Arsenal back on top with win over Brighton but Liverpool fail to cash in against Man Utd

Aston Villa stay in title chase with win at Brentford

By Reuters

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Arsenal's German midfielder Kai Havertz celebrates scoring the team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. - AFP
Arsenal's German midfielder Kai Havertz celebrates scoring the team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. - AFP

Published: Mon 18 Dec 2023, 1:49 AM

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 home victory against Brighton & Hove Albion before morning leaders Liverpool played out a disappointing 0-0 stalemate at home to Manchester United on Sunday.

Goals by Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz sealed the points for Arsenal to lift them to 39 points from 17 games with Liverpool and Aston Villa both on 38 points.

Villa's surprise title challenge continued to gather pace as they claimed a 2-1 victory from a stormy away clash at Brentford in which Ollie Watkins scored a late winner and both sides ended with 10 men.

West Ham United eased to a 3-0 home victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers that left them in eighth place.

Arsenal's title hopes were dealt a mortal blow last season when they lost 3-0 at home to Brighton but Mikel Arteta's side outclassed the south-coast club this time with a ruthless display.

Aston Villa's Moussa Diaby (C) battles for the ball with Brentford's Christian Norgaard (L) and Ben Mee, - AP
Aston Villa's Moussa Diaby (C) battles for the ball with Brentford's Christian Norgaard (L) and Ben Mee, - AP

"Incredible performance, a joy to watch from the start to the end against a very good team," Arteta said.

Brighton's spirit was broken eight minutes into the second half when defender Jan Paul van Hecke accidentally flicked a corner kick into the path of the unmarked Jesus at the far post, and the Brazilian striker headed home.

Pascal Gross had a chance to equalise with a rare Brighton chance before substitute Eddie Nketiah put Havertz through on goal and the German forward rifled into the bottom corner to seal the win for the Gunners.

Liverpool were expected to knock Arsenal off top spot in the day's later kickoff by beating a United side shorn of confidence after a run of poor results at home and in Europe.

Juergen Klopp's side dominated with 34 goal attempts but could not make any of them count as their 100% home record in all competitions was brought to an end.

For United, beaten 7-0 at Liverpool last season, it was a small step in the right direction after a humiliating 3-0 loss to Bournemouth last weekend and a meek home defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek that sent them crashing out of Europe.

Manchester United's Antony, right, and Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas challenge for the ball. - AP
Manchester United's Antony, right, and Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas challenge for the ball. - AP

They remain in seventh spot with 28 points and while the pressure continues on manager Erik Ten Hag, the point at Anfield at least showed the players are still behind the Dutchman.

"Building is the key word. We want to genuinely build on this game and show the character and desire. We want to show we're up for the fight," United's Scott McTominay, captain in place of the suspended Bruno Fernandes, told the BBC.

Villa's home record is spectacular, with 15 league wins on the bounce, but Unai Emery's side are now starting to pick up points on the road. They could go top of the league on Friday when they host bottom club Sheffield United.

Watkins, playing against his old club, headed in Jacob Ramsey's corner after 85 minutes and his celebrations sparked an ugly melee in the Brentford net.

Brentford had taken the lead before halftime through Keane Lewis-Potter, who reacted first to win the second ball at a corner and fire home his first Premier League goal.

The hosts had Ben Mee sent off after 71 minutes for a reckless lunge on substitute Leon Bailey and Villa made their numerical advantage count six minutes later when Alex Moreno headed in at the back post.

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Ten players were booked, as well as both managers, and Villa had Boubacar Kamara sent off in stoppage time for grabbing Yehor Yarmoliuk by the neck.

Mohammed Kudus scored twice for West Ham with Jarrod Bowen also on target in a routine dispatching of Wolves.


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