Arsenal top Leeds to stay 8 points clear of Manchester City

Sports Desk, Apr 1 (EFE).- Making his first Premier League start since having knee surgery in December, Gabriel Jesus put up a brace Saturday as Arsenal dispatched Leeds United 4-1 to restore the league leaders’ 8-point advantage over Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

The Brazilian, who had gone 18 matches without a goal for club or country, converted a penalty in the first half and scored from open play in the second to help extend the Gunners league winning streak to seven games.

Leeds remain 16th, just a point above the drop zone.

The pressure was on the Gunners at the Emirates in north London after defending champions City thrashed Liverpool 4-1 hours earlier in Manchester.

Arsenal were uncharacteristically ineffectual in the early going and the visitors created chances. Crysencio Summerville and Jack Harrison forced stops from goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale before Luke Ayling foolishly fouled Jesus in the area and the referee pointed to the spot.

Jesus beat Illan Meslier to make it 1-0 for the hosts in the 35th minute.

Ben White doubled the margin in the second minute of the second half and Jesus got his second of the match in the 55th, redirecting a cross from Leandro Trossard.

A poor clearance by Granit Xhaka opened the door for Rasmus Kristensen to narrow the deficit to 3-1 in the 76th minute.

Eight minutes later, Xhaka made up for his mistake by heading in a ball from Martin Odegaard to complete the 4-1 rout.

At Stamford Bridge in west London, Chelsea hosted Aston Villa hoping to maintain the momentum that has brought them three wins in their last four matches.

The Blues were poised to score in the 6th minute after Villa’s Boubacar Kamara lost the ball to Mykhailo Mudryk and the Ukrainian took aim on goal from close range, but World Cup-winning keeper Emiliano Martinez managed to tip the ball over the cross-bar.

Miscommunication between Chelsea defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella allowed Ollie Watkins to get the better of Kepa in the 18th minute and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The home side, who would end the game with 69 percent possession and 27 shots to Villa’s five, were relentless on the attack for the rest of the first half, only to see Martinez stop Joao Felix, Kai Havertz (twice), and Mudryk.

Ben Chilwell hit the post in the 35th minute and went on to beat Martinez with a header in first-half stoppage time, but the goal was disallowed for a foul in the buildup.

Eleven minutes into the second half, John McGinn scored to stretch Villa’s lead to 2-0.

Chelsea would continue to charge forward, yet Martinez proved equal to the task, denying Felix and late sub Christian Pulisic to preserve the clean sheet.

Villa, who have been on an upward trajectory since Unai Emery took charge as coach last November, moved up to 10th place, pushing the Blues down into the bottom half of the table. EFE apa-id/dr

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