EPL: Saka stars as rampant Arsenal move eight points clear | Football News

LONDON: Arsenal jumped eight points clear at the top of the premier league as Bukayo Sakathe brace of inspired a 4-1 rout of crystal palace on Sunday.
Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring in the first half at the Emirates Stadium to put the leaders on course for a sixth straight league win.
It was redemption for Martinelli, whose missed penalty condemned Arsenal to a Europa League round of 16 loss in their shootout against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Mikel Arteta’s side needed just 45 minutes against struggling Palace to erase the bitter taste of this defeat.
Saka followed up Martinelli’s goal by doubling Arsenal’s lead before half-time.
Granit Xhaka scored the third goal after the break and Jeff Schlupp’s response was no consolation as the influential Saka’s second capped Arsenal’s elegant display.
Arsenal now have a substantial eight-point lead over second-placed Manchester City, who took the Premier League weekend off to beat Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
With a game behind Arsenal and a crucial clash with the Gunners looming on April 26, Pep Guardiola’s champions will continue to believe they can win a fifth title in six seasons.
But as the international break approached, Arsenal ensured that the fate of the title race would be in their hands in the final 10 games.
After giving up top spot with a loss to City in February, Arsenal reacted impressively, showing a maturity and composure far beyond the Gunners sides who have consistently underperformed in recent years.
Arteta deserves huge credit for transforming a side that blew out of fourth place last season.
Less than a year later, Arsenal, the first English side to win nine London derbies in a single season, look like champions-elect.
Arteta had called Palace clash the most important game of his managerial career and his players rose to the challenge once again.
Arsenal played a grueling 120 minutes against Sporting before their Europa League campaign came to a painful end.
Such a quick turnaround could have tested Arsenal mentally and physically.
But they had the perfect opponents in a Palace side now winless in their 13 games in 2023 and reeling from the sacking of boss Patrick Vieira on Friday.
Vieira was a key member of Arsenal’s last title-winning side 19 years ago and Gunners fans chanted his name throughout the game.
Arteta had described Arsenal’s run-in as ’11 finals’ and he made six changes to freshen up his squad for the first of those hurdles.
Palace, led by caretaker boss Paddy McCarthy, almost took a shock lead when Wilfried Zaha’s shot hit the post, deflected diving Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale and bounced wide wide.
It served as a wake-up call for Arsenal and they made the breakthrough in the 28th minute.
Saka cleared into the penalty area to collect Ben White’s pass and returned his cross to Martinelli.
The Brazilian striker took a smart touch to escape Joel Ward before driving a clinical finish past Joe Whitworth from 12 yards for his sixth goal in his last eight appearances.
Saka ensured Arsenal’s relentless pressure paid off again in the 43rd minute.
He gave the ball back to White and his return pass was perfectly weighted for the England striker, who planted a cool finish in the far corner from close range.
Arsenal were rampant and Xhaka put the result beyond doubt in the 55th minute.
A sumptuous exchange of passes around the Palace area left the visitors perplexed before Xhaka applied a deft finishing touch to Leandro Trossard’s through ball.
Schlupp stabbed Palace’s first league goal in nearly seven hours after Arsenal failed to clear a corner in the 63rd minute.
But Saka had the last laugh with his 13th goal this season, a fine first time thanks to Kieran Tierney’s pass in the 74th minute.


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