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Arsenal go 8 points clear on top of league

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London, March 20

Arsenal eased to a convincing 4-1 win over Crystal Palace putting themselves eight points ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand, in the race for the Premier League title.

With a break for international matches coming up, Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, hopes his players will return fit before their next league match, against Leeds, on April 1. He said: “They must really look after themselves in this period and that they come back with the same mindset and hunger from before to go into Leeds which is the only important game right now.”

He added: “Touch wood, but I want to think positive. They’re going to have to play games. We are in contact with all of them, they know how to look after themselves and hopefully it will all work out. It’s not a secret, if we want to maintain that level we have to give more.

“Just make sure every single day they do the right things, eat the right things, live the right way. It’s not a coincidence they behave consistently the way they do. That’s why they can perform at the level they do.”

Arsenal went on the attack from the start but Crystal Palace were resolute and defended well for almost the first half hour. They were unlucky not to take the lead in the 11th minute when Wilfred Zaha hit the bottom of the post to see the ball rebound off the goalkeeper and go for a corner.

It wasn’t long before Arsenal went into the lead when, in the 28th minute, Bukayo Saka crossed to Gabriel Martinelli on the left and the Brazilian unleashed a fierce left foot shot into the net. With 13 goals, the 21-year-old forward is Arsenal’s top scorer.

With a couple of minutes left before half-time, the Gunners doubled the lead. Saka collected the ball from Granit Xhaka’s shot across the goal and exchanged passes with Ben White before slamming in a shot inside the far post.

The game seemed to have been put beyond the visitors when, ten minutes after the break, Xhaka received a through pass from Leonardo Trossard and drove in Arsenal’s third goal. Palace might have got a glimmer of hope when they pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute with Jeffrey Schlupp scoring after Martin Odegaard was unable to clear from a corner.

Palace then missed a chance in the 71st minute when Zaha shot just wide of the far post. Arsenal had brought on substitute Kieron Tierney who produced an excellent low cut back in the 74th minute from which Saka hit his second goal of the match, taking his season’s tally to 12.

Two days before the match Palace sacked their manager Patrick Viera for poor results. The club have now played 12 league games without a win. Paddy McCarthy, their Under-21s coach took charge, he said: “The boys gave it their all and I can’t fault their effort. I definitely believe they have more than enough to get themselves out this situation.”

English Premier League results

On Sunday:

Arsenal 4 (Martinelli 28, Saka 43, 74, Xhaka 55) Crystal Palace 1 (Schlupp 63)

On Saturday

Aston Villa 3 (Luiz 7, Ramsey 80, Buendia 89) Bournemouth 0

Brentford 1 (Jensen 32) Leicester 1 (Barnes 52)

Chelsea 2 (Felix 52, Havertz 76-pen) Everton 2 (Doucoure 69, Simms 89)

Southampton 3 (Adams 46, Walcott 77, Ward-Prowse 90+3-pen) Tottenham 3 (Porro 45+1, Kane 65, Perisic 74)

Wolves 2 (Jonny 65, Cunha 73) Leeds 4 (Harrison 6, Ayling 49, Kristensen 62, Rodrigo 90+7)

On Friday

Nottingham Forest 1 (Dennis 26) Newcastle 2 (Isak 45+2, 90+3-pen)

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