Eddie Nketiah bolstered Arsenal’s bid to finish in the top four of the Premier League with a brace in their 2-1 win against Leeds as the Yorkshire club fell into the relegation zone after Everton’s 2-1 win over Leicester on Sunday. While second-placed Manchester City waited for their chance to take a three-point lead over league leaders Liverpool with a win over Newcastle later on Sunday, the focus in the early games of the day was on the top four and the relegation battle.
Nketiah scored twice in the opening 10 minutes at the Emirates Stadium as Mikel Arteta’s side took their fourth consecutive win.
Leeds had skipper Luke Ayling sent away and although Diego Llorente got one back, it was too little, too late for Jesse Marsch’s wrestlers.
Fourth-placed Arsenal are four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, with three games remaining for both teams in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.
Tottenham’s gritty 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday had kept them in the hunt, but Arsenal will visit their north London rivals on Thursday, knowing a win would guarantee they finish above Antonio Conte’s men.
Arteta signed a three-year contract extension on Friday and he is on track to repay that confidence by leading Arsenal into their first Champions League campaign since 2016/17.
Nketiah was loaned out to Leeds earlier in his career, but the Arsenal forward showed no mercy for his former club.
In the fifth minute, Nketiah took advantage of a poor goal from Illan Meslier, eliminating the Leeds keeper and tapping into the empty net.
Nketiah barely celebrated out of respect for Leeds, but five minutes later he struck again, this time on a cross from Gabriel Martinelli with a fine finish from 12 yards.
A dismal day for Leeds took a turn for the worse in the 27th minute when Ayling was sent off after a VAR assessment of his rough outing on Martinelli.
Llorente narrowed the deficit with a smart finish from Leeds’ first corner in the 66th minute, but Arsenal held on.
Leeds are third at the bottom of the table due to a worse goal difference than Burnley.
– Everton out of the bottom three –
Everton took full advantage of Leeds’ stumbling block as they defeated Leicester to secure a second straight win.
Frank Lampard’s side arrived at King Power Stadium with just one win and three draws from 16 away matches, including losses in their last seven games on their travels.
But Lampard and his players got a rousing farewell from Everton fans outside the club’s Finch Farm training ground as they left for Leicester on Sunday morning.
Everton responded to that statement with a dream start.
Ukrainian left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko ran on Alex Iwobi’s flick and scored in the sixth minute with a stunning volley from the edge of the area.
Everton relinquished the lead five minutes later when Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman went for a header, but collided and let Patson Daka run through, beating Jordan Pickford.
However, Mason Holgate won for Everton in the 30th minute, the defender converting the rebound after Kasper Schmeichel saved a header from Richarlison.
Everton, who are hoping to avoid playing at the second tier for the first time since 1954, are one point above the relegation zone with a game in hand.
West Ham crushed relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road to ease the pain of their Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
Said Benrahma gave West Ham the lead after 12 minutes when his shot bounced off Max Aarons and squirmed past Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Mikhail Antonio doubled West Ham’s lead after 30 minutes with his first league goal since January 1.
Benrahma took the third stroke just before half time and Manuel Lanzini converted a 65th minute penalty after Jacob Sorensen’s handball.
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