Double against Saka Palace sends Arsenal eight points clear
Arsenal will go into the international break eight points clear in the Premier League title race after Bukayo Saka scored twice in Sunday’s 4-1 home defeat of Crystal Palace.
With chasers Manchester City otherwise entangled in the FA Cup this weekend, Arsenal took full advantage with Gabriel Martinelli’s opening scoring and Granit Xhaka also on target.
Jeffrey Schlupp scored Palace’s first goal in five league games in the second half to raise their hopes, but Arsenal were never going to miss an opportunity to consolidate their hold on top spot as they chase a first English title for 19 years. Were staying
Arsenal’s ninth win in the London derby this season, a new English league record, took them to 69 points from 28 games, one game less than defending champions City on 61.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side knocked Sporting out of the Europa League on penalties on Thursday but a sixth Premier League win looked in the bag at halftime, with Martinelli opening the scoring in the 28th minute from a pass from Saka.
Saka doubled the lead in the 43rd when he guided a low shot past Palace’s teenage goalkeeper Joe Whitworth after being played in by Ben White.
Arsenal were on a rampage when Xhaka took a 3-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half after an assist from Leandro Trossard.
Schlupp replied just before the hour and there were a few jittery moments with Wilfried Zaha firing inches before Saka ensured with his 12th league goal of the season for a 74th, guiding a shot from Kiernan Tierney’s pass for the first time.
Palace, who sacked manager Patrick Vieira this week and are without a win in 2023, remain in 12th place but only three points above the relegation zone.
There was a sense of excitement at the final whistle with spring in the air in north London, with Arsenal now assured of an eight-point lead heading into April as the season halts briefly for England’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
“Very happy, we needed that win and as I always say, we look at games as finals and we did it today,” said Martinelli, who missed a penalty in the shootout against Sporting in midweek. (Reporting by Martin Harman; Editing by Ken Ferris)