BRIGHTON, England (AP)Arsenal stretched its Premier League lead to seven points with a 4-2 win at Brighton on Saturday capped by a well-worked breakaway goal from Gabriel Martinelli.
Goals from Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah had Arsenal 3-0 up by the 47th minute and seemingly cruising to an easy win, but Kaoru Mitoma kept Brighton in the game with a goal 25 minutes from time.
Odegaard then provided a sublime throughball for Martinelli to race half the length of the field and poke in a fourth to restore the three-goal advantage.
Brighton substitute Evan Ferguson claimed his first Premier League goal in the 77th and Mitoma thought he had set up a tense finish with an 89th-minute strike, but it was disallowed for offside.
Despite an unnecessarily nervy end, the win meant Arsenal took full advantage of second-place City’s slip-up earlier as the defending champion was held to a 1-1 draw at home against Everton. Third-place Newcastle, meanwhile, saw its six-game winning streak end with a 0-0 draw against Leeds.
”It’s still a long, long run to go,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said of the title race. ”My excitement comes when I go in the dressing room and the players are talking about what they should have done better today. And that means that they know that we can still play better and be better.”
Brighton had won three of its last four but Saka put the visitors ahead after just a little more than a minute when he reacted quickly to control a deflected shot from Martinelli before sidefooting into the net.
Odegaard was once again Arsenal’s main orchestrator in midfield and nearly set up Martinelli for a second with some remarkable footwork in the area but ended up doubling the lead himself in the 39th. The ball fell to the Norway international in the area after a corner and, while he scuffed his shot into the ground, it bounced perfectly to sail into the net.
Nketiah then seemingly put the result beyond doubt just after the restart when he was on hand to send in a rebound after another shot from Martinelli, making it two goals in two starts for the Arsenal academy product in the absence of injured striker Gabriel Jesus.
Brighton refused to surrender, though, and Mitoma stayed just onside to collect a pass in the area and slot a shot past Aaron Ramsdale to give the hosts some life.
Suddenly Brighton was pouring forward, but Odegaard made them pay with a perfectly weighted first-touch pass that set Martinelli clear on the counter. The Brazilian outpaced Tariq Lamptey from halfway before finishing low under Robert Sanchez for the fourth.
Arteta exuberantly celebrated the goal on the touchline, but there was still plenty of drama for him to endure.
Poor defending from William Saliba allowed 18-year-old striker Ferguson to sneak in and poke a milestone goal through the legs of Ramsdale.
The Gunners then looked to be in real danger of throwing away two points when Mitoma diverted his second of the game into the bottom right corner.
But the jubilant atmosphere was swiftly quelled by VAR intervention before the visitors navigated six minutes of added time to tighten their stranglehold on first place.
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