Manchester United would be “stupid” to look at the table and consider themselves title contenders with more than half the season still to play, Marcus Rashford said after Tuesday`s 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers lifted them to second. With the game at Old Trafford heading for a draw, the 23-year-old unleashed a left-footed shot that took a deflection off Romain Saiss and beat Rui Patricio in the third minute of stoppage time.
United, now nine games unbeaten in the league, climbed two places to second behind champions Liverpool with 30 points from 15 games but Rashford was reluctant to read too much into their position at this stage. “We can’t look too far ahead,” he told Amazon Prime.
Southampton failed to score for the third Premier League game in succession as they slogged out a 0-0 home draw with West Ham United on Tuesday, missing a chance to climb into the top four. The stalemate was perhaps predictable with both sides now having drawn three of their last four games and struggling somewhat to maintain their earlier-season momentum. Southampton dominated possession, especially in the first half, and had an early Danny Ings effort ruled out for offside. But they struggled to find cracks in a well-drilled defence. If anything West Ham will feel as though they should have returned to the capital with a win having had the best chances in the second half with Said Benrahma close to a late winner.
Arsenal stage revival
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta praised French striker Alexandre Lacazette for ignoring a back injury to come off the bench and score the winner at Brighton & Hove Albion as the Londoners finally seemed to get the blend of youth and experience right. Lacazette came on in the second half to change the game, teeing up teenage winger Bukayo. Saka’s pass with his first touch before scoring with his second to secure a 1-0 win that ends a difficult year on a positive note for the Gunners.
“I think this is what all the managers dream for, to bring people from the bench and win you the game like he`s done tonight,” Arteta told reporters. “I think he’s been in really good form in the last few weeks, he`s been scoring goals, he`s full of confidence. Today he had a sore back, he could not start the game. But he came on and won the game for us which is massively important,” he added.
Saka, who scored in Arsenal`s 3-1 Boxing Day win over Chelsea, was a constant threat as Arteta`s younger players gelled with their more experienced team mates en route to victory.
“They need the right senior players amongst them to shine. I think they showed the most important quality, which is the personality to come to any ground and play with freedom and enjoy being a footballer,” Arteta said. Having secured consecutive wins for the first time since September, the Spanish coach is hoping his side can kick on in the New Year.
A farcical early own goal from Romaine Sawyers summed up a miserable day for West Bromwich Albion as the Premier League strugglers were thumped 5-0 by Leeds United on Tuesday. Further first half goals from Ezgjan Alioski, Jack Harrison and Rodrigo, and a brilliant strike in the second from Raphinha, gave Leeds their biggest top-flight victory since a 6-1 win at Charlton Athletic in April 2003 and confirmed the enormous task facing West Brom manager Sam Allardyce to keep his side up. Leeds move up to 11th in the table with 23 points, while West Brom remain second-bottom on eight points from 16 games, five shy of safety. The home side fell behind in the ninth minute as Sawyers put the ball into his own net. He was pressured 25 yards from his goal, swivelled and played a back-pass to where he expected goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to be.