Arsenal ease pressure on Arteta, Leeds smash five past West Brom
December 29 2020 11:55 PM
Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette (centre) celebrates with Bukayo Saka (left) after scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League in Brighton, southern England, yesterday. (AFP)


Arsenal further eased the pressure on manager Mikel Arteta with a 1-0 win at Brighton yesterday, but the continuation of the Premier League in the coming weeks was cast into doubt after a record 18 positive tests for coronavirus among players and staff earlier in the day.
After Manchester City’s trip to Everton on Monday was postponed due to a Covid outbreak in Pep Guardiola’s squad, all five matches scheduled yesterday went ahead despite disruption for Sheffield United and Southampton.
Bottom-of-the-table United revealed they had suffered a number of positive Covid-19 cases but were still able to field a squad of 18 for their 1-0 defeat at Burnley. Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl coached his side from his home for a 0-0 draw against West Ham after a member of his household tested positive.
On the field, Arsenal eased fears they could be dragged into a relegation battle with a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday and can now look up the table with hope thanks to consecutive league wins for the first time since the opening two games of the season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned from injury in the place of Alexandre Lacazette in the only change made by Arteta. But Lacazette came off the bench to make an instant impact and win the game with a fine near-post finish from Bukayo Saka’s pass just 26 seconds after coming on Victory moves the Gunners up to 13th, within seven points of the top four.
Arteta said: “We know we’ve been struggling with results. The fact we won against Chelsea was a big boost. To come here and get another win was massively important. I’m proud for the boys and happy for the result. [Alexandre] Lacazette is in a good moment. He’s full of confidence. We wanted to change the team in the second half and give it some freshness. We weren’t threatening in certain areas. In the second half we looked much more confident and we were playing more forward. The best medicine is wins. It’s a different world and a different story. The picture looks much better.”
West Brom are next up for Arsenal at the weekend and the Baggies confidence after a shock 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Sunday quickly evaporated in a 5-0 hammering by Leeds. A miserable night for West Brom started with a self-inflicted wound as Romain Sawyers scored a remarkable own goal as his backpass sailed past Sam Johnstone.
Ezgjan Alioski smashed a strike in off the post before Jack Harrison slotted home the third after a neat one-two with Patrick Bamford. Rodrigo’s deflected strike made it 4-0 before half-time and Raphinha’s powerful strike into the top corner inflicted Sam Allardyce’s heaviest ever home defeat in the Premier League.
Leeds goalscorer Jack Harrison said: “We took control of the game and we capitalise on any chances that we had. With Marcelo [Bielsa], he wants us to be aggressive and when we do that, we can create problems for the defenders. Once we created that danger, we were able to build off of that and it was a good starting point for us.”
Sheffield United are the only side below West Brom in the table and their chances of survival are diminishing rapidly with just two points from their opening 16 games. Ben Mee scored the only goal at Turf Moor as Burnley moved five points clear of the relegation zone and above Brighton into 16th. Southampton missed the chance to move into the top four as they failed to score for the third consecutive game in a 0-0 draw with West Ham.
Danny Ings had an early goal ruled out for offside against Che Adams and despite the Saints’ dominance they were nearly hit by a sucker punch late on when Alex McCarthy had to spread himself to block Said Benrahma’s shot from point-blank range.
Southampton remain ninth with West Ham three points further back in 10th. Manchester United can move up to second and within two points of leaders Liverpool as they were hosting Wolves late last night at Old Trafford.
Premier League results
Brighton 0 Arsenal 1 (Lacazette 66); Burnley 1 (Mee 32) Sheffield United 0; Southampton 0 West Ham 0; West Brom 0 Leeds 5 (Sawyers 9-og, Alioski 31, 
Harrison 36, Rodrigo 40, Raphinha 72); 
Playing today: Tottenham v Fulham (1800), Newcastle v Liverpool (2000)
Played Monday: Crystal Palace 1 (Zaha 58) Leicester 1 (Barnes 83); Chelsea (Giroud 34) Aston Villa 1 (El Ghazi 50)
Everton v Manchester City — match postponed due to coronavirus 

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