Arsenal eye top-four finish as victory sends Leeds into relegation zone

Everton move towards safety following gritty win at Leicester on Sunday

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Arsenal took another step towards securing a top-four spot after battling to a 2-1 win over Leeds United on Sunday, a result which sent their opponents into the relegation zone.

Arsenal remained fourth and moved four points clear of north London rivals Tottenham in race for Champions League ahead of Thursday's derby, while Leeds slipped to 18th place following Everton's 2-1 victory at Leicester City.

Former Leeds loanee Eddie Nketiah put Arsenal ahead after five minutes when visiting goalkeeper Illan Meslier dwelled on a routine back pass, allowing the forward to nip in and score from inside the six-yard box.

Five minutes later, winger Gabriel Martinelli wriggled past three Leeds defenders and played a neat cut-back to the unmarked Nketiah as the 22-year-old tapped in and put Mikel Arteta's side in control of the contest.

Arsenal were hunting for a third, with Meslier saving efforts from Martinelli and Martin Odegaard, before Leeds were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half when Luke Ayling was sent off for a reckless two-footed challenge on Martinelli.

Leeds defender Diego Llorente volleyed home a corner after 66 minutes with their shot on goal of the game to give Jesse Marsch's side hope but Arsenal weathered a nervy finish to close out the victory.

Arteta signed a three-year contract extension on Friday and he is on course to repay that faith by leading Arsenal to their first Champions League campaign since 2016-17. Arteta, who won the FA Cup during his first year in charge at the Emirates, has steered the Gunners back towards the top of the table after their worst start to a season for decades.

West Ham United's Said Benrahma celebrates scoring the third goal on Sunday. Reuters

Meanwhile, West Ham were back in contention for the Premier League top six after a thumping 4-0 win at Norwich.

The Hammers arrived at Carrow Road still hurting from their painful Europa League semi-final defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

But Norwich, condemned to relegation by defeat at Aston Villa last weekend, proved to be easy pickings with goalkeeper Tim Krul having a nightmare.

Manchester United's 4-0 defeat at Brighton has left the door open for West Ham to snatch sixth place and qualify for the Europa League again next season.

Thanks to the win over Norwich they are now three points behind United, with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.

Said Benrahma put the Hammers ahead in the 12th minute with a deflected volley and bagged his second in first-half stoppage time.

Michail Antonio had made it 2-0 on the half-hour with his first league goal since January 1. Manuel Lanzini made it 4-0 from the penalty spot in the 65th after another VAR review found Danish midfielder Jacob Soerensen had handled.

Everton climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Leicester City after defenders Vitalii Mykolenko and Mason Holgate scored at the King Power Stadium.

Frank Lampard's side moved up two spots to 16th on 35 points, one point above the drop zone.

Holgate nodded in a rebound to put Everton back in front at the half-hour mark after Leicester striker Patson Daka cancelled out Mykolenko's stunning early opener.

Holgate scored from close range after Richarlison's header was beaten away by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel following a corner.

Everton fought hard in the second half to keep their lead intact, with keeper Jordan Pickford making three stunning saves as he tipped away Nampalys Mendy's curling effort and denied substitute Harvey Barnes twice.

Updated: May 08, 2022, 4:18 PM