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Arsenal, Man United Cut Gap on Chelsea in Top Four
By Demola Ojo
Arsenal yesterday beat London rivals Chelsea 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium to move within three points of their fourth place opponents with 15 matches to go in the Premier League race.
Manchester United are also level on points with Arsenal and three behind Chelsea as the race for the coveted fourth place – which guarantees Champions League football – gathers pace.
lexandre Lacazette put Arsenal ahead in the 14th minute when he made the most of a poor Hector Bellerin cross with a fine first touch before turning and beating Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga at his near post with a fierce strike.
Arsenal’s intense pressing hampered Chelsea’s ability to play the ball from the back, particularly in the first half, and the Gunners deservedly added a second through captain Laurent Koscielny in the 39th minute.
Chelsea failed to mark well enough at another set-piece and Koscielny missed a free header but the ball fortuitously looped in off his shoulder.
Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea struggled to create in the first half but did hit the post on the stroke of half-time through Marcos Alonso’s header at a corner.
They posed greater threat in the second half but failed to have a shot on target until the 82nd minute as Arsenal’s defence, led by the excellent Koscielny, held firm.
Chelsea had 64% possession but failed to create any clear opportunities from open play with their passing and build-up too slow. Their one shot on target came from Alonso from a tight angle on the left-side of the box and was easily parried away from Bernd Leno.
Meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the first Manchester United manager to win his first six league games in charge as his side held on to beat Brighton 2-1.
It was United’s seventh straight win since the Norwegian took over at Old Trafford on an interim basis a month ago.
Paul Pogba put United in front after winning and then converting a penalty in the 27th minute. Marcus Rashford doubled the lead just before half-time with a beautiful solo goal on his 150th appearance for the club.
Pascal Gross halved the deficit for the visitors when he scored in off the bar with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Brighton improved in the second half but their wretched away record continued as they fell to a fifth defeat in their last eight Premier League games.