Arsenal back on top after easy win at Brighton

AFP , Saturday 6 Apr 2024

Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League as goals from Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard added the gloss to another mature performance from the Gunners to beat Brighton 3-0 on Saturday.

Arsenal s English midfielder #07 Bukayo Saka (R) celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on April 6, 2024. AFP


Mikel Arteta's men edge one point clear of Liverpool, who face Manchester United on Sunday, and champions Manchester City at the top of the table.

Saka opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Havertz slotted in his fifth goal in his last nine Arsenal games.

Leandro Trossard came off the bench to haunt his old club with a cool chip over Bart Verbruggen for the third five minutes from time.

Arteta could even afford the luxury of replacing Saka just after the hour mark in perfect preparation for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Brighton had not lost at home in 14 games in all competitions stretching back to September, but they had not met a side of Arsenal's class on that run.

They have now won 10 and draw one, away to Manchester City, of their last 11 league games to put themselves in position for a first Premier League title in 20 years.

Set-pieces have been a major weapon for Arsenal this season and the nearly led within seconds as Gabriel headed Martin Odegaard's inviting free-kick wide.

Saka was rested for Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Luton and should have marked his return with a goal before he broke the deadlock as the England international fired wide with just Verbruggen to beat.

The Dutch international goalkeeper then produced a stunning save to deny Gabriel Jesus and the Brazilian headed another good chance wide from Havertz's inviting cross.

But Arsenal's pressure finally found its reward on 33 minutes.

Jesus was tripped inside the area by Tariq Lamptey and the defender's protestations that he got a touch on the ball fell on deaf ears.

Saka took responsibility from the spot and sent Verbruggen the wrong way for his 17th goal of the season.

Arsenal have now kept five consecutive clean sheets on the road in the Premier League and were rarely threatened by an impotent Brighton attack.

Julio Enciso came closest to a response for the Seagulls with a curling effort from outside the box that David Raya did well to turn behind.

Arsenal were less threatening after the break but scored the all-important second goal when Jorginho got to the by-line and his cross was tapped in at the near post by Havertz.

The German international then turned provider for the third as he set Trossard galloping clear in behind the Brighton defence to score on his first return to the Amex since leaving for the Emirates in January 2023.

City were 4-2 winners over Crystal Palace earlier on Saturday and now the pressure is on Liverpool to respond to their title challengers when they return to Old Trafford seeking revenge.

Just three weeks ago Jurgen Klopp's men were beaten 4-3 by United in a thrilling FA Cup quarter-final.

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