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  • By Charlie Stong at Emirates Stadium

Gunners move eight points clear at the top after 4-1 demolition of Crystal Palace


Arsenal 4 (Martinelli 28, Saka 43, 74, Xhaka 55)

Crystal Palace 1 (Schlupp 63)


Arsenal moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with a convincing 4-1 win over Crystal Palace at the Emirates.


Goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka put the Gunners seemingly in cruise control.


And although Jeffrey Schlupp pulled one back for the visitors, Saka’s second ensured Arsenal go into the international break with a healthy lead at the top – albeit with Manchester City having played one game fewer.


Arsenal controlled most of the early possession but it was Palace who had the first good chance, Wilfried Zaha cutting inside on to his right foot and drawing a fine save from Aaron Ramsdale, who tipped the ball on to the post before seeing it cannon back off his back and out for a corner.


At the other end Martin Odegaard’s shot from outside the box was too close to Joe Whitworth to trouble the goalkeeper.


And just as it seemed a few nerves were beginning to set in at the Emirates, Martinelli gave the Gunners the lead.


Saka’s ball across the box was collected by the Brazilian, who took the ball wide of Joel Ward and smashed it back across the goal and past Whitworth for the opener.


Palace were defending tightly and Arsenal were having to play intricate passes to create chances.


Odegaard could have doubled the Gunners’ lead five minutes before half-time but his shot was just wide of the right-hand post.


But the home side did double their lead two minutes later thanks to Saka, who escaped the close attention of Zaha and placed his shot beyond Whitworth.


Immediately it could have been three – the impressive Leandro Trossard seeing a shot deflected wide for a corner. Thomas Partey then had Whitworth scrambling across his goal after a long-range shot.


Zaha stung the palms of Ramsdale early in the second half, forcing the goalkeeper to push his shot up and away for a corner.


But it was 3-0 on 55 minutes. A lovely pass from Trossard found Granit Xhaka and his shot under pressure from Ward found its way into the net, with the Gunners fans taunting their Palace rivals with shouts of support for former hero, and sacked Eagles boss, Patrick Vieira.


Palace pulled one back on 62 minutes, Jeffrey Schlupp prodding home after a scramble in the box following a corner.


And they so nearly had a second on 72 minutes when Zaha shot wide when played clean through by Schlupp.


But within two minutes of that the game was safe for Arsenal, Saka sweeping home substitute Kieran Tierney’s centre for 4-1.


City’s next game is against an improving Liverpool side, while the Gunners are at home to Leeds – if the gap gets any wider than eight, they really will be dreaming here. Twenty-eight down, 10 to go.


Teams:

Arsenal: Ramsdale, White (Jorginho 82), Partey, Gabriel (Kiwior 86), Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli (Smith Rowe 82), Holding, Trossard (Jesus, 65), Xhaka, Zinchenko (Tierney, 65)

Crystal Palace: Whitworth, Ward, Mitchell, Milivojevic (Hughes 65), Guehi, Olise (Eze 82), Zaha, Schlupp (Ahamada, 82), Andersen, Edouard (Ayew 65), Doucoure

Referee: Stuart Attwell


Picture: Charlie Stong

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