IMAGES from the English Premier League matches played on Saturday.
Arsenal go seven points clear with 4-2 win over Brighton
Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah grabbed early goals in each half for Arsenal as they won 4-2 away to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday in the final Premier League game of 2022 to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Arsenal top the standings on 43 points with second-placed Manchester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton earlier in the day, on 36 and Newcastle United, who drew 0-0 with Leeds, two points further back in third.
Saka scored just over a minute into the game as Gabriel Martinelli's shot was deflected into his path, and he cushioned the ball with his first touch before deftly guiding it home with his second.
Leandro Trossard had a couple of decent chances for the home side before Martin Odegaard added Arsenal's second in the 39th minute, pouncing on a loose clearance and driving a shot that bounced up and into the net.
The league leaders looked to have wrapped up the victory just after the break as keeper Robert Sanchez spilled another Martinelli shot into the path of striker Nketiah, and he bundled the ball home from close range.
However, a Kaoru Mitoma goal in the 65th minute threw Brighton a lifeline and though Gabriel Martinelli netted a fourth for Arsenal from a stunning Odegaard pass, Evan Ferguson made it 4-2 to set up a grandstand finish.
Mitoma thought he had made it 4-3 in the 89th minute but the goal was chalked off after a VAR review found that he had come from an offside position, as the Gunners held on to close out the year with a win.
In-form Marcus Rashford stepped off the bench to earn Manchester United a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, a win that moved Erik ten Hag's side into the Premier League top four.
Ten Hag left the club's top goal-scorer on the bench from the start due to an "internal disciplinary issue", and saw his team struggle to break down Wolves in the opening period, youngster Alejandro Garnacho wasting the visitors' best chance.
Rashford came on for the second half to give United more cutting edge in attack, showing great strength and composure to hold off his marker and fire the winner 14 minutes from time.
The England forward had another ruled out for handball late on, but it mattered little as United saw out their third league win in a row to move above Tottenham Hotspur, who play Aston Villa on New Year's Day, and into fourth. Wolves stay 18th.
Fresh from their biggest league win of the season last time out -- a 3-0 success over Nottingham Forest – United did not make the most of their first-half opportunities at Molineux.
Casemiro's header was deflected over early on, before Garnacho was denied by a superb save from home goalkeeper Jose Sa after Nelson Semedo's defensive error.
French forward Anthony Martial should have done better from a close-range header late in the half, but failed to make a clean connection.
Ruben Neves finally tested David de Gea in the United goal early in the second half, with his free-kick brilliantly kept out by the Spaniard, before the visitors resumed their control of the contest.
More chances came and went before Rashford fired his 10th goal of the season in all competitions after holding off Wolves' substitute Jonny and lashing the ball home from close range.
De Gea was called into action to deny Wolves a point in coach Julen Lopetegui's first home league game in charge, but United continued their improvement under Ten Hag with another victory.
Man City fall behind in title race after Everton draw
Manchester City slipped off the pace in their bid to catch up with Premier League leaders Arsenal as they were held to a 1-1 draw by strugglers Everton in their final match of the year on Saturday.
Erling Haaland made a positive start for Pep Guardiola's men when he latched on to Riyad Mahrez's pass to tap home his 21st league goal of the season.
After a number of stoppages early in the second half, with one taking over six minutes as the assistant referee's communications headset was repaired, Demarai Gray levelled for the visitors.
The Everton winger surged up the left-hand flank in a rare counter-attack before cutting inside and unleashing a curling effort from the edge of the box which left City goalkeeper Ederson beaten.
The result left second-placed City four points behind Arsenal having played a game more, while Everton are 16th with 15 points. They are two points above the relegation zone.
Guadiola's side came into the match as the league's highest-scoring side but they were often left frustrated on Saturday by their opponents.
Haaland came close to scoring when he latched on to a well-timed Kevin De Bruyne ball inside the Everton box only to direct his effort into the side netting.
John Stones then came close to doubling City's advantage near the end of the half as his header rattled the post of Jordan Pickford's goal.
"To be 1-0 down at halftime, it's easy to let that get to you but we knew we would get a chance," Everton defender Ben Godfrey told Sky Sports.
Everton made the most of that chance with Gray equalling as City struggled to regain their momentum after the stop-start opening to the second half.
The hosts battled back in an attempt to clinch the three points but Everton's resolute defending, especially during the 11 minutes of added time, kept them at bay.
"I think we showed our character today. We've always had a team spirit. That's the standard. Work rate and togetherness. It feels good to get a point," added Godfrey.
Set pieces give Crystal Palace away win at Bournemouth
Crystal Palace scored twice from set pieces in the first half to beat Bournemouth 2-0 away in the Premier League on Saturday, banishing their Boxing Day blues and finishing the year on a high.
Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze both converted from corners at a rain-soaked Vitality Stadium as Palace put aside criticism from manager Patrick Vieira after Monday’s 3-0 loss to Fulham and posted a third win in their last five league fixtures.
Ayew had Palace ahead after 19 minutes as he rose unchallenged to glance his header wide of goalkeeper Mark Travers with Bournemouth guilty of ball watching as the corner came across.
It was the first goal of the season for the Ghana international as Palace created eight chances to none for Bournemouth in the opening 20 minutes.
Eze’s effort in the 36th minute was just as simple as a corner was cut back to him on the edge of the penalty area and, with no defender anywhere near him, he hammered the ball home to double the visitors’ lead.
The result kept Palace in 11th spot as they advanced to 22 points while Bournemouth slipped a place to 15th.
It was a third defeat for Bournemouth since returning from the World Cup break, during which time they appointed caretaker coach Gary O’Neil on a permanent basis and completed the sale of the club to a consortium called Black Knight Football Club, led by American businessman Bill Foley and actor Michael B Jordan.
Both were given a warm welcome by supporters before kick-off but will have quickly realised they need to spend to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window or prepare for a battle against relegation in the coming months.
O’Neil was on the bench despite having struggled with illness on the eve of the match after a virus swept through the Bournemouth camp this week.
But if he was still feeling grim, his players would have exacerbated his condition as they turned in a lethargic first half performance.
It was better after the break for the home side but they only threatened to score when Dominic Solanke forced a sharp save from Palace's goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in the 53rd minute.
Palace could have extended the scoreline in the final 15 minutes with chances for both Wilfried Zaha and substitute Odsonne Edouard.
Newcastle winning run comes to an end with Leeds draw
Newcastle United missed the chance to close the gap to leaders Arsenal at the top of the Premier League after they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Leeds United on Saturday.
Looking for their seventh successive league win against Leeds, Newcastle struggled to create clear openings in the first half, New Zealand striker Chris Wood going closest for the hosts.
Wood was again presented with a golden chance early in the second half, but was thwarted by a fine save from Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, before Sean Longstaff fired over when put through on goal.
Chances continued to come and go for Newcastle, but they were unable to find a late winner despite creating plenty of pressure, leaving the hosts provisionally third in the standings, two points ahead of Manchester United in fourth. Leeds move up to 14th with the draw.
Southampton stay rock bottom after defeat by Fulham
Southampton will end the year rock bottom of the Premier League and facing a fight for survival after conceding a late goal to slide to a 2-1 defeat by Fulham on Saturday.
New manager Nathan Jones looked set to earn his first point in charge until Joao Palhinha's powerful strike restored Fulham's lead in the 88th minute.
Aleksandar Mitrovic then had a stoppage-time penalty saved by Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu but the damage was done as Saints suffered a fifth successive league defeat.
Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse's superb free kick in the 56th minute looked like securing a draw which would have lifted his side off the foot of the table.
It made amends after he had scored at the wrong end in the 32nd minute by deflecting Joao Palhinha's effort into his own goal, but it was to prove in vain.
Southampton have 12 points from 17 games while Fulham moved into the top seven with 25 points.