EPL: Arsenal end winless run, beat Chelsea

•10-man Villa beat Palace; Fulham, Saints draw


A rejuvenated Arsenal recorded an important victory over Chelsea to end their seven-game run without a win in the Premier League and ease the pressure on boss Mikel Arteta.


Two first-half goals set the platform for the Gunners’ first top-flight win since November 1. Alexandre Lacazette sent goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the wrong way from the penalty spot and Granit Xhaka curled in a superb freekick 10 minutes later to put Arteta’s side in control. Bukayo Saka’s cross then dropped into the top corner early in the second half to put the game beyond the visitors.


Tammy Abraham tapped in from close range to make it a nervy final five minutes for the hosts and Jorginho then saw his weak penalty saved by Bernd Leno. But it was an otherwise lacklustre performance by Frank Lampard’s side, who missed the chance to go second.


It was a well-deserved victory for Arsenal, who climb to 14th and will hope any talk of a relegation battle is now behind them. And Aston Villa’s impressive progress from relegation strugglers to the top six is down to the “maturity” of the players, says boss Dean Smith. Villa overcame Tyrone Mings’ first-half dismissal to see off disappointing Crystal Palace comfortably and move to within three points of second-placed Leicester City.


Smith’s side were leading 1-0 when Mings was dismissed by referee Anthony Taylor for a foul on Wilfried Zaha – six minutes after both players had been booked for clashing. But Mings’ loss galvanised Villa, who went on to score two further goals to make it three wins in four games. At Craven Cottage, Fulham and Southampton played out a goalless draw in a hard-fought Premier League encounter.


The visitors twice had the ball in the back of the Fulham net but VAR correctly ruled both efforts out, with Shane Long offside before scoring and Che Adams also offside prior to teeing up Theo Walcott’s closerange finish. Defeat would have been harsh on the hosts, who dominated for long periods despite the absence of manager Scott Parker, who was self-isolating.


Now unbeaten in four league matches, they were unfortunate not to continue their recent improvement with a win. In the first game of the day, Leicester City twice came from behind to deny Manchester United a recordequalling 11th consecutive away win in the Premier League on Saturday.


Axel Tuanzebe diverted an effort from Jamie Vardy – who had had an otherwise quiet afternoon – into his own net in the 85th minute to keep the Foxes second in the table, reports the BBC. Bruno Fernandes had given United the lead with just over 10 minutes left when he latched on to substitute Edinson Cavani’s through ball and finished past Kasper Schmeichel.




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