed his Arsenal players and admitted they were ‘nowhere near Champions League level’ after a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle left their top-four dreams in tatters. A Ben White own goal and a late Bruno Guimaraes strike condemned the Gunners to a loss which keeps them in fifth position in the Premier League, two points behind Tottenham with one game to play. Arsenal must now beat Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday and hope that Spurs lose at Norwich, given the superior goal difference of their North London rivals.

Arteta’s side needed a win to move above Tottenham into fourth and put them in the driving seat to secure a Champions League spot heading into the final weekend of the season. But they were second best throughout and fell behind early in the second half when White turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Callum Wilson, who was making his first start since 27 December. Guimaraes, who has become a cult hero since joining Newcastle at the start of this year, then rounded off the impressive win when he drove into the net as Arsenal struggled to clear. Arsenal offered next to nothing, with Martin Dubravka only really tested once, with a 25-yard Mohamed Elneny shot in the second half.

Indeed, Newcastle could have won by more with Wilson coming so close to capping a dream return from injury with a stunning long-range effort that dropped just wide of the goal. The result, which also confirmed Chelsea’s finish in the top four. Newcastle, meanwhile, round off a season that provides encouragement for the future with a trip to Burnley.

Tottenham 3 Arsenal 0

Tottenham turned up the pressure on arch-rivals Arsenal in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League with an emphatic north London derby victory. Arsenal could have confirmed a place in the Premier League’s top four with a win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but endured a dismal night to now stand only one point clear of Spurs with two games left. In a feverish atmosphere, Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead from the spot in the 22nd minute after Son Heung-min was fouled by Cedric Soares, then added a second before the break with a stooping far-post header after Rodrigo Bentancur flicked on a corner.

In between, Arsenal had been reduced to 10 men when Rob Holding was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Son, while the South Korean finished off any hopes the Gunners had when he fired in from 10 yards two minutes after half-time. Such was the manner of this Spurs win – added to the momentum they are gathering under manager Antonio Conte – they must have increasing belief they can yet snatch a top-four place away from Arsenal. Conte’s team look so impressive, organised and solid in defence with the deadly pair of Kane and Son a permanent menace in attack.

Spurs have two eminently winnable fixtures remaining at home to struggling Burnley and at relegated Norwich City while Arsenal must travel to Newcastle United – no easy task these days – before a final home fixture against Everton, who may yet be fighting for survival. Mikel Arteta’s side were never given the chance to settle and once Kane put Spurs ahead it was all downhill, with Holding’s needless sending-off making an already difficult task impossible. The late hamstring injury to key defender Gabriel only added to their suffering but the positive for Arteta and his players is that their destiny remains firmly in their own hands. If Arsenal win their next two games they will be in next season’s Champions League.

Arsenal 2 Leeds United 1

Arsenal took a huge step towards securing Champions League football next season as they saw off an ill-disciplined Leeds United, with the 10-man visitors dropping into the Premier League relegation zone. It was a fourth successive win for Mikel Arteta’s side and one that puts them firmly in the driving seat for a top-four spot before Thursday’s north London derby at Tottenham. But Leeds’ early capitulation was entirely of their own making, with goalkeeper Illan Meslier gifting the hosts an opener before captain Luke Ayling was sent off for a needless lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.

Eddie Nketiah pounced on Meslier’s loose touch to open the scoring and then finished a swift move to double the Gunners’ lead before Ayling’s rash challenge left Leeds a man down for more than an hour. The Elland Road outfit did not have an effort on goal until Diego Llorente headed past Aaron Ramsdale in the 66th minute to tee up more of a nervy finish than anyone inside Emirates Stadium would have anticipated. Leeds applied some late pressure, sending Meslier up for set-pieces, but the fourth-placed hosts were never seriously in danger of losing their lead and now hold a four-point lead over Tottenham in fifth.

Defeat for Leeds, coupled with Everton’s win at Leicester, means Jesse Marsch’s side slip into the bottom three with three games remaining. With Spurs drawing at Liverpool on Saturday, Arsenal knew if they could successfully navigate this potential stumbling block they would head into one of the most crucial north London derbies in recent years on Thursday with a commanding lead over their rivals. The hosts were handed the ideal start when Meslier took a loose touch from Ayling’s pass and allowed Nketiah to pounce for the opener – a reward for both his persistent pressing and recent performances leading the Arsenal line.

Arsenal’s flowing attack toyed with the visitors as Martin Odegaard’s free-kick found its way onto the bar and Martinelli poked a half-volley over, only for the Gunners to be caught out from Leeds’ first corner. It made things slightly less comfortable than Arteta will have hoped for but his side got the vital win they needed before a trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where victory will confirm Arsenal’s return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.

West Ham United 1 Arsenal 2

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said it was the sign of a big team to be able to win ugly as the Gunners beat West Ham at London Stadium to reclaim fourth spot in the Premier League. The Gunners knew only a win would lift them back into the Champions League places after Tottenham beat Leicester earlier in the afternoon, but Mikel Arteta’s side responded by grinding out an important three points. It was Arteta’s centre-backs who came up with the goods, with Gabriel Magalhaes nodding the winner early in the second half after Rob Holding had opened the scoring from Bukayo Saka’s 38th-minute corner.

Jarrod Bowen did pull the Hammers level just before the break, controlling Vladimir Coufal’s cross and squeezing a strike into the bottom corner in what was a reward for a strong first-half performance. But David Moyes’ outfit failed to reach those levels after going behind for a second time – and defeat leaves them seventh, three points behind sixth-placed Manchester United with three games remaining.The Gunners are desperate to return to Europe’s elite competition next season and Arteta’s side have enjoyed the advantage of having no continental football this term, meaning all their resources can be focused on achieving a top-four finish for the first time since 2015-16. West Ham’s only realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League now is to win the Europa League – and Moyes’ team would be forgiven for having one eye on overturning their 2-1 deficit in the semi-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany on Thursday.

Arsenal struggled to get a foothold, though, before Eddie Nketiah’s clever run and low shot forced a corner, from which Holding climbed highest to head in Saka’s delivery for his first Premier League goal. Bowen’s smart finish pulled the Hammers level on the brink of half-time. But, after the hosts failed to properly clear a corner, Gabriel was left unmarked at the back post to head in Gabriel Martinelli’s 54th-minute cross, beating former Arsenal stopper Lukasz Fabianski at his near post. Nketiah could have sealed the success on the break, only to curl wide, but the 22-year-old continued to prove a threat after again being trusted to lead the line for Arsenal. The visitors were not at their fluent best, but as the battle with north London rivals Spurs hots up – and with the Gunners heading to Tottenham a week on Thursday – restoring their two-point advantage was the most important outcome for Arsenal.

Arsenal 3 Manchester United 1

Arsenal stepped up their claims for a place in the Premier League’s top four at the expense of Manchester United’s ambitions in a thriller at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners came into the game on an upswing after ending a run of three successive defeats with victory at Chelsea, while United were attempting to bounce back from a humiliating 4-0 loss at Liverpool. And Arsenal took three crucial points as the visitors paid the price for shambolic defending and a missed penalty by Bruno Fernandes that undermined an enterprising attacking display. Nuno Tavares put Arsenal in front after only three minutes following errors from Raphael Varane and Alex Telles, the defender turning in a simple finish after David de Gea saved Bukayo Saka’s shot.

Eddie Nketiah then had an effort ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside but after being called to look at his pitchside monitor the referee awarded a penalty for a foul by Telles on Saka immediately before Nketiah’s shot, and Saka converted from the spot. United were a real danger in attack, the returning Cristiano Ronaldo deservedly pulling a goal back before the break for his 100th Premier League goal. It set the scene for a United siege, only for Fernandes to waste their big chance by carelessly rolling a second-half spot-kick against the post after Tavares handled. Arsenal cashed in on the reprieve when Granit Xhaka sealed the win by lashing home the Gunners’ third from 25 yards with 20 minutes remaining.

Arsenal’s win completed a superb response to three league losses that had jeopardised their top-four hopes. Mikel Arteta’s side had to fight through adversity – they were not convincing defensively and had several escapes – but they seized their chances when they came to take full advantage of United’s carelessness in front of goal. Tavares gave them the perfect start and while goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had a mixed afternoon, he also made some crucial saves, one from Telles early on and another from Diogo Dalot proving significant. But Xhaka’s thumping drive gave De Gea no chance and there was a real mood of celebration inside Emirates Stadium at the final whistle.

Arsenal have inflicted serious damage on any slim hopes United may have had of reaching the top four while maintaining the pressure on north London rivals Tottenham in the battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Chelsea 2 Arsenal 4

Arsenal got their pursuit of a place in the Premier League’s top four back on track as they ended a run of three defeats with a crucial victory at Chelsea. The Gunners’ hopes of securing a place in next season’s Champions League had been significantly damaged by those losses but this win will provide renewed belief. Eddie Nketiah was selected ahead of out-of-sorts Alexandre Lacazette in Arsenal’s attack and he rewarded manager Mikel Arteta’s faith when he took advantage of Andreas Christensen’s weak back pass with a composed finish.

It was the start of a chaotic first half as Timo Werner equalised with a deflected shot four minutes later before Emile Smith Rowe showed a touch of class to beat Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy with a cool finish from the edge of the area. Chelsea were back on terms again before the break through captain Cesar Azpilicueta but Nketiah pounced on a series of defensive errors in the Blues’ box to put Arsenal back in front just before the hour mark. Bukayo Saka was outstanding for Arsenal and he got the reward his performance deserved when he sealed the win from the spot in added time after he was hauled down by Azpilicueta.

The Gunners are now level on points with north London rivals Tottenham with a derby at Emirates Stadium still to come. Questions about Arsenal’s character and ability to maintain a fight for a top-four finish were starting to be asked after three defeats in a row but this was a display that showed plenty of grit. Arsenal were on the front foot right from the start, pressing Chelsea into mistakes and refusing to buckle even when Thomas Tuchel’s side equalised twice. Nketiah was the headline-grabber with two goals but Saka and Smith Rowe showed Arsenal have two real gems for the future.

Saka gave Marcos Alonso a tough time on Arsenal’s right flank, helping to create Smith Rowe’s goal, setting up other chances then scoring the fourth with a clinical penalty after he was fouled. Smith Rowe demonstrated great composure to finish sweetly for his 11th goal of the season, a fine tally for this richly promising 21-year-old playmaker. Arsenal now face struggling Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime feeling much better about themselves after a deserved triumph.

Southampton 1 Arsenal 0

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted his side’s form was “a real worry” after Southampton won at St Mary’s to inflict a third successive defeat on the top-four chasing Gunners. Jan Bednarek scored the game’s only goal late in the first half after the visitors had failed to adequately deal with a Saints corner. Bukayo Saka was denied from point-blank range by Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster with the score still goalless, but further clear-cut openings proved hard to come by for Arsenal until the closing stages of the second half. Emile Smith Rowe forced another fine save out of Forster after latching on to Yan Valery’s attempted clearance, before Martin Odegaard dragged a left-footed shot wide of the near post after cutting in from the right.

Forster produced yet another impressive stop to deny Granit Xhaka late on as Arsenal desperately piled forward in search of an equaliser. The Gunners remain three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham – who were beaten at home by Brighton earlier on Saturday – although they do still have a game in hand on their north London rivals. Southampton, meanwhile, climb to 12th after claiming their first league win since February. Following lacklustre displays at Crystal Palace and at home to Brighton last weekend, Gunners fans may have hoped this trip to St Mary’s would prove to be an ideal fixture to reignite their top-four push.

Saints had lost five of their past six games in all competitions before Saturday and conceded 19 goals in the process – including a 6-0 capitulation at home to Chelsea in their last match. They had also won only one of their past 12 meetings with Arsenal in the Premier League. The hosts had Forster to thank for keeping the score goalless in the early stages of the first half, the veteran goalkeeper getting down low to palm Gabriel Martinelli’s curling shot past the post before brilliantly tipping Saka’s close-range effort over the bar following an error from Valery.

Although the Gunners continued to dominate possession as the half wore on, they lacked the tempo to create further openings against a resolute and defensively organised Southampton, who punished Arsenal when Bednarek fired home his fourth goal of the season with a minute of the first half remaining. When Arsenal did manage to penetrate the Saints rearguard late in the second half, they found Forster in inspired form. The 34-year-old did magnificently to parry Smith Rowe’s goal-bound effort wide before getting in the way of a low Saka shot. Forster also managed to get his fingertips to Xhaka’s curling strike with the clock ticking towards 90 minutes – although the Switzerland international’s effort may have been heading narrowly wide.

Arsenal 1 Brighton 2

Arsenal handed the initiative in the race for Champions League qualification to rivals Tottenham as Brighton ended their own dire run of form with a deserved win at Emirates Stadium. The Seagulls – seven games without a victory before kick-off – frustrated the home side with their organisation and efficient forward play in a game where Arsenal failed to look threatening until they mustered a desperate late push. Leandro Trossard’s curling first-half finish – after a fine assist by the impressive Enock Mwepu – gave Graham Potter’s side something to build on.

And after Gabriel Martinelli appeared to have headed Arsenal level moments before the break – only for a four-minute VAR check to rule him offside – Brighton remained solid before doubling their lead with a superb Mwepu finish. The Zambia midfielder side-footed home with power from the edge of the box to cap a rounded individual display and produce a look of disbelief on the face of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Arteta’s side rallied late on with Martin Odegaard firing home from range via a deflection but they stay fifth – level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham, who play later on Saturday – while Potter’s Brighton move up to 11th after just a fourth win in 26 league games.

Were it not for their fine start to the season, Brighton might well have been worrying about escaping the bottom three, such has been their recent run of results. Potter’s side had scored just one goal in their previous seven league games and failed to find the net with 31 attempts in last week’s 0-0 draw with Norwich. This win, though, saw them take their opportunities ruthlessly and remain brilliantly organised throughout. Arsenal were simply lacklustre and showed little in the way of a response to what Arteta described as an “unacceptable” display in Monday’s 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace 3 Arsenal 0

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta apologised for his side’s performance in their surprise defeat at Crystal Palace and accepted it was not good enough for the north London club. The visitors had gone into the game looking to move back into the top four and strengthen their hopes of Champions League football. But they were second-best throughout at Selhurst Park as former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, now in charge of the Eagles, got one over his former side in some style. The Gunners would have moved above rivals Tottenham with victory or even a draw but fell behind early on through Jean-Philippe Mateta’s header following a free-kick.

Things got worse for the visitors a few minutes later when Jordan Ayew got away from two Arsenal defenders and bent a shot beyond Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal showed some improvement after the break and should have at least got one back as Martin Odegaard shot wide when unmarked inside the box, while Eddie Nketiah hit the woodwork. Palace made sure of a hugely impressive win when Wilfried Zaha was brought down inside the box late on and the forward stepped up to convert the penalty. The victory, Palace’s first at home in the league in 2022, moves them up to ninth while Arsenal remain fifth and outside the top four on goal difference, albeit with a game in hand.

A dreadful start to the season had seen the Gunners briefly flirting with the relegation places but they have been transformed as the campaign has gone on. They went into this game knowing they had a huge opportunity to put themselves in the driving seat for Champions League football next season with a win and they had every right to feel confident of getting it on the back of six wins in their last seven games. But they never got going against a tenacious Palace side as they lacked the same level of aggression as their hosts. Arsenal have that game in a hand over Tottenham, so still have the opportunity to make amends for this poor performance and recent form suggests this display was an outlier.

Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 1

Arsenal strengthened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League with a narrow victory at Aston Villa. Bukayo Saka was the standout player as the Gunners secured a sixth win from seven games to move four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United with a game in hand. The England international scored the only goal in the first half with a low drive from the edge of the area after Villa failed to properly clear a cross into the box. Villa improved after the break and went close when Ollie Watkins’ deflected shot clipped the outside of the post, before substitute Danny Ings sent a looping header on to the roof of the net.

Arsenal’s jubilant celebrations at the final whistle showed just how significant they feel this result could be as the north London club seek to return to the Champions League for the first time in five years. The win was based on a vibrant first-half display, followed up by a resilient defensive performance after the break. Saka was excellent during the opening 45 minutes, tormenting 39-year-old Ashley Young who was in the Villa side for the injured Lucas Digne. Saka got in behind Young inside the opening two minutes to create a chance for Emile Smith Rowe, while another cross struck Ezri Konsa and needed a fine stop from Emiliano Martinez to prevent an own goal.

The goal came from a quickly taken free-kick that caught Villa out down the right, with Cedric’s cross only cleared to Saka at the edge of the box, who fired home through a crowd of players for his 10th goal of the season in all competitions. Arsenal tired after the break which allowed Villa to get more of a grip on the game, but they prevented the home side from having a shot on target until the final minute of stoppage time, when Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick was pushed away by Bernd Leno.

Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool moved to within one point of Premier League leaders Manchester City as they emerged impressive winners after a tough examination at Arsenal. The Gunners, well in the fight to finish in the top four, pushed Liverpool hard until Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasing side ruthlessly took control after the break. Liverpool keeper Alisson saved crucially from Martin Odegaard after Thiago’s misplaced backpass before Diogo Jota put Liverpool ahead, beating Aaron Ramsdale at his near post in the 54th minute. Jota and Luis Diaz were immediately replaced by Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, the latter doubling Liverpool’s advantage just after the hour mark with a perfect flick from Andrew Robertson’s cross.

Liverpool have now reeled off nine Premier League wins in succession while Arsenal remain in fourth, a point ahead of Manchester United but with two games in hand. Once Jota made the breakthrough for the visitors there was no way back for the Gunners, but before then the Reds were indebted to Alisson’s significant contribution when he made that block from Odegaard. To that point Arsenal were in confident mood, playing fearlessly, but they were again undone by Jota – the scourge of Mikel Arteta’s team in the Carabao Cup semi-final in January – although the Portuguese was helped by Ramsdale’s weak effort to save his near-post shot.

Klopp’s Midas touch worked again when he removed Jota and substitute Firmino showed his silky touch to slide a near post flick past Ramsdale. Arsenal were deflated and Liverpool moved even closer to Manchester City, who were held to a draw here in the capital by Crystal Palace on Monday. The advantage still lies with Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions – but the margin is slender and this was another potentially difficult hurdle overcome by Liverpool. Arsenal’s players were applauded off by the home fans at the final whistle in recognition of their efforts, especially the outstanding Gabriel Martinelli, who gave Trent Alexander-Arnold a torrid time.

Arsenal 2 Leicester City 0

Goals from Thomas Partey and Alexandre Lacazette at Emirates Stadium secured in-form Arsenal a fifth win in a row. It lifted them back into fourth place, one point above Manchester United, who beat fellow top-four contenders Tottenham on Saturday. Arsenal qualified for 19 successive Champions League campaigns from the 1998-99 season onwards and Arteta believes a club of their stature has to be in the top European club competition. Partey headed in unchallenged from Gabriel Martinelli’s corner after 11 minutes as the hosts capitalised on their dominant start.

The midfielder also struck the crossbar as Arsenal pressed for a second, while goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was twice called upon to deny Harvey Barnes – including a superb reaction save from a header – as the visitors threatened before half-time. But, after Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu was penalised for handball following a lengthy video assistant referee review, Lacazette fired in a 59th-minute penalty to put the Gunners in control. Soyuncu received only a yellow card as Partey’s still goal-bound header was cleared off the line by the alert Luke Thomas. Seeking to end a five-year absence from Europe’s elite club competition, Arsenal ensured they remain in pole position in the race to qualify with a ninth win in 11 league games.

With three games in hand over fifth-placed United from which to further strengthen their position, Arteta’s men – unlike their immediate rivals – have achieved consistency in both performances and results to emerge as favourites for fourth. The opening goal was a familiar tale for Leicester, who have now conceded a league-high 15 goals from set-pieces – excluding penalties – after Partey’s run to the near post went ignored. Arsenal had amassed six shots before Leicester, sorely missing injured talisman Jamie Vardy, managed their first attempt after 24 minutes. But, just as he was in October’s reverse fixture, which Arsenal also won 2-0, the inspired Ramsdale was up to the task when the Foxes eventually gained a foothold in the contest.

Martinelli and Bukayo Saka impressed in attack for Arsenal, while Partey was influential in midfield, but it was the slick Martin Odegaard who stood out as he created five big chances for his team-mates in the first half alone. Lacazette’s confidently converted spot-kick ultimately moved the game beyond Leicester, after referee Anthony Taylor also took his time to review Soyuncu’s subtle handball on the pitch-side monitor. For Arsenal, a meeting with title-chasing Liverpool on Wednesday will provide an acid test of their progress since a 4-0 loss at Anfield earlier this season.

Watford 2 Arsenal 3

Arsenal climbed into the Champions League places on Sunday with an entertaining victory over lowly Watford in a game with five quality goals. The Hornets, who remain in the relegation zone, thought they had taken the lead within the first 20 seconds as Emmanuel Dennis slotted home but he was offside. Martin Odegaard put Arsenal ahead not long afterwards after flicking the ball into the path of Bukayo Saka and then running into the centre to slot in Saka’s cross. Watford levelled with the best individual goal of the game, Cucho Hernandez’s acrobatic flying volley from Kiko Femenia’s cross.

The visitors restored their lead when Saka won the ball off Tom Cleverley and found Alexandre Lacazette, who rolled the ball back into Saka’s path to fire into the top corner. England star Saka was involved again in the third goal as his quick throw-in set up a move with Lacazette laying the ball off to Gabriel Martinelli to finish. They looked as if they were cruising, and Eddie Nketiah hit the post, before Moussa Sissoko controlled the ball on his chest and beat Ben White before slotting in. That set up a tense finale with Watford debutant Samuel Kalu forcing Aaron Ramsdale into a save with a long-range shot.

Arsenal move above Manchester United into fourth spot, with United losing 4-1 to Manchester City in the derby. Watford, who blow hot and cold too often, remain three points off safety. The Gunners continued their surge up the table with an entertaining albeit ultimately tense win, keeping them unbeaten in the league since New Year’s Day. They played some really top-quality, slick football, even though they only had four efforts on target and were hanging on in the end after Sissoko struck. But Saka was excellent again and involved in all three goals. He has scored or assisted 13 Premier League goals this season, with only Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz (17) involved in more in Europe’s top five leagues among players under the age of 21. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta had a big hand in the third goal, too, grabbing the ball after it went out of play and quickly passing it to Saka, who took the throw-in that led to the goal.

Arsenal 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

An own goal from Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa helped Arsenal complete a dramatic late turnaround in their pursuit of a top-four Premier League place. For long periods Hwang Hee-chan’s early effort had looked like being decisive for the visitors. However, Arsenal substitute Nicolas Pepe levelled from Eddie Nketiah’s pass towards the end of a dominant second period in which the hosts had continually pressed for an equaliser.  And as the clock ran down Alexandre Lacazette’s effort was inadvertently touched into his own goal by Sa to spark wild celebrations inside the Emirates stadium.

The result sees Mikel Arteta’s side move up to fifth in the table, just one point behind fourth-placed Manchester United, with two games in hand, while Wolves who were hoping to further their own Champions League ambitions sit in seventh. Bruno Lage’s side had gone into the contest searching for their sixth win in seven top-flight matches and a fifth successive away victory in the top flight for the first time in 42 years. They looked well on course when their South Korea international Hwang stole in front of Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to score from a tight angle early on from Gabriel’s misplaced back pass. But while they defended resiliently for long periods, Hwang’s miss just after the break and Pedro Neto’s errant late shot with the score at 1-1 proved costly.

While Wolves may point to missed opportunities they can ultimately have few complaints over the manner of their defeat. With Arsenal enjoying more possession and registering more than four times as many shots in the contest, Lage’s side were made to pay for their inability to retain the ball long enough to relieve the pressure they faced, particularly after the break. Romain Saiss, Conor Coady and Ruben Neves all made telling clearances over the course of the match and will feel aggrieved that their efforts did not bring at least the reward of a point. Arsenal though should be lauded for their persistence and the belief they retained that they would finally break through a stubborn Wolves defence.

Wolves goalkeeper Sa had been rarely tested until he repelled Lacazette’s 72nd-minute effort at point-blank range but from there the visiting goal came under increased threat. Pepe’s deserved equaliser came at the end of a flowing move down the right, with Ivory Coast winger expertly placing the ball past Sa and Gunners midfielder Martin Odegaard hit the woodwork before they found a late winner.

Arsenal 2 Brentford 1

Second-half strikes from Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka lifted Arsenal to victory over Brentford as the Gunners moved to within a point of the top four. England international Smith Rowe ran at the Brentford defence and curled a measured right-footed shot past David Raya to send his side on their way to a second successive win. His goal came following a first half in which Arsenal had two penalty appeals turned down. Bukayo Saka capped a satisfying afternoon for Mikel Arteta’s side when he slotted home, although Brentford felt they should have had a free-kick for a foul on Pontus Jansson in the build-up.

Brentford were superb when they beat Arsenal on the opening night of the season and, while Christian Norgaard struck an injury-time consolation, the Bees’ winless run extended to seven games. Victory moves Arsenal level on points with fifth-placed West Ham, who drew at Newcastle earlier on Saturday, and within a point of Manchester United in fourth with two games in hand on the Red Devils. Having not played since beating Wolves on 10 February, Arsenal started brightly as Alexandre Lacazette had a goal disallowed for offside with Martin Odegaard and Saka both firing wide. The main talking point from the first half, however, centred on Jon Moss after the referee waved away the home side’s appeals following Kristoffer Ajer’s challenge on the French striker in the box.

The Gunners had another shout for a spot-kick when Cedric Soares’ shot struck Yoane Wissa’s arm, but again it was turned down following a VAR check. But increasing frustration turned to elation three minutes after the restart when Smith Rowe collected Lacazette’s pass and drove at the visiting defence before finishing confidently. After scoring twice last term, it was a ninth goal of the season – and first of 2022 – for Smith Rowe, who was recalled to Arteta’s line-up to replace the suspended Gabriel Martinelli. Only Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Raheem Sterling have scored more league goals than Smith Rowe.