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 as Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw by Southampton on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal 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 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.
“We scored beautiful goals. I’m really happy to win away from home, especially with a clean sheet,” Arteta said.
“It’s great to see the goals distributed through the team. Leandro laid on three assists and could also have scored too.”
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 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 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.
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 stalemate against bottom of the table Southampton.
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.
The Brazil midfielder’s initial booking for a high challenge on Carlos Alcaraz in the 34th minute 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 played over 500 games in Europe and never once got a red card. Now he has two in the Premier League,” United manager Erik ten Hag said.
“His absence is not the issue. We will deal with that. This game was influenced by the referee.”
Newcastle climbed above Liverpool into fifth place with a 2-1 win against Wolves at St James’ Park.
Sweden striker Alexander Isak headed Newcastle in front from Kieran Trippier’s 26th-minute free-kick.
Hwang Hee-chan stabbed in Wolves’ 70th-minute leveller after a miscued clearance from Trippier, but Miguel Almiron came off the bench to win it nine minutes later when his shot deflected in off Max Kilman.
After their first win in six games in all competitions, Newcastle are four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with two games in hand in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
West Ham were booed off despite moving out of the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at the London Stadium.
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.