Arsenal's Martin Odegaard celebrates scoring at Fulham
London (AFP) - Arsenal powered five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a stylish 3-0 win at Fulham, while Casemiro was sent off in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw against struggling Southampton on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s side had seen second placed Manchester City close the gap with victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The Gunners responded with the kind of composed display that has been the hallmark of their unexpected title charge.
First-half goals from Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard – all set up by the influential Leandro Trossard – put Arsenal on course for a fifth consecutive league win.
With 11 league games left, the north Londoners have the title in their sights.
Since being knocked out of pole position after a defeat against City, which came during a run of four games without a win, Arsenal have shown the mettle of potential champions with a strong response to that wobble.
It was Arsenal’s 11th victory from 14 away league matches this season, underlining the durability and maturity that has them in position to win the title for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2004.
There was more good news for Arsenal in the last 14 minutes as Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus made his first appearance since injuring his knee at last year’s World Cup.
With legendary Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger watching from the stands, the Gunners ensured their celebrity fan got satisfaction from his trip to Craven Cottage.
Gabriel put Arsenal ahead after 21 minutes as the Brazilian centre-back rose above three Fulham defenders to meet Trossard’s corner with a powerful close-range header.
Arsenal were rampant and they struck again with another aerial raid in the 26th minute.
Trossard was the provider once more, teasing his way down the left flank before lofting a cross towards Martinelli, who easily out-jumped Antonee Robinson to head home from close-range.
The Brazilian forward’s fifth goal in his last six appearances took him to 12 in all competitions, making him Arsenal’s leading scorer this term.
Odegaard put the result beyond doubt in the final seconds of the first half as Arsenal benefitted from more abject Fulham defending.
Producing his third assist of the afternoon, Trossard’s cross reached Odegaard in the Fulham area and the midfielder, granted far too much space, controlled on his thigh and set himself for a fierce strike that fizzed past Bernd Leno.
- Casemiro woe -
At Old Trafford, Casemiro’s dismissal forced third placed United to settle for a drab goalless draw.
United are unbeaten in their last 22 home games, but this was a limp performance in their first league match since last weekend’s humiliating 7-0 defeat at bitter rivals Liverpool.
Erik ten Hag’s team looked fatigued after beating Real Betis in the Europa League last-16 first leg on Thursday and had to hold on for a point after Casemiro was dismissed in the 34th minute.
The Brazil midfielder’s initial booking for a high challenge on Carlos Alcaraz was changed to a red card following a VAR check.
It was the former Real Madrid star’s second sending off in eight appearances following his red card against Crystal Palace, leaving him facing a four-match suspension.
Casemiro’s emotional response to his premature departure left him in need of consoling by United team-mate Antony as he left the pitch.
Southampton remain bottom of the table after their battling draw.
West Ham moved out of the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at the London Stadium.
West Ham, who started the day in 18th place, moved up one spot but were still booed off at full-time.
Villa went ahead with their first effort on target, Ollie Watkins heading in Emiliano Buendia’s cross in the 17th minute.
West Ham equalised nine minutes later when Said Benrahma converted a penalty awarded for Leon Bailey’s shove on Lucas Paqueta.
Sixth placed Newcastle host Wolves in Sunday’s late game.