After coming from behind to defeat West Ham 3-1 on Monday at the Emirates, Arsenal increased their lead over the competition’s leaders to seven points.
In just five minutes of the second half, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli altered the tide of the match, and Eddie Nketiah, who was filling in for Gabriel Jesus, sealed the three points.
The Hammers took the lead thanks to a penalty from Said Benrahma in the first half, but David Moyes’ team is still only 16th, one point above the relegation zone.
A six-week delay for the World Cup might have prevented Arsenal from winning its first league championship since 2004.
In spite of the absence of his stars in Qatar, Mikel Arteta began William Saliba barely eight days after he was a member of the French team that lost the World Cup final to Argentina on penalties.
When Saliba waited to let Michail Antonio grasp onto a ball over the top and then dove in on Jarrod Bowen, that choice backfired.
Bowen didn’t instantly go to the ground, but referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot, and Benrahma calmly converted the penalty.
In the last seconds of the first half, Arsenal felt they had a penalty of their own, but Oliver changed his mind after watching a tape and realizing that Martin Odegaard’s shot really hit Aaron Cresswell in the head rather than the left back’s arm.
Eight minutes after the break, Odegaard’s mishit shot fell perfectly into Saka’s path, giving the Gunners the opportunity to turn the tide. Saka then sidefooted the ball home.
With the assistance of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who was far too easily beaten at his near post, Martinelli added the second goal a short while later.
Jesus’ protracted injury absence had thrown doubt on Arsenal’s ability to continue their title campaign in the upcoming months, especially with games against Manchester United, Newcastle, and Tottenham scheduled just in January.
But 21 minutes from time, Nketiah seized his chance in his first Premier League start of the year with a beautiful twist and low finish into the far corner after a feed from Odegaard.
By winning against Leeds on Wednesday night, Manchester City can close the lead at the top to five points and retake second place from Newcastle.
The reigning champions still have a struggle on their hands if they want to win the championship again in the second half of the season, as evidenced by another display of tenacity from Arsenal.
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