Friday, September 22, 2023

EPL: Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 to stay in title hunt

Arsenal beat Newcastle
Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard, centre, and Gabriel Martinelli, right, celebrate after defeating Newcastle 2-0.

NEWCASTLE (England), May 8: Arsenal showed no sign of raising the white flag in the Premier League title race with a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United on Sunday to close the gap on leaders Manchester City to one point.
Defeat would have left Arsenal’s hopes of a first title since 2004 hanging by a thread but Martin Odegaard’s brilliant strike and a Fabian Schar own goal sealed a vital victory.
Newcastle, bidding to cement third place and take a big step towards a top-four finish, dominated early on but Odegaard’s sweet strike after 14 minutes gave the visitors the lead.
Schar then inadvertently turned in Gabriel Martinelli’s cross with 20 minutes remaining.
City, who have won 10 straight games to catch and then overhaul Arsenal, have 82 points from 34 games with the Gunners on 81 having played a game more.
Newcastle stay third on 65 but Manchester United could overtake them later on Sunday if they win at West Ham United.
If ever there was a test of the resolve of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal team it was a trip to St James’s Park to face a Newcastle side on a roll in their quest to return to the Champions League after an absence of two decades.
They also had the bitter memory of a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle a year ago that scuppered their top-four hopes.
But this Arsenal side, despite the recent wobbles that have cost them top spot, are made of much sterner stuff.
“The message (to City) is we’ll go as hard as we can for three games and we will be pushing and if City slip up we will be there to pick up the pieces,” keeper Aaron Ramsdale said.
Arsenal were fortunate to survive an early onslaught with Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy thumping a second-minute shot against the foot of the post and Alexander Isak forcing Ramsdale into the first of several important saves.
Newcastle were then awarded a penalty after a Bruno Guimaraes shot was blocked by Jakub Kiwior and referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot for apparent handball.
But after a VAR check the decision was overturned to the obvious relief of the visitors.
Arsenal then took the lead with their first shot as the inspirational Odegaard was allowed too much time and sent a skidding effort inside the post from outside the penalty area.
The visitors were devastatingly effective on the counter-attack and Odegaard was at the heart of all their best work, releasing Martinelli who forced Nick Pope into a smart save.
Pope came to Newcastle’s rescue again in stoppage time at the end of a frenetic first half, keeping out Odegaard’s shot with his legs after the Norwegian looked favourite to score.
The second half began in almost identical fashion to the first with Murphy’s cross headed against the post by Isak and Ramsdale somehow keeping out Schar’s close-range header.
Arsenal were a threat on the break though and Martinelli curled a shot against the crossbar.
The Brazilian the wrapped it up as he carried the ball down the left before accelerating to the byline and fizzing in a low cross that deflected off the unfortunate Schar into the net.
“Fine margins for us today and we just came out on the wrong side of them,” Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said. “If Jacob’s chance goes in early on it is a totally different game.”
David De Gea error gifts West Ham 1-0 win over Manchester United
A howler by Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea gifted West Ham United three vital points in their battle against relegation as the hosts secured a 1-0 Premier League win at the London Stadium on Sunday.
United are fourth on 63 points after 34 games, one ahead of Liverpool and with a game in hand over the Merseysiders, while West Ham are 15th on 37 points, seven above the drop zone.
Visiting forwards Marcus Rashford and Antony hit the post in the first half but De Gea’s error will capture the headlines as it reopened the chase for Champions League places.
Said Benrahma’s bouncing shot from distance looked to be no real threat but although Spaniard De Gea dived and got a hand to it he failed to keep the ball out as West Ham took the lead.
“It’s part of football. You have a lot in your head but football is a game of mistakes,” United boss Erik ten Hag told the BBC.
“There’s a team, you have to bounce back and deal with the effect. You can also say in front of goal we weren’t clinical enough.”
The goal knocked the wind out of United’s sails and they were lucky not to concede a penalty when Victor Lindelof moved his arm into the path of a ball from Benrahma, with VAR deciding not to recommend a spot kick as the first half came to a close.
De Gea redeemed himself somewhat early in the second half with a superb reaction save to deny Tomas Soucek but he looked shaky again as Soucek found the net with a header in the 73rd minute, only to see the effort chalked off for offside.
With United striker Wout Weghorst ineffective, Anthony Martial added a much-needed focal point for their attack when he came off the bench in the 57th minute.
Rashford forced a quick reaction stop from Lukasz Fabianski and Martial also had an effort saved as United increased the pressure, with Martial also flashing a stoppage-time header across the face of the goal.
Despite 10 minutes of stoppage time, United could not score and they slumped to a second league defeat in a row after losing at Brighton & Hove Albion by the same scoreline on Thursday.
West Ham captain Declan Rice was well aware of the significance of the result in terms of his side’s battle to stay in the Premier League.
“The points it puts us on now put a nice gap between us and the teams at the bottom. There’s still three (games) to go but the significance of the three points is massive,” he told BT Sport.
“I think that’s our best performance at home this season. Front foot, aggressive one against one, on the ball, everything today was a real positive performance,” he added.
Hammers boss David Moyes praised his side’s “huge character” but cautioned that they were not out of the woods just yet.
“The number isn’t confirmed that it keeps you in the Premier League, so we have to look forward to the next game and try and pick up more points,” he told BT Sport. (Agencies)