2022-2023 Leicester City, Leeds United & Southampton Get Relegated

AnotherĀ Premier League season has entered the history books following the conclusion of eight months of drama. TheĀ relegation battle went down to the final day of the season, with three clubs scrapping it out to extend their stay in the top flight of English football. Everton,Ā LeicesterĀ andĀ LeedsĀ started the day hoping to play in the same league next season as the three clubs who have been recently promoted to the Premier League from theĀ Championship.

Leicester have gone from being Premier League champions to the Championship in seven years. Their fate was sealed on the final day of the season despite beating West Ham 2-1, finishing two points behind Everton who themselves beat Bournemouth to stay in the division. So much has happened at the club in those intervening years that the journey from A to B could never really be a straight line. Their deeply loved chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was killed in a helicopter crash outside their stadium. A training complex was built at a cost of Ā£100m. The tourism-based businesses owned by the clubā€™s owners suffered a severe downturn as a result of the pandemic. They came within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League in two successive seasons. They won the FA Cup. By the last day of the season they were dependant on Everton slipping up to have any chance of survival but it was not to be.

Three seasons after Marcelo Bielsa gloriously returned the West Yorkshire outfit to the top flight after a 16-year absence, Leeds find themselves once again out of England’s elite. Leeds will also be playing Championship football next season after finishing five points behind the Toffees. Sam Allardyce had been appointed as manager last month but he was unable to save the Yorkshire club in his four matches in charge. Both Allardyce and the club as a wholeĀ in their own statementĀ apologised for the relegation that was confirmed by a 4-1 home loss to Tottenham, with Leeds also stating they are in a “strong position” to mount an immediate promotion bid.

Southampton finished rock bottom of the Premier League with a paltry 25 points, bringing an end to their 10-year stay in the top flight. After a sorry season that has seen them occupy one of the relegation spots since November 5, their 12th home defeat of the season against Fulham meant they will be playing in the second tier next season. They last suffered relegation from the Premier League in 2005 – it took them seven years to win promotion back after a period that also saw them relegated to League One. Three managers have occupied the St Mary’s hot-seat this season and none of them have managed more than three league wins with Ralph Hasenhuttl, Nathan Jones and Ruben Selles all failing to find a winning formula at the club. Southampton are a football club burdened by trouble and strife. It has been that way since their European zenith under Ronald Koeman – an extension of the fine work Mauricio Pochettino had undertaken in the two seasons before his arrival.

Arsenal 5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Arsenal recorded a thumping win against Wolverhampton Wanderers to end a fine Premier League season with a flourish at Emirates Stadium. Mikel Arteta’s side, who were already assured of second place, ended the campaign on 84 points – the Gunners’ highest points tally since the ‘Invincibles’ team took the title with 90 in 2003-04. Their unexpected and exciting title challenge may have collapsed in recent weeks, but the hosts looked back to their best in this victory and were helped by passive opponents. Granit Xhaka, who has been heavily linked with a move to the Bundesliga, set them on their way when he nodded in Gabriel Jesus’ early cross from the right.

The Switzerland midfielder, who posted a ‘Thank You Gunners’ messageĀ on Instagram prior to kick-off, stroked in a second from close range to bring up Arsenal’s 100th goal of the campaign in all competitions after Wolves defender Max Kilman inadvertently deflected the ball into his path. With Wolves struggling to contain their fluent opponents, Martin Odegaard and Leandro Trossard combined down the right to present the ball to Bukayo Saka, who curled in a superb third. Arsenal showed few signs of letting up after the break, with Jesus heading in their fourth at the back post from Trossard’s pinpoint cross. It was a disappointing conclusion for Wolves, who finish 13th.

And their afternoon got even worse when goalkeeper Jose Sa fumbled Jakub Kiwior’s instinctive effort into his own net in the closing stages to gift Arsenal a fifth goal. While Arsenal missed out on a first Premier League title in 19 years, they delivered a celebratory conclusion to the season with a handsome victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium. And on this evidence fans can look forward with an optimism that the best is still to come from Mikel Arteta’s young squad.Ā  Several key players remained absent for this encounter but the Spaniard will hope that their return plus further investment in quality reinforcements, will provide further endurance to a team that excited before falling away in the title race.

Nottingham Forest 1 Arsenal 0

Nottingham Forest beat Arsenal at the City Ground to secure their Premier League survival and crown Manchester City as champions. Taiwo Awoniyi’s 19th-minute goal was enough to seal victory and spark jubilant scenes from the home supporters at the final whistle. Arsenal dominated possession but Mikel Arteta’s men could not find a way through Forest’s spirited defence in order to forceĀ City to win a fifth title in six years themselves. Not that Forest and their noisy supporters were bothered about Pep Guardiola and his team. After what must have seemed like an age as he paced up and down his technical area, waiting for seven minutes of injury time to pass and the loss of goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the very last seconds, Forest boss Steve Cooper was able to celebrate survival.

In the stand above, owner Evangelos Marinakis was also hugged by those around him, having been rewarded for keeping faith with Cooper during a tumultuous campaign. Awoniyi only scored four times in his first 23 Premier League games after joining Forest from Union Berlin – but now has five in his past three. And, like the former Liverpool striker, Morgan Gibbs-White’s form has also shown a major upturn over the past few weeks and it was little surprise the pair combined to put Forest ahead. There was an element of fortune given Gabriel slid in to reach Gibbs-White’s angled pass into the penalty area first.

But given the battling qualities they have shown in their survival fight and the phenomenal support they have received from the stands, Forest deserved the fortune that saw the ball strike Awoniyi, then rise above Aaron Ramsdale, who was diving to smother, and into the net. It would be grossly unfair to say Arsenal did not deserve something from this game. They dominated possession for long periods and only some diligent Forest defending kept them at arm’s length. But the clinical edge of their early season performances has deserted them just as City have hit top gear. In contrast to the first half of the campaign, when they only dropped seven points, Arsenal have collected just nine points from their past eight games.

Arsenal 0 Brighton Hove Albion 3

Arsenal’s fading title hopes were dealt a devastating blow after losing to Brighton to leave leaders Manchester City one win from a fifth Premier League title in six seasons. The Gunners needed to respond after City’s 3-0 win over EvertonĀ earlier on Sunday left Mikel Arteta’s side trailing by four points in the race for the title. On a deeply frustrating day for Arsenal, Leandro Trossard hit the bar against his former club while Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka both went close before Julio Enciso’s close-range header put Brighton ahead. Substitute Deniz Undav doubled the lead after lobbing Aaron Ramsdale in the 86th minute before Pervis Estupinan added to Arsenal’s misery with Brighton’s third in the 96th minute.

City will win the Premier League title next Sunday in front of their own fans if they beat Chelsea at home (16:00 BST), even if Arsenal defeat Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday (17:30). However, City will be confirmed champions without playing on Saturday if the Gunners lose at Forest. In a game littered with niggly challenges, Arsenal lost Brazil forward Gabriel Martinelli to injury in the first half after a foul by Brighton’s Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo, who the GunnersĀ tried to sign in January. Brighton, who are chasing a place in Europe for the first time, had gone close through Enciso before the 19-year-old Paraguay forward stunned the Emirates with his 51st-minute goal.

The win lifted the Seagulls above both Aston Villa and Tottenham into sixth on 58 points, four behind fifth-placed Liverpool with one game in hand. The maximum number of points Arsenal can score is 87, while City have 85 with matches against Chelsea (home), Brighton (away) and Brentford (away) to come. Arsenal’s players sank to their knees after the full-time whistle, the realisation quickly sinking in that their title dream was all but over after being picked off by Brighton. The Gunners deserve enormous credit for the way they have pushed Manchester City in the title race. They wereĀ eight points clear of City at the top after 18 games but their pursuit is running out of steam after a highly damaging defeat at the business end of the season.

Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2

Arsenal clawed Manchester City’s lead at the Premier League summit back to one point after they came out on top in a thriller against Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Mikel Arteta’s side, who have played one game more than the champions, responded superbly to the pressure exerted by Manchester City’s victory over Leeds United to prevail in an action-packed, edgy encounter littered with chances on Tyneside. Newcastle, attempting to strengthen their push for a place in the Champions League next season, started at lightning pace – Jacob Murphy hitting the post and having a penalty award overturned by VAR.

Arsenal, however, showed their strength and it was inspirational captain Martin Odegaard who followed up his double against Chelsea in midweek by drilling his 15th Premier League goal of the season past Newcastle keeper Nick Pope from 25 yards after 14 minutes. What followed was a magnificent game full of opportunities in a frenzied atmosphere, Pope saving crucially from Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Odegaard before half-time. Martinelli also struck the bar after the break. Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale also produced vital stops from Joe Willock and Fabian Schar, with Alexander Isak heading against the post, before The Gunners broke clear to wrap up the three points – Schar turning Martinelli’s cross into his own net in the 71st minute.

This was a huge examination of all the improvements Arsenal have made this season as they walked into the St James’ Park hothouse, with expectations high for Newcastle United as they chase Champions League football. The game began in a wall of sound with Newcastle intent on overpowering Arsenal in a frantic start that had the Gunners in retreat. For all the premature talk of “chokers” when Arsenal went four league games without a win, they showed there are new reserves of character and resilience to go with all the natural talent they possess. And no-one exemplifies it more than captain Odegaard, who continued his outstanding season with the crucial first goal, another one of those sweet strikes that have become his trademark.

Arsenal’s big concern was that they might pay for their failure to take one of several gilt-edged opportunities in the first half, but they were able to close out this crucial win after Schar’s own goal. And Arsenal showed they have added another side to the game with their attempts to slow the game down to break up Newcastle’s rhythm and momentum. It enraged the home fans and Newcastle manager Eddie Howe’s assistant Jason Tindall in particular, but it is a tactic the Magpies have used themselves this season when it has suited them. Arsenal are still second favourites as they pursue their first title since 2003/2004 but they demonstrated again they are determined to take the race all the way.

Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1

Arsenal delivered an emphatic warning that they remain serious title contenders as they outclassed abysmal Chelsea at Emirates Stadium to return to the top of the Premier League. The Gunners had gone four league games without a win and were heavily beaten last time out at reigning champions Manchester City, who replaced them at the summit with victory at Fulham on Sunday. Arsenal responded by producing a magnificent first-half display, racing into a 3-0 lead inside 34 minutes courtesy of two crisp strikes by captain Martin Odegaard and a scrambled finish by Gabriel Jesus. Chelsea, who fell to a sixth straight loss under interim manager Frank Lampard, were thankful to goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga that the scoreline was not even more embarrassing and even pulled one back through Noni Madueke.

Arsenal, however, were never in serious danger and are now two points clear of City having played two games more than their title rivals. Arsenal answered all the questions about their character following a recent mini-slump as they tore into Chelsea from the kick-off, backed by fervent supporters who have not given up despite City’s relentless surge back to the top. The Gunners have been unfairly tagged as “chokers” by some following a recent run in which they lost two-goal leads at Liverpool and West Ham United, drew at home to struggling Southampton and were simply overwhelmed 4-1 at City. This was the Arsenal who have made an outstanding contribution to this season, made the title race a serious contest and provided a feast of attractive attacking football along the way.

Mikel Arteta’s side were assisted by a truly appalling first-half display by Chelsea, but Arsenal were nevertheless quicker, showed more intensity and ran their London rivals ragged with the quality of their play. Arsenal looked full of self-belief but they will be a little disappointed that they did not add to their tally after the break and also allowed Chelsea to give themselves the faintest glimmer of hope with a goal. There will also be concern over an injury to defender Gabriel, who struggled on after taking a knock when Madueke scored Chelsea’s consolation but eventually had to go off. In all other respects, however, this was a highly satisfactory night for Arteta and his players. Chelsea, now languishing in 12th place, are a team seemingly lacking any structure or gameplan. And supporters who hoped the chance to dent Arsenal’s title challenge in a London derby might finally fire up their under-performing stars were left feeling betrayed by another dreadful showing.

Manchester City 4 Arsenal 1

Manchester City delivered a masterclass to overwhelm Premier League leaders Arsenal and strike a huge psychological blow in the title race at Etihad Stadium. The confrontation billed as a potential title-decider turned into an embarrassingly one-sided affair. Pep Guardiola’s side, now two points behind Arsenal with two games in hand, were inspired by the devastating partnership of Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne. Haaland sent De Bruyne away for a silky opener after seven minutes, and Arsenal then survived a constant bombardment of attacks before John Stones headed home from a corner in first-half stoppage time, the goal given by VAR after originally being ruled offside.

City goal machine Haaland was outstanding throughout and again set up De Bruyne for the third in the 54th minute, the Belgian passing a classy finish between the legs of Gunners defender Rob Holding. Holding pulled one back for Arsenal late on before Haaland, denied four times by Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale earlier in the match, sealed a memorable night with his 49th City goal. City can go top with victory at Fulham on Sunday while Arsenal must somehow pull out of a slump that has seen them go four league games without a win at a crucial stage of the season. It was only a few short weeks ago that Arsenal’s title challenge looked like it might well end with a first Premier League triumph since 2003-04.

But that was before they carelessly threw away a two-goal lead at Liverpool, repeated the failing at West Ham and then faltered at home in a 3-3 draw with struggling Southampton. City presented the toughest of tests but also an opportunity to reassert themselves at the Premier League summit – but instead Mikel Arteta’s team found themselves on the receiving end of a chastening beating. Arsenal looked nervous in the face of City’s intensity and threat, the gap between the sides resembling a chasm right up to the final seconds when Haaland finally got on the scoresheet. The Gunners have desperately missed the authority of injured William Saliba in defence while they barely mounted an attack worthy of the name until it was too late. Arsenal have been outstanding this season and there will be no shame in coming up just short against this City team.

Arsenal 3 Southampton 3

Premier League leaders Arsenal scored two late goals as they fought back to draw a thriller at home to struggling Southampton. It was a third draw in a row for the Gunners and Manchester City are now five points behind but with two games in hand – and host the Gunners at Etihad Stadium next Wednesday. Saints led after just 28 seconds, when Carlos Alcaraz capitalised on an Aaron Ramsdale error to score. Arsenal have now conceded the two fastest goals at home in the Premier League this season, the other being Philip Billing’s strike after 9.11 seconds for Bournemouth. Theo Walcott doubled the Southampton lead against his former club, before Gabriel Martinelli pulled one back for the league leaders.

Duje Caleta-Car restored the Southampton two-goal advantage and appeared to seal the three points – only for Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka to score in the 88th and 90th minutes to earn a draw. It follows draws away to Liverpool and West Ham United for Mikel Arteta’s side in their previous two games. Southampton remain bottom of the table and three points from safety, having now failed to win in seven league games. After being unable to maintain a two-goal lead in their previous two Premier League games, Arsenal found the shoe on the other foot as they went 2-0 down inside 12 minutes in front of a shocked Emirates Stadium. While Arsenal have been affected badly by absences – Granit Xhaka missed this match through illness, while key defender William Saliba remains out injured – this draw, more than those against Liverpool and West Ham, indicated the pressure may be getting to them in the title race.

Ramsdale had clearly not learned from Manchester United keeper David de Gea’s error the day before. Like the Spaniard, he attempted a short pass to the edge of his area, but Alcaraz pounced and fired home across the Arsenal keeper. If Arsenal were stunned then, they were really rattled soon after when Alcaraz’s through ball was picked up by Walcott, who ghosted away from Gabriel and coolly finished, before refusing to celebrate against his old team. Only then did the Gunners rouse themselves as Oleksandr Zinchenko, on the night he became the first Ukrainian to make 100 Premier League appearances, called an inquest among all 11 Arsenal players in the centre circle.

And it had an impact, as Martinelli volleyed home on 18 minutes, before Arsenal went on to dominate possession and chances as Southampton tried to kill time whenever they could. But when Caleta-Car escaped his marker at the far post to head home a corner in the 66th minute, it left Arsenal’s title bid in serious trouble. Captain Odegaard’s fine left-footed strike and Saka finishing on the rebound from a Reiss Nelson shot amid a grandstand finish at least saved a point.

West Ham 2 Arsenal 2

Leaders Arsenal missed a penalty and threw away a two-goal lead as they drew at West Ham in a blow to their hopes of winning the Premier League. A close-range finish from Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard’s volley put the visitors 2-0 ahead inside the opening 10 minutes at London Stadium as they looked to be cruising to the victory. But, just as they did in theĀ 2-2 draw at Liverpool last Sunday, Mikel Arteta’s side could not hold on to their advantage and dropped valuable points in their title battle with Manchester City. Said Benrahma’s penalty, after Gabriel had brought down Lucas Paqueta, gave the Hammers a way back into the game, before Arsenal got a spot-kick of their own, following Michail Antonio’s handball, but Bukayo Saka shot wide.

That proved costly as the hosts scored less than three minutes later through Jarrod Bowen’s superb volley from Thilo Kehrer’s lofted pass. West Ham, still 15th in the table but now four points above the relegation zone, could have won it when Antonio’s header bounced off the crossbar in a frantic finish. Arsenal began the weekend six points clear of City, but that has now been cut to four after Pep Guardiola’s side won 3-1 at home against Leicester on Saturday. The Gunners have seven matches left and play Southampton at home on Friday, before City, who have a game in hand, entertain Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on 26 April. Arsenal are now unbeaten in nine Premier League games since a 3-1 home loss to City, but Arteta will see this as two points dropped and wonder how they did not gain the victory.

Just as they did at Anfield a week ago, they missed chances to wrap up the game only to concede twice. They are wobbling in their bid to become English champions for the 14th time and the first since Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ went a league season without losing in 2003-04. For the opening half-hour Arsenal’s football was a joy to watch as they overpowered West Ham and looked to have wrapped up the three points with relative ease, with Jesus scoring his fourth goal in three matches before Odegaard added a second three minutes later. Thomas Partey then sloppily lost possession to Declan Rice and that led to the penalty which gave West Ham hope and changed the course of the match.

However, even after Bowen’s equaliser, Arsenal still had opportunities to get a winning goal. Jesus narrowly missed getting a touch on Kieran Tierney’s cross before two chances in the last three minutes, but Saka headed wide before Rob Holding’s header was saved by ex-Gunner Lukasz Fabianski.

Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2

Roberto Firmino scored a dramatic late equaliser as Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League was cut to six points in an incident-packed encounter with Liverpool at Anfield. The Gunners were in cruise control with a two-goal lead inside the first half-hour as they went in search for their first win at Liverpool since 2012, but were left bitterly disappointed as they paid the price for losing their discipline at a crucial time. Gabriel Martinelli pounced on sloppy Liverpool defending to put Arsenal ahead after eight minutes then Gabriel Jesus rose unmarked between Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson to head home at the Kop End.

Liverpool sparked into life after a flashpoint between Granit Xhaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold late in the first half, Mohamed Salah scoring at the far post just before the break to set up a thriller. There was a bizarre incident at the end of the first half whenĀ referee’s assistant Constantine Hatzidakis appeared to elbow Liverpool defender Robertson as the teams left the field. In a dramatic second half, Salah missed his second successive penalty when he shot wide after Rob Holding fouled Diogo Jota before Firmino rose at the far post to head home Alexander-Arnold’s cross with three minutes left.

In a frantic climax, Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale – who had already saved crucially from Darwin Nunez – produced two incredible stops from Salah and Ibrahima Konate as Mikel Arteta’s pace-setters had to settle for a point, with Liverpool fully deserving their share of the spoils for a stirring fightback. It means the destiny of the title is now in Manchester City’s hands as they have a game in hand and have a home game against Arsenal to come. The fact that Arsenal came away with even a point was thanks to a remarkable display by Ramsdale, who emerged as a heroic figure to repeatedly deny a fired-up Liverpool attack and secure a draw that that might yet prove vital in the outcome of this title race.

Arsenal 4 Leeds United 1

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.

Arsenal 4 Crystal Palce 1

Arsenal moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to a routine home victory over managerless Crystal Palace. The Gunners, aiming to become champions for the first time since 2003-04, went ahead at Emirates Stadium through Gabriel Martinelli’s left-footed strike – his sixth goal in six league matches. Bukayo Saka doubled the lead when he collected Ben White’s pass and curled an effort past 19-year-old goalkeeper Joe Whitworth. Granit Xhaka made it 3-0 with a first-time finish from Leandro Trossard’s assist, before Jeffrey Schlupp pulled one back from close range following a corner for Palace’s first goal in five matches.

But the excellent Saka restored Arsenal’s three-goal advantage with a guided finish from Kiernan Tierney’s pull-back to seal the victory. Arsenal have 69 points from 28 matches, with second-placed Manchester City, whoĀ beat Burnley 6-0 in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, on 61 points having played a game less. For Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, this was a perfect response after his sideĀ lost on penalties to Sporting Lisbon in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday. Once Martinelli put them ahead with his 13th goal of the season, there only looked to be one winner, with Palace powerless to stop Arsenal. Saka’s goal, confirmed by the video assistant referee following a check for offside, made it 2-0, with Xhaka adding a third in the 55th minute.

Palace got a goal back, but it was no surprise that Saka soon scored again to take his total to 13 for the campaign. Arteta will also be delighted with the character his team have shown as they have bounced back from setbacks. This victory was their sixth in a row in the league since a 3-1 home loss to City threatened to derail their title hopes. But they have recovered in style and go into the international break in pole position.

Arsenal Goes Out Of The Europa League With Penalty Shootout Loss To Sporting Lisbon

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League at the last-16 stage in a penalty shootout defeat by Sporting Lisbon at Emirates Stadium. Gabriel Martinelli’s spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Adan before Nuno Santos netted the winner to spark celebrations among Sporting’s players at full-time following an eventful and entertaining tie. A sensational long-range chip by Pedro Goncalves from 46 yards forced extra time after Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka had earlier pounced on a rebound for the opener. Arsenal defender Gabriel came agonisingly close twice in the final minutes of extra time when his header was tipped over the bar, and then he had an effort cleared off the goalline.

Sporting’s Manuel Ugarte was also sent off after a dangerous sliding tackle on Bukayo Saka minutes before their shootout victory. There were chances throughout in this frenetic second leg as Arsenal substitute Leandro Trossard hit the post in extra time when he was gifted possession and ran through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, only for Adan to touch it onto the woodwork. Sporting forward Marcus Edwards, previously at Tottenham, was also denied by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale minutes after Goncalves made it 1-1 in normal time. Despite the score being 2-2 on aggregate going into the match, Mikel Arteta made five changes to the Arsenal starting XI as he tried to make full use of his squad in the midst of a Premier League title race.

There was a welcome return for striker Gabriel Jesus, making a first start since December after recovering from a knee injury, but he could not convert before going off at half-time. And Arteta was dealt an early blow when injuries to defenders William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu forced him into first-half substitutions. Sporting began well, controlling possession and creating numerous opportunities, despite Xhaka’s powerful strike giving Arsenal a narrow lead. They had a flurry of chances immediately after Goncalves’ stunning equaliser too – Paulinho flicking a header over the bar and Edwards being denied by Ramsdale. England goalkeeper Ramsdale had a busy evening, while Trossard, Martinelli and Gabriel all tested Adan at the other end.

Fulham 0 Arsenal 3

Arsenal restored their five-point advantage at the top of the Premier League in outstanding fashion with a ruthless victory at Fulham. Mikel Arteta’s side responded to Manchester City’s narrow victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday night by wrapping up this win by half-time as they opened up a 3-0 lead with a devastating attacking display. Gabriel Martinelli had already had a goal narrowly ruled out for offside by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), before defender Gabriel headed in Leandro Trossard’s corner after 21 minutes – the first of a trio of assists for the Belgian. Trossard then crossed for Martinelli to beat the static Antonee Robinson to head home at the far post five minutes later, before providing the delivery for captain Martin Odegaard’s cool finish in first-half stoppage time.

Fulham mounted a belated threat after the break as visiting keeper Aaron Ramsdale denied Bobby de Cordova-Reid, while Tosin Adarabioyo headed against the woodwork. Arsenal, however, were always in control and Arteta was able to re-introduce influential striker Gabriel Jesus for the first time since he required knee surgery after being injured playing for Brazil against Cameroon at the World Cup for a 13-minute cameo. This had all the hallmarks of a hazardous fixture for Arsenal given Fulham’s impressive campaign and the pressure on after Manchester City reduced their lead to two points. But, once again, the steel, character and skill that has characterised their season was on show.

The Ā£21m capture of Trossard from Brighton in January looks increasingly shrewd by the week and he ran riot down Fulham’s right flank, taking on the role of creator-in-chief before being substituted to a standing ovation in the closing stages. Arsenal have been presented with examinations of different types on a regular basis in this impressive attempt to win a first title since 2004 – and they passed this one with flying colours. The Gunners dug deep to come from two goals down to beat Bournemouth in the 97th minute in last weekend’s game at Emirates Stadium, while here they stamped their authority all over a lacklustre Fulham from the first whistle. Manchester City had asked the question by winning at Selhurst Park. Arsenal provided the answer at Craven Cottage with their fifth successive Premier League win.

Sporting Lisbon 2 Arsenal 2

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says his side must “improve massively” if they are to continue winning games after the Gunners were held by Sporting Lisbon in an entertaining Europa League last-16 first leg. France defender William Saliba put the Premier League leaders ahead with a towering header before Sporting took advantage of poor defending to score either side of half-time through Goncalo Inacio and Paulinho. An own goal by the hosts’ Japanese midfielder Hidemasa Morita ensured Arsenal will start on level terms when the teams meet in the return leg at Emirates Stadium next Thursday (20:00 GMT).

However, Arteta was unimpressed his side had conceded two goals for the second successive game. In an absorbing game in the Portuguese capital, Arsenal’s first-half lead lasted just 12 minutes before Inacio nodded home the equaliser after hesitancy from keeper Matt Turner. Paulinho fired Sporting ahead from close range only for Arsenal to equalise through a wicked deflection off Morita. Both teams created numerous chances in a free-flowing encounter. Sporting’s former Tottenham winger Marcus Edwards was denied by Turner when the score was 1-1, while Paulinho wasted a great opportunity to make it 3-1. Arsenal had a chance to take a lead back to London but Fabio Vieira’s header was kept out by Antonio Adan.

Arsenal are chasing a first Premier League title since 2003-04 but Arteta clearly sees the Europa League as something worth winning rather than a distraction to the main prize. Despite making six changes, he fielded several key players in Portugal including Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal’s leading scorer in the Premier League – and Bukayo Saka before Sunday’s London derby at Fulham (14:00). It is all to play for in seven days’ time in the return leg against Sporting, but Arteta’s side will have to improve defensively if they are to advance to the quarter-finals against opponents who started the season in the Champions League. Poland defender Jakub Kiwior made his first Arsenal appearance since arriving in January from Serie A side Spezia for Ā£17.6m while Turner produced a mixed performance after replacing first-choice keeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal 3 Bournemouth 2

Reiss Nelson scored a stunning 97th-minute winner as Premier League leaders Arsenal came from two goals down to beat Bournemouth. Bournemouth had taken the lead after just 9.11 seconds through Philip Billing, and went 2-0 up via a Marco Senesi header. However Arsenal pulled level with goals by Thomas Partey and Ben White, before Nelson struck. The winger, making his first appearance since 12 November, slammed in from 25 yards in the seventh minute of stoppage time. Arsenal’s Premier League lead is restored to five points, after they had seemed certain to cede ground to Manchester City, winners over Newcastle in the early kick-off.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone after threatening a major upset – and beginning at top speed. Billing’s goal was the second-quickest in Premier League history – only Shane Long, who scored for Southampton after 7.69 seconds at Watford in April 2019, has netted faster. Nelson had played just 64 minutes of Premier League football this season – having struggled with thigh problems – before being thrown on as a second-half substitute by Mikel Arteta here. Yet the homegrown talent was the unexpected hero, collecting a half-cleared corner outside the area and bending a superb strike beyond Bournemouth keeper Neto. The outpouring of emotion that followed was immense; the Arsenal bench cleared as virtually every player and member of staff rushed to celebrate with the match-winner.

Nelson had earlier, with practically his first Premier League touch of 2023, provided the assist for White to equalise with his first Arsenal goal. White, brought on as a half-time substitute after Takehiro Tomiyasu endured a torrid 45 minutes, struck Nelson’s deep cross first time and his shot was palmed away from behind the line by Neto, with referee Christopher Kavanagh giving it via goalline technology. What is remarkable is that Nelson, had everything gone to plan for Arsenal, would have been very unlikely to reach the pitch. He replaced Emile Smith Rowe, himself a sub for Leandro Trossard, who suffered a first half injury. However it is with unexpected twists, remarkable moments and incredible goals that titles are often won.

Arsenal 4 Everton 0

Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points as they thrashed struggling Everton at Emirates Stadium. Sean Dyche’s side, who remain in the relegation places, frustrated Arsenal until five minutes before half-time, when Oleksandr Zinchenko’s pass played in Bukayo Saka for a thumping finish. The contest was effectively over in first-half stoppage time when Saka robbed the dawdling Idrissa Gueye to play in Gabriel Martinelli. The flag went up for offside after he drove past Jordan Pickford but the decision was overturned after a VAR check.

Everton had no answers and Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard wrapped up their third successive league victory when he side-footed home Leandro Trossard’s cross after 71 minutes. It was now simply a question of how many Arsenal would score to improve their goal difference, Martinelli adding his second and the Gunners’ fourth from Eddie Nketiah’s cross ten minutes from time. Martinelli once again demonstrated his rich promise with two crisp finishes but Saka was the star of the show, giving a glorious illustration of his significance to this Arsenal side. He became the sixth-youngest player in Premier League history, at 21, to reach 50 goals and assists as he ensured the frustration that threatened Arsenal was wiped away in the crucial minutes before half-time.

Saka gave Pickford no chance when he lashed a powerful drive past the England goalkeeper at his near post, then his speed of thought and action robbed Gueye to play in Martinelli. It was game over after that. Arsenal played so fluently as Everton subsided, and in the final reckoning the scoreline could have been even more emphatic. The Gunners’ character and resilience was put to the test after the damaging home loss to nearest rivals Manchester City, but they have responded brilliantly with wins at Aston Villa and Leicester City, then this cruise against an Everton side in desperate trouble.

Leicester City 0 Arsenal 1

Gabriel Martinelli’s goal was enough to extend Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought win at Leicester City. The Brazilian struck in the first minute of the second half, latching on to a deft pass from Leandro Trossard to roll his shot past Danny Ward. Trossard had a fine first-half goal disallowed after Arsenal’s Ben White held Ward in the build-up. Arsenal lead Manchester City by five points before Pep Guardiola’s side face Bournemouth in Saturday’s 17:30 GMT kick-off. Leicester, who remain 14th, were lacklustre although Kelechi Iheanacho had a goal flagged for offside shortly after Trossard’s disallowed effort and Anthony Dewsbury-Hall curled a shot just wide in the second half.

Arsenal’s recent league wobble, which saw Arteta’s side drop seven points from a possible nine, may be behind them but they struggled to hit their fluent best at King Power Stadium. Mikel Arteta’s side dominated possession in the early stages and seemed to have hit their stride when the game’s first controversial moment occurred. Trossard’s brilliant curling shot from outside the area was initially given as a goal, but referee Craig Pawson overturned it for sustained holding after consulting the video assistant referee. Arsenal’s Ben White had his left arm around Ward’s right as the ball came over at a corner, while White and Ashley Barnes also appeared to collide during the same incident.

Arsenal’s sense of injustice increased a few minutes later when their claims for a penalty, after Bukayo Saka tangled with Harry Souttar, were waved away by Pawson. Martinelli grabbed his ninth goal of the league season just 51 seconds into the second half when he calmly stroked the ball past Ward, sustaining a painful blow to the right leg when Wilfred Ndidi accidentally trod on him in the process of scoring. Saka also had a goal ruled out when Martinelli was flagged for offside, but Arsenal struggled to impose themselves as the second half progressed. Oleksandr Zinchenko, given the captain’s armband by his club as a mark of respect in the week of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of his native Ukraine, came close to a second goal in as many games when Ward pushed away the defender’s curling shot.

After this win and victory at Aston Villa a week ago, Arsenal now have the chance to make the most of home advantage against opposition in the lower reaches of the table, as they face Everton on Wednesday and Bournemouth next Saturday.