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EPL: Foden treble lifts City but Arsenal go top

April 04, 2024 09:34 IST
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Arsenal reclaim top spot with comfortable win over Luton


IMAGE: Arsenal's Reiss Nelson with teammates celebrate after Luton Town's Daiki Hashioka scores an own goal and Arsenal's second. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Luton Town on Wednesday despite fielding a much-changed side.

Captain Martin Odegaard opened the scoring after 24 minutes and an own goal by Daiki Hashioka after good work by Emile Smith Rowe put the hosts firmly in control on the stroke of halftime.

Mikel Arteta's side moved into first place with 68 points from 30 games although Liverpool, who have 67, can move back to the summit with a home game against Sheffield United on Thursday.

Manchester City also have 67 points from 30 games after a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday.


Arteta opted to shuffle his pack with Declan Rice on the bench and Bukayo Saka not involved while Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Thomas Partey were all given starts. But his side showed their strength in depth to cruise to victory.

"Very happy. It was a really difficult game and credit to Luton, they are a very good side and make it difficult for us," Arteta told TNT Sports.

"We scored two good goals in the first half, in the second half we didn't get the right rhythm. I am happy with the boys who came in, they made a difference. Now we have a bigger squad with nearly everyone fit."

Luton, missing several key players, had their moments but remained third bottom with 22 points from 31 games, three behind 17th-placed Nottingham Forest.

Arsenal's 0-0 stalemate at champions Manchester City last weekend proved they have the resilience to go the distance in a three-way title fight.

And they returned to winning ways in business-like fashion against a Luton side perhaps with one eye on a more winnable game at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Smith Rowe repaid Arteta's faith in full as he was heavily involved in both goals.

He seized possession as Luton tried to play out from the back and played the ball to Odegaard who found Kai Havertz before taking a return pass and firing a shot past keeper Thomas Kaminski.

Luton enjoyed their best spell after falling behind and looked a threat on the break. But when Smith Rowe wriggled his way to the byline in added time at the end of the first half and his cutback went in off Hashioka the game was as good as over.

"I was really impressed with Smith Rowe," Arteta said. "He has been training really well."

Arsenal cantered through the second half, saving energy for the more testing weekend trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Foden hat-trick keeps Man City in thick of title race

Manchester City

IMAGE: Manchester City's Phil Foden scores their fourth goal and completes his hat-trick. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Phil Foden scored a stunning hat-track as Manchester City crushed Aston Villa 4-1 on Wednesday to keep their hopes of retaining the Premier League title very much alive.

Arsenal climbed above Liverpool to claim top spot on 68 points with a 2-0 victory over Luton Town and City are third, level on 67 points with Liverpool who can move back to the summit with a home win over Sheffield United on Thursday.

"Obviously, I'm just loving my football at the moment," Foden told TNT Sports. "I'm just playing with a smile on my face and trying to help the team because I know I'm capable of scoring goals. And I think today I showed that. So I'm delighted."

City's victory was their first over a top-five team in the league this season.

"Something we've been struggling with this season to face the teams at the top - beating Aston Villa 4-1 is not easy but we did it," Rodri told TNT Sports.

"We're there, we knew we had to do our homework. We did it and now we focus on the next game."

City monopolised possession from kickoff and took the lead in the 11th minute when Rodri poked in Jeremy Doku's cross.

Villa silenced the home crowd, however, when 20-year-old Jhon Duran slotted into the far corner after a neat one-two with Morgan Rogers in the 20th minute.

With City's league-leading scorer Erling Haaland an unused substitute, however, Foden went to work, finding a gap in Villa's wall with a superb free kick just before halftime.

Rodri dribbled through Villa's defence before laying the ball off for Foden to claim his second in the 62nd minute and the 23-year-old completed his hat-trick with a rocket into the top corner from 25 yards.

"This player has grown every single year I've been here," Rodri said. "He can score wherever. I'm so happy for him."

It was Foden's 21st goal this season for City across all competitions and the England international left the field to a standing ovation when he was substituted.

Unai Emery's team remained fourth in the table on 59 points and still in contention for a Champions League place, although they have played one more game than fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur who are on 57.

Villa beat City 1-0 at Villa Park on in December, but have not won at the Etihad since 2007 and the score could have been more lop-sided as City had 67.4% possession and 11 shots on target to the visitors' three.

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