Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five

Published December 3, 2023
LONDON: Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard (second L) scores during the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.—AFP
LONDON: Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard (second L) scores during the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.—AFP

LONDON: Arsenal survived a late scare against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League as Burnley lifted themselves off the bottom with a 5-0 trouncing of 10-man Sheffield United.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, brimming with confidence after their 6-0 hammering of RC Lens in the Champions League in midweek, raced into a 2-0 lead at the Emirates within 13 minutes.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring and Arsenal doubled their lead when Oleksandr Zinchenko cut the ball back for Martin Odegaard, who picked out the bottom corner.

The home side came agonisingly close to a third goal when Gabriel Martinelli cannoned a shot off the post towards the end of the first half.

But they failed to put the game to bed and were made to sweat when Wolves forward Matheus Cunha found the top corner in the 86th minute to set up a tense finale.

Despite the scare, Arsenal, last year’s runners-up, held on to win 2-1 and notch their 10th win in 14 league games, which moves them four points clear of champions Manchester City, who host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

“Football is not perfect, but I’m really happy with the way we played,” Arteta told the BBC. “It should have been a much bigger scoreline. We made a mistake and they take the chance, and it’s game on in the Premier League.”

At the other end of the table, Vincent Kompany’s Burnley put five goals past Sheffield at Turf Moor.

Jay Rodriguez fired the home side ahead with just 15 seconds on the clock — the fastest goal of the season so far.

Jacob Bruun Larsen extended their lead shortly afterwards and Sheffield’s task was made almost impossible when Oli McBurnie received a second yellow card shortly before the break.

Zeki Amdouni made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute with Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill also finding the net as the floodgates opened.

Paul Heckingbottom’s men are stuck on just a single win and have now conceded five goals or more on three occasions this season.

But Burnley are just two points behind 17th-placed Luton Town after only their second win of the season and Kompany said he hoped the three points would be a launch pad.

“I think the guys have deserved it,” he said. “They have performed well for a while. This league is brutal.

“I haven’t felt the nerves (from the team). I could barely contain them, they were raring to go. The frustration of last week (conceding two late goals against West Ham United) didn’t turn into negativity. It turned into ‘we’ll show people’.”

Luton sank to a 3-1 defeat at Brentford, where Neal Maupay opened the scoring from close range early in the second half and Ben Mee made it two.

Substitute Jacob Brown rifled a shot low beyond Mark Flekken in the 76th minute to give the visitors hope but Shandon Baptiste restored Brentford’s two-goal cushion just five minutes later.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2023

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