Premier League: Gabriel Martinelli keeps table-toppers Arsenal out in front with win at Leicester

Arsenal’s Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli scored a fine goal to earn a 1-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday, giving them a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

January signing Leandro Trossard arrowed a stunning strike into the net midway through the first half, but the Belgian was denied his second goal for Arsenal after VAR ruled Ben White to have fouled goalkeeper Danny Ward in the build up.

It took the dominant visitors until the first minute of the second half to break the deadlock as Martinelli raced onto a Trossard pass and stroked home what proved to be the winner.

The hosts did not look like getting back into the contest, with Arsenal seeing out the win that stretches their lead over Manchester City, who play at Bournemouth later on Saturday. Leicester stay 14th, three points clear of the relegation zone.

With the title race twisting and turning each week, Arsenal travelled north to Leicester fully anticipating a tough match against a side who thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 in their previous home match.

The hosts, without the influential James Maddison in midfield due to illness, never really got going, however, and failed to muster a shot on target in the match.

The visitors did not have to overly exert themselves to get the job done. Trossard was unlucky in the first half — he will not hit many better strikes all season.

Martinelli’s finish was equally impressive on the run. No Arsenal player has more league goals than the Brazilian this season.

The result could have been more comfortable, with Arsenal having the ball in the net again only for it to be ruled out for offside, but they had no trouble seeing out the victory to keep them on course for a first league title in 19 years.

Arsenal have now won 10 of their 13 away league games this season, one more than in the whole of last term. It is the fastest they have reached 10 away wins in any league campaign.

Meanwhile, New Leeds United manager Javi Gracia’s reign began with a 1-0 Premier League home victory over bottom club Southampton as Junior Firpo’s goal helped the Yorkshire club to snap a 10-game winless run and move out of the relegation zone on Saturday.

Leeds jumped to 17th on 22 points after 24 games, a point above the drop zone, following a first league win since before the World Cup break.

The hosts dominated possession in Gracia’s first game since his appointment this week and edged a scrappy first half in which neither side created much of note.

Firpo finally broke the deadlock in front of a raucous Elland Road in the 77th minute, squeezing a tame effort under Gavin Bazunu after being cleverly set up with a flick by Jack Harrison.

Southampton piled on the pressure as they desperately searched for an equaliser, and dead-ball specialist James Ward-Prowse nearly created one as he whipped in a corner in 90th minute, but he was let down by a poor header from team mate Armel Bella-Kotchap.

Southampton, who will have thought their luck was turning after taking three points at Chelsea last week, remain 20th — three points behind second-from-bottom Bournemouth, who host Manchester City later on Saturday.

While Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins scored a penalty and Emiliano Buendia added a second goal as they beat Everton 2-0 in a frenetic Premier League encounter at Goodison Park on Saturday to leave the home side in the bottom three.

Despite dominating the game for long spells, Everton could not fashion a goal and are now 18th in the table on 21 points, above Bournemouth on goal difference, while Villa are 11th on 31 points.

The best chance of a high-energy first half fell to Everton, with Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez forced into a superb reflex save to deny Amadu Onana’s header in the 34th minute.

With Villa pinned back in their own half and struggling to pass the ball out from the back, Everton went even closer in the 54th minute as Tyrone Mings was forced to clear the ball off the line after a goal-mouth scramble.

Villa made a rare foray forward in the 59th minute and Watkins went close with a header but Jordan Pickford showed why Everton awarded him a new four-and-a-half-year contract this week by pulling off a superb save.

There was little he could do two minutes later when Villa were awarded a penalty in the 61st minute after John McGinn was upended in the box by Idrissa Gueye and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.
Watkins stepped up and smashed the spot kick down the middle and past Pickford to give his side a lead that was scarcely deserved.

Everton substitute Ellis Simms hooked a volley over the bar in the 77th minute but things went from bad to worse for the home side when they were punished by Buendia for committing too many players forward.

McGinn broke through the middle and angled a pass to Buendia who lashed a shot inside the near post in the 81st minute to double Villa’s advantage.

That took the wind out of the sails of the Toffees and Villa were able to contain them as they held on to secure all three points.

Watkins set a club record for Aston Villa by scoring for the fifth Premier League game in a row, and he was delighted with how his side weathered the storm and set him up to succeed from the spot.

“It’s always nice to score goals. I’m feeling really confident in front of goal, the boys and the coach fill me with confidence,” Watkins told BBC Sport.

“They put the ball in the position for me to finish. I have to do the easy part which is finish. Long may it continue.”

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