League topping Arsenal drop points as Southampton snatch a draw


Premier League leaders Arsenal dropped points for only the second time this season after Southampton hit back to snatch a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.

Granit Xhaka’s second goal in four days following his Europa League winner against PSV Eindhoven set the in-form Gunners on course for a 10th win from 11 top-flight games.

But Mikel Arteta’s team was upset because Saints got better in the second half and tied the game 25 minutes from the end when Stuart Armstrong scored his first club goal since March.

Arsenal thought they had claimed a 79th-minute winner through captain Martin Odegaard but the ball was adjudged to have gone out of play before it was cut back by substitute Kieran Tierney.

The draw was Arsenal’s first in 32 fixtures in all competitions, dating back to a goalless stalemate with Burnley in January, leaving them just two points above Manchester City and with plenty of regrets.

Gabriel Jesus had two chances to make the visitors’ lead bigger after Xhaka scored the first goal in the 11th minute. Shortly after Armstrong’s equalizer, Gunners technical coach Nicolas Jover was given a yellow card for protesting from the sidelines.

The last time Arsenal went to St. Mary’s, they lost 1-0. This was the third of three bad losses in April that cost them a spot in the Champions League.

The Gunners went to the south coast as the early leaders in the Premier League, even though champions City’s 3-1 win over Brighton on Saturday temporarily cut their lead to one point. The Gunners were also already through to the next round of the Europa League group stage.

Arteta’s men wasted little time in asserting their authority on the contest.

Xhaka had already tested Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu when he hit a right-footed half-volley into the top of the net from right next to the penalty spot after a cross from the right by Ben White, who had played a one-two with Bukayo Saka.

Southampton had ended a five-game winless run with a nervy 1-0 midweek victory at neighbours Bournemouth.

Yet, with Che Adams — their match-winner at Vitality Stadium — beginning on the bench due to a hamstring concern, they initially lacked attacking threat.

Jesus almost doubled Arsenal’s lead just before the break but his volley following neat interplay with Odegaard was pushed away by Bazunu.

The Brazilian forward had another golden opportunity to give the Gunners breathing space on the hour mark but he dithered and was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Mohamed Elyounoussi after breaking through on goal.

Elyounoussi then changed the game again in a big way when the Saints tied the score with their first real attempt.

The Norway winger burst forward before delivering a perfectly weighted through ball for recalled Scotland international Armstrong to calmly slip the ball beyond Aaron Ramsdale and into the bottom left corner.

Arsenal’s hopes of winning the title were hurt when Odegaard’s goal was called back, but they rarely threatened to take the lead back.

The fact that Southampton haven’t lost in three games is good news for Ralph Hasenhuttl, whose job is already in danger.

Wolves 0 Leicester 4

Clinical Leicester did whatever they wanted to get out of the drop zone and throw Wolves into chaos as Molineux was about to become poisonous.

Youri Tielemans’s great first goal put the Foxes on the path to a 4-0 win, which was their first win on the road this season.

Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Jamie Vardy also struck as the Foxes scored with their first four shots.

Bottom of the Premier League at the start of the day, Leicester end it out of the drop zone — and two points clear — after crucial back-to-back wins.

Brendan Rodgers had warned of the harsh realities the season would bring after failing to significantly strengthen in the summer but the Foxes are now upwardly mobile after three wins from five games.

For Wolves, the signs are ominous. They failed to take their chances — despite 21 shots — and were punished in a wild opening which left them playing catch-up.

Managerless, having failed to persuade Michael Beale to leave QPR, with Steve Davis in caretaker charge until 2023 the season is unravelling as Molineux turned on the club’s hierarchy following a fifth defeat in six games.

Second bottom after losing such a crucial basement battle, it is increasingly hard to see a successful survival battle.

Little went right for the hosts in the first half even if they were on the offensive early and Diego Costa, looking for his first Wolves goal, had a shot deflected over.

Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho also fired wide but Wolves found themselves 2-0 down inside 20 minutes.

There was little to suggest the Foxes — who had lost every away game this season — would take control so quickly but when it came it was emphatic.

Jonny dragged back Harvey Barnes after seven minutes to allow Maddison to swing in a free-kick from the left which was half-cleared to Tielemans 25 yards out.

The midfielder didn’t hesitate to hit a beautiful half-volley with his first shot, and it flew into the top corner.

A second arrived after 19 minutes when the Foxes cut through Wolves with worrying ease and Barnes swapped passes with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to roll under Jose Sa.

In between, the hosts had created more chances, Danny Ward denying Matheus Nunes and Max Kilman nodding over, but with just five goals this season there was little hope of a comeback around Molineux.

After losing seven of their first nine games, Leicester started to turn things around when they beat their rivals, Nottingham Forest, at the beginning of the month. They then enjoyed another battle in the Midlands, but Wolves’ defense was too easy to get through.

Tielemans just missed Barnes’ cross as they found holes in the defense, and the early momentum of the home team went away.

It was replaced by anxiety and frustration, which only doubled when James Justin blocked Costa’s shot on the line five minutes before the break.

A fine Ward save denied Podence in first-half injury time and they at least kept pressing after the break with Ruben Neves sending a free-kick wide.

But the home fans turned on the club, most notably technical director Scott Sellars, and it got worse when Maddison added a third after 65 minutes.

The midfielder, back after suspension, grabbed his sixth goal of the season when he collected Vardy’s pass, held off Adama Traore, breezed past Nathan Collins and found the bottom corner.

The mood darkened further when Vardy grabbed his first goal of the season with 10 minutes to go, tapping in Timothy Castagne’s cross after Kilman’s wayward pass.

Leeds 2 Fulham 3

Bobby Decordova-Reid and Willian scored second-half goals as Fulham won 3-2 at Elland Road to send Leeds spiralling into the Premier League’s bottom three.

A fourth straight defeat has further cranked up the pressure on Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch, whose side’s winless run was extended to eight matches.

It started well for the under-fire American when Rodrigo headed Leeds in front, but they were pegged back before half-time by Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header.

Leeds had most of the ball in the second half as they tried to get back in front, but they couldn’t score, so Decordova-Reid’s header and Willian’s sliding finish hurt them.

Leeds substitute Crysencio Summerville reduced the deficit in the first minute of added time, but it was not enough and by then Marsch had already endured chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ from his own fans.

Fulham kept making great progress under Marco Silva. Their 3-0 home win over Aston Villa on Thursday night moved them up to ninth in the table.

They now sit eighth after their fifth league win of the season following promotion under Silva last May.

Leeds’ accustomed flying start had Fulham scrambling inside their own penalty area as Luis Sinisterra and then Jack Harrison were crowded out.

But the only shot at goal during an encouraging opening spell for Leeds came from Sam Greenwood, making only his second start for the club, and that flew over the crossbar.

In the 14th minute, Harrison Reed’s low shot was blocked on the goal line by Marc Roca and then cleared by Robin Koch. This was Fulham’s first shot and went against the flow of the game.

Leeds were then rewarded for their breakneck start. Brenden Aaronson picked out Harrison and his shot deflected off Fulham skipper Tim Ream to the far post where Rodrigo headed home his fifth goal of the season.

The home side’s lead was short-lived though as Mitrovic’s near-post header from Andreas Pereira’s corner flew through Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier’s grasp.

Fulham’s riposte — and Mitrovic’s ninth league goal of the season — silenced Elland Road and the home fans held their breath soon after when Pereira raced clear following a clearance from a Leeds corner.

But Meslier, making his 100th Whites appearance, made amends for his earlier gaffe with a superb block to keep the scores level at the break.

Leeds flew out of the blocks again after the restart. Rodrigo’s shot was held by Bernd Leno and Aaronson’s effort curled off target.

Leeds had a lot of chances, but Rodrigo and Luke Ayling both missed the goal. Luke Ayling then saved his team twice at the other end by stopping Joao Palhinha and blocking another shot that was headed for the goal.

Patrick Bamford, who came on as a second-half sub, was stopped by Leno’s smart block, but Fulham turned the game on its head when Decordova-Reid headed in Pereira’s cross to give them the lead.

A large section of home fans called for March to go and chanted ‘sack the board’ before Willian turned home Reed’s 84th-minute cutback, while Summerville’s stoppage-time effort for Leeds was mere consolation.

Aston Villa 4 Brentford 0

Aston Villa made a resounding start to life after Steven Gerrard as a 15-minute blitz paved the way for a 4-0 win over Brentford at Villa Park.

Gerrard was fired late on Thursday night following the 3-0 defeat at Fulham, with first-team coach Aaron Danks thrust into caretaker charge and he got the perfect response from the Villa players as they ran riot in the opening quarter of an hour.

Leon Bailey’s strike and Danny Ings’ brace blew the Bees away and put them on course for just a third win of the season, with Ollie Watkins’ goal on the hour adding the gloss on a memorable afternoon.

If Gerrard was watching, it must have been painful for him to see because he had been telling his front players to do more in the last few weeks of his reign.

Perhaps a performance like this coming immediately after the former England captain’s exit speaks volumes, but it reinforces the capabilities Villa have and any possible new manager will be enthused.

It may be too early for Danks to be considered a candidate but he has shown he is a safe pair of hands while the search continues, with Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim still the heavy favourite.

Thomas Frank, the manager of the Bees, is also one of the bookmakers’ favorites for the job. However, his team’s poor performance hasn’t helped their chances as they wait for their first win on the road this season.

Danks, who made the bold decision to drop captain John McGinn, could not have dreamed of a better start to life in the Villa dugout as his side surged into a 3-0 lead.

They needed only 63 seconds to go in front as a well-worked corner routine saw Douglas Luiz tee up Bailey, whose low shot 12 yards out found the bottom corner.

It got better six minutes later as Ings doubled the lead, on hand to score his first league goal since August when he converted Bailey’s low centre.

Villa kept going and made it 3-0 in the 14th minute when Kristoffer Ajer tripped Tyrone Mings at a corner and gave Villa a clear penalty. Danny Ings sent the resulting penalty kick down the middle.

Brentford’s last away game, at Newcastle, where they lost 5-1, left them in a state of shock. They were lucky to only be down 3 goals as Villa kept pressing.

Luiz flashed an effort just wide after making space for himself before the hosts were denied by the heroics of Bees goalkeeper David Raya, who produced three quick-fire saves on the stroke of half-time.

First the Spaniard got a fingertip on a wicked Luiz corner to tip it on to the post, then got up to brilliantly claw Watkins’ effort away before also keeping out a low Matty Cash shot.

Villa were able to add a fourth after the break as Watkins got on the scoresheet after an hour.

He finally scored on his third try after the dangerous Bailey set him up. Before that, Raya had made two great saves to keep him from scoring.

Villa were able to take their foot off the pedal and see out an impressive win with ease.