Arsenal close gap to top four win win away to Huddersfield

Premier League round-up: Palace rescue a point against West Ham while Everton lose again

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League win over Huddersfield. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League win over Huddersfield. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

 

Huddersfield Town 1 Arsenal 2

Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette scored first-half goals as Arsenal got their top-four hopes back on track with a 2-1 win at Huddersfield.

Iwobi opened the scoring with a deflected volley in the first period and Lacazette stroked home his 12th goal of the season shortly before half-time.

Sead Kolasinac’s own goal in stoppage time raised a huge cheer from the Huddersfield faithful, but it was too little too late.

The Gunners secured their first Premier League away win since November as they moved level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea.

Huddersfield have lost their last seven home league games and 12 of their last 13 in total to stay rooted to the bottom of the table, but there is little sense of despair at the John Smith’s Stadium.

And owner/chairman Dean Hoyle, back at the ground on matchday for the first time since recovering from pancreatitis, will have taken heart from another committed display from his side.

Kongolo’s last-ditch tackle thwarted Iwobi in the opening exchanges and the Arsenal forward fired into the side-netting soon after.

But it did not take long for Arsenal to take the lead with their next meaningful attack.

Kolasinac picked out Iwobi in the penalty area with a deep cross from the left and the latter’s first-time volley deflected off Terence Kongolo, wrong-footed goalkeeper Ben Hamer and gave the visitors a 16th-minute lead.

Huddersfield began the game with one of the lowest points totals after 25 matches in Premier League history, but they remained typically spirited and for periods in the first half had Arsenal on the back foot.

Huddersfield’s struggles on the edge of their opponent’s penalty area continued though, and they were denied a penalty appeal when Jason Puncheon’s shot appeared to hit Laurent Koscielny’s arm, only for referee Jon Moss to wave play on.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, making his first appearance since mid-December after recovering from a broken bone in his foot, spurned a chance when shooting straight at Hamer following Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cut back.

But Arsenal struck their second just before half-time thanks to another Maitland-Niles assist as his low cross to the far post was tapped home by Lacazette.

Huddersfield produced their best moment at the start of the second half when Aaron Mooy and Kongolo combined to set up Adama Diakhaby, whose well-struck low effort was saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Arsenal threatened to add to their lead when substitute Mohamed Elneny headed wide, but Huddersfield responded through replacement Erik Durm’s cross, which was deflected on to the bar.

Owobi dragged a shot wide and was then denied by Hamer after being played in by Mkhitaryan, but the home side still caused problems and Nacho Monreal cleared after Diakhaby’s shot had been partially saved.

Town persisted and substitute Laurent Depoitre went close after a barging run before they scored their first league goal in five matches.

Diakhaby ran on to Mooy’s throughball and his shot rebounded off Kolasinac before crossing the goalline in the fourth minute of time added on.

Crystal Palace 1 West Ham United 1

Wilfried Zaha returned with a goal to secure a point for Crystal Palace from a 1-1 draw with West Ham.

The striker, back from suspension and able to face the Hammers after appealing against an additional ban, struck 14 minutes from time to rescue a share of the spoils.

Mark Noble had fired West Ham into a first-half lead from the penalty spot, but Palace were worth their point and would have equalised earlier but for an incredible miss by James McArthur.

Instead it was Zaha, sent off at Southampton last week for sarcastically clapping the referee, who milked the applause with his late leveller.

The Hammers had the better of the first half and early on Michail Antonio’s clever reverse pass fed the overlapping Ryan Fredericks, but his first-time shot was too close to Palace keeper Vicente Guaita.

Moments later Zaha found McArthur in the West Ham area only for Lukasz Fabianski to make a fine block.

West Ham took the a 27th-minute lead when Declan Rice lofted the ball into the box. Guaita came out and clattered into Antonio, leaving referee Craig Pawson with a simple decision.

The reliable Noble stepped up to take the spot-kick, sending Guaita the wrong way for his first goal of the season.

Wilfried Zaha celebrates after bagging a late equasliser for Palace. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images
Wilfried Zaha celebrates after bagging a late equasliser for Palace. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images

The Hammers captain’s 21st successful Premier League penalty was also his first since the home draw with Palace last season.

Palace almost forced an equaliser before half-time but Fabianski pulled off another fine save to deny Christian Benteke and Zaha blazed a good chance over the crossbar.

McArthur somehow missed a golden opportunity to level shortly after the interval when again he found himself clean through.

The midfielder bore down on goal and, with Fabianski on his backside, aimed to lift the ball over the keeper only to clip it wide from all of four yards out.

Patrick Van Aanholt fired narrowly over from long range before squaring for substitute Michy Batshuayi, who slid his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

But the equaliser arrived after 76 minutes when Zaha ran at the West Ham defence, collected a return ball from McArthur and saw his angled drive loop off the boot of Issa Diop and over Fabianski.

Zaha could even have won it for Palace late on but Fabianski beat away his curling shot as the Hammers, who had looked comfortable for the majority of the match, found themselves clinging on for a point .

Watford 1 Everton 0

Andre Gray piled the pressure on Everton manager Marco Silva after he scored the winner for Watford in Saturday’s grudge match at Vicarage Road.

Substitute Gray netted the only goal of the game after 65 minutes to condemn Everton to their third straight Premier League defeat.

Silva was back at Vicarage Road for the first time since he was sacked as Hornets manager amid suggestions he had attempted to engineer a move to Everton, and, in the build-up, the typically outspoken Troy Deeney did his best to stoke the fire.

Speaking at a fans’ forum, Deeney urged the Watford supporters not to be too harsh on his former manager. Instead, he said: “Leave him alone, let us kick the s*** out of them.”

Watford’s captain added: “The people at Everton are fantastic. Not the manager.”

He may have been more diplomatic in his programme notes, describing the hype surrounding his former manager’s return as a “pantomime”, but it was Deeney and his Watford team-mates who would enjoy the last laugh.

The predictable chorus of boos as Silva’s name was read out by the stadium PA announcer, and ensuing X-rated chants about the Portuguese, dominated the opening exchanges, yet the Toffees enjoyed the best of a scrappy first half.

Kurt Zouma provided home goalkeeper Ben Foster with his first test after 20 minutes, albeit with a tame header that was easily gobbled up by the former England man.

Foster was back in action 10 minutes before the interval when Cenk Tosun, one of three changes made by Silva from the team that lost against Manchester City, swivelled and unleashed a shot on the turn. Foster dived to his left, and averted the danger.

Watford have enjoyed a steady season under Javi Gracia, but the Spaniard would have been disappointed with their first-half showing. Their best chance of the opening period fell to Etienne Capoue. The midfielder held off Zouma, but blasted his half-volley from only a handful of yards out well over Jordan Pickford’s crossbar — more in keeping with the Six Nations than the Premier League.

Clearly unsettled by what he had seen, Gracia made a change at the interval, bringing off the ineffective Ken Sema and introducing Gray. Midway through the second half, his substitution had the desired effect.

Craig Cathcart was the surprise provider when his no-look pass found Will Hughes, whose fizzing cross landed at the feet of an unmarked Gray. The former Burnley man could make no mistake from underneath Pickford’s crossbar to score his first goal since September.

Watford fans celebrate as Everton manager Marco Silva looks on. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire
Watford fans celebrate as Everton manager Marco Silva looks on. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire

The delirious Watford fans unleashed their full repertoire of anti-Silva songs. “Silva, what’s the score?” they asked before chanting “you’re getting sacked in the morning”.

It would get even better for the home fans when Silva responded to Watford’s goal by hauling off Richarlison, the Brazilian who left Watford to join Silva for £35million last summer.

To their credit, Everton, whose miserable record since the start of December is better only than Huddersfield and Fulham, did not throw in the towel and Lucas Digne came close to equalising when his free-kick hit the bar. But on a miserable afternoon, Zouma was dismissed for a second yellow card in the final moments as Silva, who headed straight for the tunnel on the final whistle, now faces further scrutiny.

Southampton 1 Cardiff City 2

Cardiff secured a vital victory in their pursuit of Premier League safety by concluding a traumatic week with a 2-1 win at Southampton thanks to Kenneth Zohore’s dramatic stoppage-time finish.

Their struggle against relegation has been largely overshadowed by the confirmation of the death of their striker Emiliano Sala, whose body was this week recovered from the crashed plane that had been taking him to Cardiff, and they paid him the ultimate tribute by securing three important points.

Victory crucially takes Cardiff out of the bottom three and above Southampton, who had been undefeated in the top flight since the turn of the year under their new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

It also ensured successive top-flight victories for the Bluebirds for the first time since April 1962, and came after the hosts had already pulled level in stoppage time.

It had taken 38 minutes before either team, perhaps influenced by the emotion and tension of the occasion, registered a shot on target, let alone threatened to score.

After a minute’s silence in honour of the late Sala, both began with significant tempo but without creativity.

That they both remain at risk of relegation no doubt contributed to the uninspiring balance that had existed between them until Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg produced that first strike on goal.

After chesting a loose ball towards the edge of the area and shooting towards the near post, he watched as the diving Neil Etheridge saved and then as his team-mates responded with greater intent.

Jan Bednarek attempted a through-ball towards Nathan Redmond that was routinely collected by Etheridge, and then Redmond played a one-two with Hojbjerg before sending a low cross towards goal that was deflected by Sol Bamba into the goalkeeper’s hands.

An effort early into the second half from the hosts’ Yan Valery, who worked his way into the area and created space before shooting straight at Etheridge, furthered Southampton’s momentum, and Cardiff responded by introducing Zohore and Leandro Bacuna to ease the growing pressure.

Harry Arter led one attack down the left that came to little, but in the 69th minute after winning a left-wing corner the visitors unexpectedly took the lead.

When Joe Ralls crossed into the penalty area, Callum Patterson headed on towards Bamba, and from directly in front of goal the club captain stretched his right foot to reach the loose ball and poke it beyond the diving Alex McCarthy and in.

Bacuna swiftly tested McCarthy with another effort, struck powerfully from 25 yards as the goalkeeper parried wide, and Southampton were then denied a deserved equalising goal.

When Valery ran into the area and forced a fine save from Etheridge, Charlie Austin’s rebound was blocked by Lee Peltier to Mohamed Elyounoussi, who also struck before also watching Peltier block.

It was in the first minute of stoppage time that Southampton appeared to have secured a draw. James Ward-Prowse’s corner was headed by Austin towards the back post, from where the unmarked Jack Stephens seamlessly finished.

After two further minutes and following another attack with both teams stretched, Arter’s misplaced shot fell to Victor Camarasa, who fed Zohore before watching the striker finish from close range and inside the far right post to secure all three points.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Burnley 3

In-form Burnley boosted their Premier League survival hopes after Chris Wood’s double set them on course for a 3-1 win at Brighton.

Sean Dyche’s Clarets had slipped into the relegation zone ahead of kick-off following Cardiff’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Southampton, but they responded in style as composed finishes from Wood either side of half-time put them in control at a rain-soaked Amex Stadium.

The visitors, who were also indebted to an inspired first-half display from goalkeeper Tom Heaton, went further ahead through Ashley Barnes’ penalty, before Shane Duffy pulled one back for the Seagulls.

Success on the south coast stretched Burnley’s unbeaten run to seven top-flight games, leaving them level on 27 points with their out-of-form hosts.

Albion have been sucked back into relegation danger after taking just two points from a possible 18 during a six-game winless streak since the turn of the year.

Brighton defender Gaetan Bong was once again subjected to boos from opposition fans in reference to last season’s racism row with Burnley-born West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez.

Cameroon international Bong, who accused former Clarets player Rodriguez of making a racist comment during a match in January 2018, was also jeered at Turf Moor last April and during the midweek FA Cup win against the Baggies.

In contrast, the home supporters had plenty to cheer inside the opening five minutes.

A powerful Solly March header from a Bong cross had to be tipped over by Heaton, before the keeper produced an even more impressive stop to keep out Pascal Gross’ powerful volley.

Only a handful of Burnley fans made the long trip south for the televised evening kick-off and they should have been celebrating the opening goal in the 17th minute.

Dwight McNeil’s initial cross from the left was diverted on to the crossbar by Albion defender Duffy, before Barnes headed the rebound against the woodwork with the goal gaping.

After Heaton again saved from March, the visitors made the most of their next opportunity to edge ahead.

An untimely slip from Brighton captain Dunk allowed Wood to race on to Barnes’ hopeful ball forward and emphatically bury the ball past Ryan.

There had been just one goal in the previous three Premier League encounters between the clubs but this was proving to be a far more open affair.

Heaton’s fingertips on a Gross cross denied Glenn Murray a simple headed finish, while Clarets midfielder Jeff Henrick cleared Duffy’s thumping header off the line from a Gross corner.

Winger March was arguably Albion’s best player in the first half but he was substituted early in the second period due to an apparent injury.

Without him, the Seagulls struggled to create and they fell further behind in the 61st minute.

Teenager McNeil produced a marauding run forward before slipping the ball to his left for Wood to calmly slot into the bottom right corner via the hand of Ryan.

The Clarets then wrapped up the points in the 74th minute following an action-packed sequence.

After Hendrick escaped penalty appeals for a possible handball, Barnes broke clear at the other end and was brought down by Ryan before Wood, searching for a hat-trick, slotted wide of the empty net.

Referee Stuart Attwell brought play back to award the penalty, allowing Barnes, another ex-Brighton player, to stroke the ball into the bottom left corner for his second successful spot-kick in as many games.

Any hopes of the visitors seeing the game out without incident were dashed just two minutes later though as Duffy rose to head home his fifth league goal of the campaign from Anthony Knockaert’s searching free-kick, but Brighton were unable to fight back.

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