For much of this Villa Park encounter, it looked as though Arsenal’s winless run was set to continue. The Gunners had not won for four matches in all competitions and in midweek suffered defeat against Manchester City, their main rivals for the title. Many pundits suggested that the momentum had shifted towards the Citizens, and it looked as though Arsenal would drop more points against Villa. Mikel Arteta’s side had twice fallen behind and were level going into stoppage time. However, two late goals for the visitors handed them the victory as the title race took another dramatic twist.
Villa took the lead through Ollie Watkins (5) but Bukayo Saka (16) levelled. Philippe Coutinho (31) restored Unai Emery’s side’s lead, but Oleksandr Zinchenko equalised just after the hour mark. Arsenal had demonstrated that they possessed plenty of character and fighting spirit, but the main drama was still to come.
Three minutes into added time Jorginho’s strike came back off the crossbar and deflected off Emiliano Martinez into the net to put Arsenal in front for the first time. And with the visiting fans celebrating wildly their joy was increased as substitute Gabriel Martinelli broke clear to add a fourth.
The result moved the Gunners two points clear at the top with a game in hand over Manchester City after the champions could only draw 1-1 at Nottingham Forest.
Manchester City failed to capitalise on their superb midweek victory over Arsenal as an 84th minute equaliser from Chris Wood handed Forest a share of the spoils. It was another vital point for Steve Cooper’s side as the East Midlands club look to move to safety.
A superb strike from Bernardo Silva had given Pep Guardiola’s side the lead as they dominated possession. The visitors then missed several good chances to increase their lead and put the game to bed. And they were punished when Wood equalised with the home side’s only shot on target.
City slip back to second in the table, two points behind Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
Everton bounced back from defeat in the Merseyside derby with new boss Sean Dyche’s second victory in three games. Seamus Coleman hit a second half winner, though Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier will be disappointed to have been beaten on his near post.
Everton offered the greater threat in the first half at Goodison Park. James Tarkowski proved to be a goal threat for the third game in a row. The former Burnley defender had scored the winner against Arsenal and hit the woodwork against Liverpool. This time out he saw a towering header pushed away by Meslier.
Neal Maupay and Vitaliy Mykolenko both had second half chances before Coleman’s effort sealed the win which gives Everton real hope of survival.
Leeds failed to register a shot on target and drop to 19th, without a win under interim boss Michael Skubala. Everton climb up to 16th.
Vital wins for Liverpool, Spurs, Fulham and Saints
Liverpool won their second game in succession to complete a league double over Newcastle United, the only league defeats suffered by the Magpies all season. Manchester United enjoyed an emphatic victory over Leicester City to give them breathing space in third. Tottenham beat West Ham United to climb above Newcastle into fourth, having played a game more than the Geordies. Fulham won at fellow European contenders Brighton, while Chelsea’s problems continued with defeat at Southampton. The three points put the Saints three points from safety, although they still remain bottom of the table. Bournemouth won at Wolves, while Brentford and Crystal Palace drew.
The Premier League resumes on Friday February 24th with Matchweek 25. Only eight fixtures will be completed due to the EFL Cup final between Manchester United and Newcastle United.
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