Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli, Rob Holding and William Saliba celebrate after the match. | Image Credit: Reuters
Arsenal closed 2022 with a 4-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday that gave them a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League after title rivals Manchester City and Newcastle United both dropped points. points.
Arsenal opened up a 3-0 lead through Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah but Brighton did not give up, pulling back two goals either side of a Gabriel Martinelli strike to set up a nervy finish for the Gunners , who won.
The victory leaves Arsenal in pole position on 43 points from 16 games with champions City on 36, Newcastle on 34 from 17 and Manchester United on 32 from 16.
Earlier in the day City squandered their chance to pile up the pressure on Arsenal, drawing 1-1 at home to struggling Everton despite Erling Haaland’s 21st league goal of the season giving them leading.
Newcastle United also dropped home points as a 0-0 stalemate at Leeds United deprived Eddie Howe’s side of a seventh straight league win.
Marcus Rashford provided the perfect response to being left out for disciplinary reasons by scoring Manchester United’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers that lifted them into the top four of the Premier League on Saturday.
The in-form Rashford was benched by manager Erik ten Hag after being late to a team meeting but came off the bench to head home the 76th minute winner at Molineux.
Southampton will end the year on a low note after conceding late to lose 2-1 at Fulham — their fifth defeat in a row.
Crystal Palace recovered from a 3-0 home defeat by Fulham on Monday to beat Bournemouth 2-0 away thanks to goals from Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze.
Rashford has been a renaissance for club and country and after scoring three goals for England at the World Cup has now scored three goals in three games in all competitions since returning.
But his day did not start as planned with manager Ten Hag leaving him on the starting line as punishment for a minor indiscipline.
Without him, United struggled to break down a Wolves rearguard with his replacement Alejandro Garnacho wasting the visitors’ best chance to break the deadlock.
Rashford was sent on for Garnacho and sealed the points in the 76th minute when he held off Wolves substitute Jonny before slotting the ball home from close range.
“He was bright, he was energetic and he scored a goal to give a good reaction,” said Ten Hag. “Everyone has to follow the rules and if you’re reacting like this, it’s the right answer.”
When Haaland latched onto Riyad Mahrez’s pass to tap home in the 24th minute, it looked like a formality that City would cut Arsenal’s lead down to two points.
But Everton, on a three-game losing streak in the league, had other ideas and stunned the hosts after the break when Demarai Gray cut inside and unleashed a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area that beat the City goalkeeper Ederson.
Everton move two points above the drop zone.
Newcastle’s Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes wore a yellow shirt with the number 10 on the back during a minute’s applause for compatriot Pele who died on Thursday as the Premier League paid tribute to the iconic player.
But he was unable to inspire his side to a victory against a resilient Leeds side who hung on by a point.