EPL PIX: Arsenal held, Villa win, Leeds, Wolves lose

A round-up of Sunday’s action in the Premier League.

Arsenal squander the lead to split points with Southampton

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta rued his players’ inability to capitalise on their early dominance after they were held to a 1-1 Premier League draw with Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday, a rare stalemate for the north London side.

Arsenal were the better team in the opening stages and might have had more than Granit Xhaka’s strike to show for it, but they allowed Southampton back into the contest in the second period and had to hang on at the end for a point.

It was, remarkably, Arsenal’s first draw in the Premier League since January, a run of 27 matches in which they were either the victor or the loser, but still leaves them two points ahead of second-placed Manchester City after 11 games in this campaign.

“We had three or four good opportunities and should have scored more. We needed two or three goals but only scored one. It’s disappointing. We created enough chances but couldn’t put the ball away,” Arteta told BBC Match of the Day.

Arsenal’s inability to kill off the contest will be a frustration as that has been a hallmark of their recent form. They had won their previous 18 Premier League matches in which they scored first.

“It’s a lesson because we wanted to win again. They put us under more pressure through direct play in the second half, and we were struggling,” Arteta said.

Xhaka’s goal was his second this week after he also netted in the 1-0 Europa League win over PSV Eindhoven on Thursday, and his manager believes his form has been key for them this season.

“He’s really efficient, really consistent and really impressive,” Arteta said.

 Leeds flounder at home against Fulham

Leeds United sank to a 3-2 defeat at home to Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday, leaving them in the relegation zone and heaping more pressure on coach Jesse Marsch.

Leeds, who are without a league win since August, are 18th in the standings on nine points after a fourth consecutive defeat. Fulham meanwhile climbed to seventh on 18.

The home side took the lead in the 20th minute when Aaronson’s shot bounced off a Fulham defender and fizzed into the air and towards goal, where Rodrigo nodded the ball into the net, scoring his fifth goal of the season but his first since Aug 21.

Four minutes later, Leeds then handed Fulham a way back into the game when slack marking from a corner allowed Mitrovic a free header and Illan Meslier feebly allowed the ball to squirm past him resulting in Aleksandar’s ninth goal of the season.

Pereira then wasted a glorious chance to give the visitors the lead before halftime while Joao Palhinha and Mitrovic missed the target after the break.

Leeds had the bulk of the chances in an entertaining second period as both sides went in search of a winner, with Luke Ayling, Rodrigo, Brenden Aaronson and substitute Patrick Bamford all squandering promising opportunities.

Fulham also wasted two clear efforts but took the lead in the 74th minute when full-back Bobby Decordova-Reid headed in another cross from Pereira.

The goal led to Leeds fans quickly turning on American coach Marsch, some chanting “You’re getting sacked in the morning”. The anger in the stadium rose further when Willian struck Fulham’s third goal in the 83rd after the visitors had run the hosts’ defence ragged.

Substitute Crysencio Summerville gave Leeds hope of a fightback when he slid to poke the ball home in added time, but it was too little, too late for Marsch’s side.

“It’s a hard one to take. We did well in the first 30 minutes but we were sloppy from set-pieces, with all three goals coming from them. That just can’t happen,” said Leeds defender Ayling.

However, he insisted the players were firmly behind Marsch, who succeeded Marcelo Bielsa last February, adding: “He took over in a tricky situation last season and kept us in the league,”

It was Fulham’s fifth win of the season from 12 matches, as many victories as they managed in the whole of their previous top-flight campaign.

“I think we deserved to win. We created so many chances to win this game and we all showed our quality,” said Willian.

 Leicester maul Wolves to move out of the relegation zone

 

Leicester City thrashed Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 in the Premier League on Sunday for their first points away from home this season. They also move off the bottom of the standings and out of the relegation zone.

Back-to-back league wins moved a clinical Leicester, who had lost all their away games up to 16th while struggling Wolves fell to a fifth defeat in six games dropping to 19th as the home fans booed Steve Davis’ side at the final whistle.

“It is our first away win and it is extra special. Psychologically it (moving out of the relegation zone) is a boost. We did the basics really well and scored early. We knew they were going to come at us and there would be space. We executed that really well,” Leicester skipper and goal scorer Youri Tielemans said.

Wolves started brightly but it was Leicester who drew first blood when a clearance fell to Tielemans and the midfielder fired a volley from more than 20 yards out that arrowed into the top corner.

A buoyant Leicester side then cut open the Wolves’ defence 11 minutes later as Harvey Barnes played a one-two pass with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall before firing a shot from an angle past goalkeeper Jose Sa to double the lead.

Wolves nearly halved the lead towards the end of the half but keeper Danny Ward pulled off a spectacular save to deny Daniel Podence’s lashing strike before safely catching Diego Costa’s follow-up header.

Leicester’s top scorer James Maddison put the game to bed in the second half when he made room for himself at the edge of the box before whipping in a low shot past Sa for his sixth goal of the season, leaving Wolves deflated.

Brendan Rodgers’ side completed the rout when they won the ball back from a sloppy Wolves side, with Timothy Castagne’s uncontested cross turned in by Jamie Vardy as the 35-year-old striker scored their fourth goal and his first of the season.

“Collectively, we were very, very good. We carried a threat, and defensively we were excellent. Our pressing has been very good and all the goals were fantastic. Confidence will grow and we’ll get better. The concentration is better, everybody is focused, pressing at the right time and forcing teams into mistakes. Then we know we have the quality in the final third,” Rodgers told the BBC.

Aston Villa blank Brentford 4-0

Danny Ings scored twice in the opening 14 minutes as Aston Villa bounced back from the sacking of manager Steven Gerrard with a 4-0 Premier League win over Brentford at a jubilant Villa Park on Sunday.

Villa, who fired Gerrard after Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Fulham left them 17th in the table, took the lead just over a minute into the game when Leon Bailey hammered home a first-time shot from a well-worked corner.

Bailey turned provider a few minutes later, sliding the ball into the path of the unmarked Ings for him to rifle it into the net, much to the delight of caretaker boss Aaron Danks.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Norwegian defender Kristoffer Ajer pulled the shirt of Tyrone Mings to concede a penalty in the 12th minute, and Ings slammed the spot kick straight down the middle to make it 3-0.

Villa’s Douglas Luiz went close with a shot from outside the box on the half-hour mark, but his effort whistled just past the left-hand post as Brentford struggled to get a grip on the game.

Only a string of brilliant saves from goalkeeper David Raya prevented Brentford from going further behind as he swatted away an Ollie Watkins shot from point-blank range and then thwarted the same player again when he shot from distance.

Watkins persisted and got the fourth goal in the 59th minute, burying the ball in the back of the net via the foot of defender Ethan Pinnock to complete the rout.

Bryan Mbeumo summed up Brentford’s frustrating afternoon when he wasted a glorious chance to reduce the deficit two minutes later, firing wide with the goal at his mercy before being replaced by Mikkel Damsgaard.

Villa’s third win in 12 league games lifts them to the 14th spot on the table with 12 points, while Brentford, who held Chelsea to a scoreless draw midweek, are 10th on 14 points.

“We owed the fans that performance and result. It was a good reaction from the boys, you always see a reaction from a team when something happens like it has this week with the gaffer (Gerrard) leaving,” Ings said.

“For what we have in the dressing room, it was quite simply not good enough and hasn’t been for a long period of time,” he added.

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