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Nketiah might not be *the* answer for Arsenal, but he can condense Arteta's "trial."

Arsenal are still in need of a new striker but Nketiah has been excellent and his departure would create unnecessary conundrum for Arteta. (Author: Gardener)

ArtetaArsenal are still in need of a new striker but Eddie Nketiah has been excellent again and his departure would unnecessarily prolong Mikel Arteta's Arsenal trial. Nketiah scores a couple of goals and suddenly becomes the answer for Arsenal, having previously shown no real signs of being up to the task. We're not saying it's cut and dry like that; Arsenal need to sign a new striker whether Nketiah stays or leaves. Arsenal are said to have made numerous extension offers, with the striker's desire to leave, in his own words, because he wants to "play football and play regularly". He has now started five Premier League games on the go and played a key role as Arsenal have asserted their authority in the Champions League qualifying race. Illan Meslier really shouldn't have given Nketiah the opportunity, but when the Leeds keeper dallyed, the Arsenal striker chased him down and attacked him in the first set. He just looks like a very decent Premier League striker and although we're often told how much potential he has, this is the first time we've really had a chance to see it. Largely due to what was seen as a misstep of not signing a striker in January, combined with Alexandre Lacazette's woes in front of goal, Nketiah is Arsenal's most important man for the first time in his career. The question for him, Arteta and the club is whether this run of form is a parting gift or the start of something bigger. Arsenal will continue to target a new striker in the summer but especially with the squad expanding to a far greater extent next season due to European commitments - whether in the Champions League or Europa League - Arteta needs at least one in each position two quality options, hence her desire to keep Nketiah in the club. He would be naïve to think he'll be able to keep a starting spot unchallenged but want a fair shot and not be immediately benched when Darwin Nunez, Lautaro Martinez or whoever arrives in the summer. Should he continue to perform well and score goals early next season, he should keep his place in the team just like he has done this season. Should Nketiah leave on a free transfer, Arsenal will be forced to rely on two forwards as the Emirates continue to rebuild, while they still need reinforcements in most other areas of the squad. How much would they have to spend to replace a forward of Nketiah's quality? At least £20m which, on top of the cash needed for a first choice, would likely mean an outlay of £70m-100m to fix a position. That could mean they can't sign a new full-back or spend as much on a new central midfielder. Essentially, Nketiah's departure will likely leave her in one area or another of the roster and prolong Arteta's "trial." Nketiah might not be the answer for Arteta and Arsenal but his departure would raise a mystery they could do without. The Nketiah article might not be *the* answer for Arsenal, but it can condense Arteta's 'trial', which first appeared on Football365.com.

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Eddie Nketiah leads Arsenal to the brink of top-four while 10-man Leeds fall into the relegation zone

Arsenal 2-1 Leeds: Luke Ayling's red card seemed to end White hopes before Diego Llorente's second-half strike scared the Gunners (Author: Gardener)

Eddie NketiahThis time it was sparked by the relentless run of Eddie Nketiah within just five minutes and made permanent by a first-half surrender by Leeds of such amazing conviction as if they intended to write their own relegation obituary. After Tottenham dropped points against Liverpool yesterday, there should have been some pressure on Mikel Arteta's side, which they have sometimes found difficult to shoulder in the past. But on an idyllic spring afternoon, there was lift, a sense of possibility and optimism in the Emirates, helped by Arteta's signing of a new three-year contract, and the first hour of that 2-1 win often felt like a demonstration of his vision. Nketiah is still looking to end his long association with Arsenal this summer, but his two goals – taking advantage of Ilan Meslier's disastrous hesitation and tapping in his feeble foot from just under a yard before a clever first finish – had crumbled Leeds' pale resistance within the opening 10 minutes. From then on, this should have been just a practice in increasing goal difference, especially after Luke Ayling's senseless act of self-destruction even before half an hour had elapsed when the Leeds captain was sent off for an unnecessary two-footed failure at the corner flag. But as Arsenal, a four-point lead over Tottenham in the top-four race had to be turned into reality after it was bestowed on them. They dominated the ball, missed countless chances to extend their lead and a sense of fear seemed to trickle out from the crowd onto the pitch after Diego Llorente turned a corner in the 66th minute. Nketiah shuts down Ilan Meslier for opener (Reuters) Jesse Marsch could well point to the catalog of injuries that have deprived him of four key players, but the way Martin Odegaard has been given the freedom to command the game and the space , which was granted to Martinelli and Bukayo Saka on the wings, was either tactical suicide or indicated a total disregard for the coach's orders. Their snappy start was only made more concerning by the high stakes at hand, with a recently resurgent Everton also playing Leicester at the same time, and their 2-1 win leaves Leeds in the last three behind Burnley on goal difference. What Marsch and Leeds couldn't take credit for, however, was the kind of disastrous one-off error that allowed Arsenal to take the lead within five minutes and defuse any tension at the stadium. Ayling's back pass wasn't the best but would not have posed a threat had Meslier decided to clear the ball at the first opportunity. Instead, the keeper hesitated, took a loose touch and Nketiah was able to put the ball in the net. It was thanks to the striker's determined desire for pressure that has upheld Arteta's decision to keep Alexandre Lacazette on the bench in recent weeks, although the 22-year-old's celebrations against the club where he was previously on loan for six months have been muted was. Luke Ayling puts two feet up Gabriel Martinelli (Reuters) Nketiah was back in the lead just five minutes later after Martinelli spun past three Leeds players on the left wing. He waited patiently at the penalty spot while an unfortunate defense was scattered and almost out of sight as the striker swept the Brazilian's cutback into the far corner with his weaker left foot. It was all too easy and Ayling's pointless challenge with Martinelli trapped in the corner - upgraded to a red card after a VAR check - certainly looked like the nail in the coffin. Lewis Bate (right) congratulates Diego Llorente after scoring (EPA) However, the word seamless doesn't seem to exist in Arsenal's dictionary and they were punished for failing to extend their lead on either side at half-time, with Martinelli always threatening , but lacks a concise finish. With a quarter of the game remaining, Leeds won their first corner; Junior Firpo flicked at Llorente at the far post and his shot sneaked between Aaron Ramsdale and his near post. The nervousness was palpable as Leeds regained semblance of confidence and they threatened at the break afterwards, even if they missed the final ball to startle an Arsenal defense improved by Takehiro Tomiyasu's move to left-back, leaving the chaotic Nuno Tavares was kept glued to the bank's security. Nervousness still reigned until the final whistle and Arsenal was increasingly losing heart and confidence, almost waving excitement until Ramsdale's stoppage-time save from a tame Rodrigo header ensured they would hold the three points.

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Gary Neville makes north London derby prediction and takes Arsenal postponement in stride

The Gunners had just one Covid case when the game was abandoned in January. (Author: Gardener)

Gary NevilleThe Gunners had just one Covid case when the game was originally abandoned (Pictures: Getty) Gary Neville backs Tottenham to beat Arsenal and believes the north London derby will be particularly sharp after the Gunners lost the game earlier had been postponed under controversial circumstances - a decision with which he did not agree. Mikel Arteta's side can take fourth place - and Champions League football - on Thursday night if they win their away trip against Spurs, with Arsenal currently four points clear of their rivals. The two teams were due to face each other in January but the game was postponed despite the Gunners having just one Covid case, with a combination of outgoing loans, injuries and Afcon participation leaving Arteta with a badly depleted squad. Arsenal's win over Leeds put them four points clear of Spurs (Image: Getty) There has been much criticism of the postponement - not least from Spurs and manager Antonio Conte - and Neville believes it will make the long-overdue derby particularly hostile . while he believes Tottenham will come out on top in the competition. Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast, he said: "I think it's going to be a really tasty game on Thursday night, not just because it's a north London derby and they're playing for Champions League places. "But the way that game was canceled earlier in the year - even I wasn't too happy with it! "I wasn't comfortable with that, I was making the game, I came down on Saturday and I just felt like it was... not great. Look, Arsenal have to lose, but Tottenham on Thursday night will be difficult for Arsenal. If they walk away with a draw or a win, they did very well with the feeling that they will be against them in this stadium. I like Tottenham on Thursday nights. Praising Tottenham's performance against Liverpool, Neville continued: "Tottenham have had to endure a lot of pressure defensively, they've done well defensively but Harry Kane and Son Heung-min - that ground to counterattack is the most difficult to counterattack. Spurs put in a strong performance in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool (Picture: Getty) "I know they did well [at Etihad] but Anfield is so tight and Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate are so fast and stuff strong You're thinking, how do Kane and Son do against them? "They're a joy anyway, they've been outstanding for a number of seasons now but that's the toughest away game to play I think Anfield and it's the toughest game to counter-attack in because of the pitch is so little that it feels like midfield where Kane picked it up and had to break it. 'But Tottenham have connected through Kane with these wide players, he's held it up enough, he's pulled away and rolled people just to get the pass away or turned around and get that pass away and he's doing it absolutely beautifully. For more stories like this, visit our sports page.

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Arsenal 'will do everything' to keep Vivianne Miedema after heartbreak on final WSL day

Champions Chelsea's win over Manchester United rendered the result immaterial as Arsenal ended the season without a trophy (Author: Gardener)

Vivianne MiedemaVivianne Miedema was Arsenal's top scorer in the league with 14 goals. Jonas Eidevall said Arsenal will do everything they can to keep Vivianne Miedema after his side narrowly missed out on the Women's Super League title. Miedema, who has been Arsenal's top scorer for the last four seasons, is out of contract this summer and is reportedly being linked with a move to European champions Barcelona. She insisted she was "undecided" about her future after Arsenal's 2-0 win at West Ham on Sunday. "I really want to win titles," Miedema said on BBC Two. If I feel like the club is moving in that direction, I might stay for a year or two. When she was substituted off to a standing ovation in the 90th minute, Miedema gave the fans a solemn applause for possibly the last time in her five-year Arsenal career. Eidevall praised their performance after the game but not even their player of the match's performance on the last weekend of the season could change Arsenal's fortunes as Chelsea's dramatic comeback at the Kingsmeadow ensured it was futile. There was some consolation in pushing the WSL title race as far as it could and winning the final eight games of the season. But somewhat cruelly, Arsenal ended a phenomenal season - in which they lost just one league game - without a trophy. "We must be disappointed today, we gave absolutely everything," said Eidevall after the game. “Look at the season, we gained 55 points, if we had drawn against Birmingham [in January] we would have won the trophy. The players were a Birmingham game from being 'invincible' and could have been described as the greatest Arsenal team of all time.” Eidevall commented on how important Miedema was to his plans for the future: “We will be ours Do your best to try let them stay. She was one of the players who showed that confidence today when things got tough by saying, 'Give me the ball, I can play us out of there' and that was great to see." Beth Mead, their 11th league Goals for Arsenal have only been surpassed by Miedema's 14 goals this season, saying it is "super important" for Miedema to stay in north London, adding: "It's Viv's decision but I'm quietly confident." and semi-final defeats in the quarter-finals of national cups and elimination from the last eight of the Champions League, Sunday marked Arsenal's last chance at title wins. Three years after their last league title they came tantalizingly close, but Eidevall's first season at the club is still making considerable progress and there are understandable fears that the loss of Miedema would undoubtedly set them back, but rumors surrounding the Chigwell circulated for a while on Sunday West Ham's Construction Stadium that a miracle result could be on the way to sway Miedema's decision. As news trickled through that Chelse was trailing Manchester United in the first half, the title race in Arsenal's hands, the fans who had traveled clamored. Standing on the team bench, the injured Jordan Nobbs leaped at the fans with a fist, a club scarf draped around his neck and mouthed "Come on!" There was a nervous energy on the pitch, however, where West Ham proved impenetrable for long stretches despite efforts from Miedema, Mead and Caitlin Foord. But Stina Blackstenius came on on the hour mark, was immediately played through by Miedema and put Arsenal ahead with her first touch of the game. Steph Catley's powerful shot from inside the box doubled Arsenal's lead but almost simultaneously the news that Sam Kerr had put Chelsea ahead by two goals hit east London and energy was drained from the game, hope stifled. "There has to be consistency throughout the season," said Mead, who couldn't hold back her tears after the game. As well as losing 2-0 to Birmingham in January, Arsenal dropped points against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in the weeks that followed, giving Chelsea the advantage to overtake them. "We have to do a better job of asserting our style when we play against the better sides, both domestically and internationally," said Eidevall. "I was so disappointed with our performance in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea [last month] because I didn't feel we played the way we can. He added that he plans to take the boys' academy from arsenal." involved in training and internal games to improve his team's ability to deal with man-marking teams and "play against something more physical and faster than we're ever going to play in the Champions League." Arsenal without Miedema will thwart whatever plans he has but.

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Eddie Nketiah makes a floor at Leeds to bolster Arsenal's position in fourth

Eddie Nketiah's rapid-fire brace gave Arsenal a 2-1 home win over Leeds, who sent off Luke Ayling 2-0 and dropped into the bottom three (Author: Gardener)

LeedsLeeds may not have helped themselves in a pathetic first half, but they were still overwhelmed by the persistent, insistent pace set by Mikel Arteta's players. Eddie Nketiah, whose future remains uncertain, has fueled this particular debate with two early targets; The subsequent sacking of Luke Ayling appeared to effectively end the competition but, remarkably, Arsenal held on at the end of the game. Diego Llorente ensured the last 25 minutes were far more tense than they should have been and Arsenal's propensity to lead their opposition to a glimmer of daylight remains a problem. While the opening goal was embarrassing for Illan Meslier, who fumbled an early Martin Ødegaard free-kick, it would not have been possible without Nketiah's sheer hunger and nose for error. Ayling's back pass to Meslier, one of the right-back's few precise contributions during his time on the pitch, could have easily been cleared but the keeper took a touch and ran it down his body. He showed far too much of it to Nketiah, who had been eating up the ground to capitalize, and was able to net him from a few yards. That was Nketiah in numbers but it was also the kind of opportunity Arsenal wouldn't create without him. Before 10 minutes was up, he poached another and set himself up 10 yards away as Gabriel Martinelli, who displayed admirable ball control but still got away with exceptional ease, escaped down the left. The cutback was accurate and Nketiah, mysteriously unmarked, was able to bag a regular finish. Arsenal should have scored many more goals after that and the tenuous goal line can't hide a largely disastrous performance from Leeds that leaves them in the bottom three, followed by Chelsea. In their previous game they had at least come close to Manchester City before being brushed aside; here they were a mess from the start and it spoke volumes that the first time one of their players got close enough to one of his opponents he misjudged himself enough to be sent off. It's hard to say that Ayling's red card contributed much to the result, but it was a snapshot of what had gone so wrong. Ayling, who began his Arsenal career, had been roasted by Martinelli for Nketiah's second goal and fared little better as he attempted to chase back-to-back runs. As Martinelli displayed the characteristic speed and appetite for keeping a long, raking pass close to the left touchline in play, Ayling swooped over and it was like he decided it was time to show the Brazilian that he was in the game. Chris Kavanagh initially concluded that Ayling had simply gone in too hard when receiving the ball. A yellow card was issued, but the force of the challenge was significant and it didn't take the most meticulous VAR replays to show that he had two-footed Martinelli, jumping off the ground for traction and his man plowed through. From there the open questions seemed to be whether Arsenal would settle for two and whether Leeds, who seemed happy to keep it that way as Jesse Marsch immediately replaced Joe Gelhardt with Pascal Struijk, could keep 10 men on the pitch. Meslier's continued nervousness suggested the former would remain doubtful: he flapped from a corner and uncomfortably saved from an Ødegaard free-kick, although he was slightly better off deflecting Martinelli's angle shot with one foot. Arsenal's second half should have been a walk in the sun, although perhaps the fact that it turned into one became an issue. The irrepressible Martinelli pulled a really good save from Meslier, overshot and then sliced ​​wide. They waved white scarves and made the lion's share of the noise; They celebrated a rare corner in the 66th minute and must have been stunned when Llorente converted from Junior Firpo at the far post. It was Leeds' first attempt at goal. Meslier rose for two set pieces and was close range when Aaron Ramsdale saved a final Rodrigo streak. Arsenal can just see the finish line.

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Jordan Pickford stars, Man City crowds rising, Arsenal big chance and Leeds on the brink

Everton have one game left against their relegation rivals but they needed three good saves from Jordan Pickford in the second half to clinch the points at Leicester. Plus, Manchester City's home fans make an appearance and Arsenal face a major Top 4 showdown... (Author: Gardener)

Jordan PickfordFrom the moment the final whistle blew in Madrid, thoughts turned to that game and what that grueling defeat in the Spanish capital might mean for Manchester City's prospects of winning the Premier League. Newcastle took a different perspective on Sunday. Knowing that City was no longer in a win-or-bust scenario took some of the sting out of him. Newcastle manager Eddie Howe seemed almost disappointed in his post-match press conference. "I thought the audience was very good for them, it was a very good atmosphere." He might have sensed an opportunity, but the mood was different. "Most of the time in the dressing room we talk about our away fans. When we play away they are good. Sometimes I say we have to play well [at home] to let them know today that this is not a nice place. " ." That wasn't necessary on Sunday. The pace was high from the start, the crowd spurred their team on. Perhaps Manchester City fans sensed their players needed them. The result was a 5-0 win that calmed nerves and set them on the path to a fourth title in five seasons.Newcastle fans at the Etihad Stadium were in a celebratory mood throughout, chastising the home support with reminders of their Champions League elimination and cheerfully pointing out that City may no longer have the wealthiest owners in football after their own takeover.The result on the pitch showed that while the difference in potential between the two clubs has narrowed, the gap in the quality of the teams remains.Newcastle have on the training ground and on to do with the transfer market, which Eddie Howe was keen to point out: "There's a huge gap between us and Liverpool and City, but there's the same gap between en them and most clubs in the Premier League," said the Newcastle manager in his press conference after his side's 5-0 defeat. This trip is reason for Newcastle fans to be excited. It has to be small, incremental steps to improve the team." Arsenal took a big step to secure Champions League football for next season with a 2-1 win over 10-strong Leeds. but they didn't take it easy on themselves, nerves were on edge at the Emirates Stadium when Leeds looked the more likely of the two sides towards the end of the game but they did and now they go four points clear of Tottenham on Thursday for a huge North The London Derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium The Gunners now know that a win at their rivals' home game would secure them a Champions League return for the first time since 2016 and it's a huge chance for them to ease any nerves there is that run-in out of the equation To some extent the pressure is off Arsenal going into Thursday's game, which can be seen live on Sky Sports Spurs need to win to keeping their top four hopes alive and that could play into the hands of Mikel Arteta's side. A young side and as we saw against Leeds nerves are never far from the surface, especially towards the end of the season . However, they have a great chance of getting the job done and it will be even better if they make it at their rivals' north London home. Watch Tottenham v Arsenal live on Sky Sports on Thursday from 7pm; Beginning 7:45 p.m. West Ham would have suffered a European hangover after their disappointing defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in the midweek Europa League semi-finals. But this Hammers squad under David Moyes has a steely focus and a different kind of resilience - and that comes straight from the manager. Vladimir Coufal replaced Ben Johnson and gave Norwich a torrid afternoon along with Jarrod Bowen - Bowen ended up scoring a hat-trick of assists, taking his tally for the season to 10 and becoming the first West Ham player to have at least 10 goals and 10 assists since Paolo Di Canio in the 1999/00 season. Said Benrahma, coming on for Tomas Soucek, scored twice as Moyes nailed his team selection. There was even an opportunity to run Mark Noble off the bench on his 35th birthday. An emphatic 4-0 win at Carrow Road, coupled with Manchester United's embarrassing defeat by the same result at Brighton, has left the door open to West Ham to snatch sixth place and aim for the league again next season to qualify for the Europa League. United, three points clear of West Ham, will be cheering on bitter rivals Manchester City next weekend as they travel to the London stadium for a crucial game in both the title race and the race for a place in the Europa League next season. Trailing 2-0 and with 10 men, Leeds United were looking good at the Emirates Stadium. It seemed damage control time for Jesse Marsch's side, who had to play just over an hour with 10 men after Luke Ayling's mindless red card. However, with the chances stacked against them, Leeds put in a very spirited second-half performance, scoring through Diego Llorente and putting significant pressure on Arsenal towards the end of the game as they looked for an equalizer that would be enough for what came after 27 minutes of the game seemed like an unlikely point. Arsenal ended up being the team that ended up holding on. That's no consolation for Leeds, however, who also put in a spirited performance in the 4-0 defeat by Man City. Of course Leeds needs spirit. "We need the struggle and determination that we saw in the second half," Marsch said after the game. Now they have suffered back-to-back defeats against Man City and Leeds, and with the results of Everton and Burnley in recent weeks they are now in the drop zone for the first time since October 30th. With just three games left, it's time to step up for the spirited Leeds. It looks like Jordan Pickford's saves are keeping Everton in the Premier League. Two games, six points earned with plenty of grit and determination from Everton's 10 outfield players. But when the back line has been breached, a man has held his own, defying his critics and underscoring his status as the top English goalkeeper in the country. Along with Everton's improvement has been a marked shift towards a less possession-based style, beginning at Pickford's feet, pay dividends with its more direct distribution. Pickford's 17 passes in the last third were more than any other teammate. Like last weekend, when Cesar Azpilicueta was speechless at Pickford's reactions. And again at the King Power Stadium, on three separate occasions, to ensure Everton clinched their first away win in the league since August. Nampaly's Mendy is still awaiting his first goal at Leicester and he can't have scored a cleaner strike than his bending effort from distance which Pickford scraped around the post. “Harvey Barnes next was thwarted twice in the space of three minutes by the Everton goalkeeper's keen instincts. Roy Keane recently described Pickford's time-wasting antics as "disgraceful" but said he understood why the tactic was used - he's a forever man under often unfairly scrutinized - but there can only be praise here. Seven saves in total to pull his club out of the relegation zone - with a game in hand against Burnley and Leeds. It was Everton's first two wins since September, and as the 3,339 traveling fans sang Spirit of the Blues from their seats long after the final whistle, none embodied the spirit quite like Jordan Pickford. Mason Holgate's header winner for Everton at King Power on Sunday was the 56th league goal conceded by Leicester this season. Fifteen came from corners, the most in a single season since Brighton 2017/18 (16). Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said it was a "problem ason" after Roma striker Tammy Abraham's goal knocked his side out of the Europa Conference League on Thursday night - and it cost them again three days later irritable," said Rodgers. We put in extra central defense to deal with those moments and changed the system for that. "But we lack that focus and determination to defend them and if you keep doing that, go for it spoiled a lot of your good work and it's happened too often for us this season." Leicester's season is now in danger of fizzled out. Her last win in all competitions came eight games ago at PSV Eindhoven, during her 10-game home game without defeat was ended by an Everton side fighting to stay up A top 10 finish is the best the Foxes can hope for, but when they get into the European footing Returning to the ball and reaching the heights of years past, Rodgers must figure out how to solve a problem that has been his team's Achilles' heel time and time again.

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Jordan Pickford stars, Man City crowds rising, Arsenal big chance and Leeds on the brink

Everton have one game left against their relegation rivals but they needed three good saves from Jordan Pickford in the second half to clinch the points at Leicester. Plus, Manchester City's home fans make an appearance and Arsenal face a major Top 4 showdown... (Author: Gardener)

Jordan PickfordFrom the moment the final whistle blew in Madrid, thoughts turned to that game and what that grueling defeat in the Spanish capital might mean for Manchester City's prospects of winning the Premier League. Newcastle took a different perspective on Sunday. Knowing that City was no longer in a win-or-bust scenario took some of the sting out of him. Newcastle manager Eddie Howe seemed almost disappointed in his post-match press conference. "I thought the audience was very good for them, it was a very good atmosphere." He might have sensed an opportunity, but the mood was different. "Most of the time in the dressing room we talk about our away fans. When we play away they are good. Sometimes I say we have to play well [at home] to let them know today that this is not a nice place. " ." That wasn't necessary on Sunday. The pace was high from the start, the crowd spurred their team on. Perhaps Manchester City fans sensed their players needed them. The result was a 5-0 win that calmed nerves and set them on the path to a fourth title in five seasons.Newcastle fans at the Etihad Stadium were in a celebratory mood throughout, chastising the home support with reminders of their Champions League elimination and cheerfully pointing out that City may no longer have the wealthiest owners in football after their own takeover.The result on the pitch showed that while the difference in potential between the two clubs has narrowed, the gap in the quality of the teams remains.Newcastle have on the training ground and on to do with the transfer market, which Eddie Howe was keen to point out: "There's a huge gap between us and Liverpool and City, but there's the same gap between en them and most clubs in the Premier League," said the Newcastle manager in his press conference after his side's 5-0 defeat. This trip is reason for Newcastle fans to be excited. It has to be small, incremental steps to improve the team." Arsenal took a big step to secure Champions League football for next season with a 2-1 win over 10-strong Leeds. but they didn't take it easy on themselves, nerves were on edge at the Emirates Stadium when Leeds looked the more likely of the two sides towards the end of the game but they did and now they go four points clear of Tottenham on Thursday for a huge North The London Derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium The Gunners now know that a win at their rivals' home game would secure them a Champions League return for the first time since 2016 and it's a huge chance for them to ease any nerves there is that run-in out of the equation To some extent the pressure is off Arsenal going into Thursday's game, which can be seen live on Sky Sports Spurs need to win to keeping their top four hopes alive and that could play into the hands of Mikel Arteta's side. A young side and as we saw against Leeds nerves are never far from the surface, especially towards the end of the season . However, they have a great chance of getting the job done and it will be even better if they make it at their rivals' north London home. Watch Tottenham v Arsenal live on Sky Sports on Thursday from 7pm; Beginning 7:45 p.m. West Ham would have suffered a European hangover after their disappointing defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in the midweek Europa League semi-finals. But this Hammers squad under David Moyes has a steely focus and a different kind of resilience - and that comes straight from the manager. Vladimir Coufal replaced Ben Johnson and gave Norwich a torrid afternoon along with Jarrod Bowen - Bowen ended up scoring a hat-trick of assists, taking his tally for the season to 10 and becoming the first West Ham player to have at least 10 goals and 10 assists since Paolo Di Canio in the 1999/00 season. Said Benrahma, coming on for Tomas Soucek, scored twice as Moyes nailed his team selection. There was even an opportunity to run Mark Noble off the bench on his 35th birthday. An emphatic 4-0 win at Carrow Road, coupled with Manchester United's embarrassing defeat by the same result at Brighton, has left the door open to West Ham to snatch sixth place and aim for the league again next season to qualify for the Europa League. United, three points clear of West Ham, will be cheering on bitter rivals Manchester City next weekend as they travel to the London stadium for a crucial game in both the title race and the race for a place in the Europa League next season. Trailing 2-0 and with 10 men, Leeds United were looking good at the Emirates Stadium. It seemed damage control time for Jesse Marsch's side, who had to play just over an hour with 10 men after Luke Ayling's mindless red card. However, with the chances stacked against them, Leeds put in a very spirited second-half performance, scoring through Diego Llorente and putting significant pressure on Arsenal towards the end of the game as they looked for an equalizer that would be enough for what came after 27 minutes of the game seemed like an unlikely point. Arsenal ended up being the team that ended up holding on. That's no consolation for Leeds, however, who also put in a spirited performance in the 4-0 defeat by Man City. Of course Leeds needs spirit. "We need the struggle and determination that we saw in the second half," Marsch said after the game. Now they have suffered back-to-back defeats against Man City and Leeds, and with the results of Everton and Burnley in recent weeks they are now in the drop zone for the first time since October 30th. With just three games left, it's time to step up for the spirited Leeds. It looks like Jordan Pickford's saves are keeping Everton in the Premier League. Two games, six points earned with plenty of grit and determination from Everton's 10 outfield players. But when the back line has been breached, a man has held his own, defying his critics and underscoring his status as the top English goalkeeper in the country. Along with Everton's improvement has been a marked shift towards a less possession-based style, beginning at Pickford's feet, pay dividends with its more direct distribution. Pickford's 17 passes in the last third were more than any other teammate. Like last weekend, when Cesar Azpilicueta was speechless at Pickford's reactions. And again at the King Power Stadium, on three separate occasions, to ensure Everton clinched their first away win in the league since August. Nampaly's Mendy is still awaiting his first goal at Leicester and he can't have scored a cleaner strike than his bending effort from distance which Pickford scraped around the post. “Harvey Barnes next was thwarted twice in the space of three minutes by the Everton goalkeeper's keen instincts. Roy Keane recently described Pickford's time-wasting antics as "disgraceful" but said he understood why the tactic was used - he's a forever man under often unfairly scrutinized - but there can only be praise here. Seven saves in total to pull his club out of the relegation zone - with a game in hand against Burnley and Leeds. It was Everton's first two wins since September, and as the 3,339 traveling fans sang Spirit of the Blues from their seats long after the final whistle, none embodied the spirit quite like Jordan Pickford. Mason Holgate's header winner for Everton at King Power on Sunday was the 56th league goal conceded by Leicester this season. Fifteen came from corners, the most in a single season since Brighton 2017/18 (16). Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said it was a "problem ason" after Roma striker Tammy Abraham's goal knocked his side out of the Europa Conference League on Thursday night - and it cost them again three days later irritable," said Rodgers. We put in extra central defense to deal with those moments and changed the system for that. "But we lack that focus and determination to defend them and if you keep doing that, go for it spoiled a lot of your good work and it's happened too often for us this season." Leicester's season is now in danger of fizzled out. Her last win in all competitions came eight games ago at PSV Eindhoven, during her 10-game home game without defeat was ended by an Everton side fighting to stay up A top 10 finish is the best the Foxes can hope for, but when they get into the European footing Returning to the ball and reaching the heights of years past, Rodgers must figure out how to solve a problem that has been his team's Achilles' heel time and time again.

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Chelsea are undeterred by the Arsenal threat

Arsenal led the Women's Super League title fight to the final day of the season, but for the third straight year it was Chelsea who lifted the trophy. (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaLONDON -- Chelsea came out of the tunnel with just 45 minutes left for the second half at Kingsmeadow Stadium on Sunday to end a women's Super League season like no other. Despite all their talent, Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes said she was keen to replace some of them. As a result, as Chelsea look back on this title-winning season, they will remember a time when they were pushed to the limit like never before. The stakes could not have been higher: they played on the final day of a dramatic WSL season, just a single point ahead of second-placed Arsenal, who played West Ham United 21 miles east on the other side of Out of Town. The league even ensured there was a trophy in each of the two games. Chelsea went into Sunday's home game against Manchester United as clear favorites and yet nothing went right. WSL's top scorer, forward Sam Kerr, took matters into her own hands. She had told her teammates the day before that she was meeting a "world child". She had envisioned it, confident in her ability to deliver in the biggest of moments. Her prediction came true: with a trailing cross, she lifted a floating ball out of the sky and thundered a weak-footed volley from the edge of the box. It would be the moment that Chelsea turned the tide as they finally capitalized on the opportunity in front of them. Winger Guro Riding sent them forward before Kerr came back into focus and sent another volley into the net from long range.- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only) Get Instant AccessIt was the perfect way to capture a landmark ending the season, one that was surely the most entertaining in WSL history. (His broadcasting deal with Sky Sports and the BBC this season is the most valuable national broadcasting deal in women's football.) And before the final, action at the top of the table reached a climax. There was drama everywhere: Arsenal and Chelsea were chasing the title, third-placed Manchester City needed just a point to seal another Champions League season, while fourth-placed United hoped to bring them to it. At Kingsmeadow, Chelsea was there to finish his journey. It is often difficult to say exactly when title races will start. However, this season's WSL racing began on opening day. Chelsea met Arsenal in the Emirates and the hosts secured an important 3-2 win. It was also at this point that the smoldering mind games between the pair's head coaches began. Hayes had been resting stars that day - notably Kerr and Fran Kirby, who were still recovering from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics three weeks earlier. Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall who made it in his first WSL game took the risk playing against his best players say it's a long season yes the advantage could be there today but my job is keeping everyone on the pitch throughout the season as Chelsea grew ever deeper into the campaign. In last season's belated FA Cup final, which took place in December, they defeated Arsenal 3-0. Before the last day of play, Chelsea had won their last eight WSL games. Arsenal had pushed her to the limits of her consistency, to her consistent best. That set the stage for Sunday. Hayes stressed the consistency in the build: It would be a normal week, the players would train and play as usual and get that much-needed win. Chelsea had a clear plan until United delivered the proverbial punch in the mouth. Martha Thomas headed in from a deep free-kick to advance her season and briefly put the goalless Arsenal in first place on goal difference. Arsenal substitute Jordan Nobbs would sit on the bench watching the Chelsea game on her phone and roaring with excitement at the sight of each United goal. Chelsea hit back when Erin Cuthbert was alive in the box after a corner and hit a half-volley home sending the packed home crowd into an eruption. Wise money would have been to back Chelsea (the side that lifted the domestic treble last season and became perpetual WSL champions) to keep their momentum and composure, but that's what made this final day so exciting. Within 10 minutes, United regained the lead with a volley at the back post from striker Ella Toone. Chelsea were then finally pushed to their absolute limit. They played with a higher line, now finally on the front foot. This is where Kerr's genius came into play when a world-class finish was called for and perhaps no one knew better than she what was about to happen. When her left shoe thundered the volley into the net, the momentum turned. The scores are now balanced. Kerr walked over to Hayes with a beaming smile and described the match as her "destiny." Like her volley, she knew exactly what was going to happen. "That shows confidence," Hayes said. "I've always said [to Kerr], come to Chelsea and you're going to win trophies here... We're both perfectly suited to Chelsea." Arsenal broke the deadlock at West Ham and put them back at the top of the table, somehow it seemed obvious that Chelsea would win. And with minutes to go, Ji showed her quality again, slotting in striker Pernille Harder down the left flank to roll a pass in for the Germany international, which hit the target. Then came another brilliant moment from Kerr: she saw a deflector fall out of the air from 25 yards out before chesting it down and firing past goalkeeper Mary Earps. A 4-2 win for Chelsea meant Arsenal's 2-0 win at West Ham did not change league standings. It meant Hayes' side continued their dynasty, winning their third straight WSL title and their fourth in the last five years. The win is cherished although there is still work to be done at Chelsea. They have seven unsigned players this summer, with new owners pending - spearheaded by LA Dodgers part owner Todd Boehly - tasked with maintaining the dynasty Hayes built in west London. They also need to prepare for next Sunday's Women's FA Cup final (9:20am ET, live stream on ESPN+), where they face City and hope to take home even more silverware in an ever-filling trophy cabinet bring. That's all for another day, though. Hayes' side will sit back and relax on Sunday knowing they have faced the test and proving once again that they are still at the top of the list. "I just knew we were going to win," Kerr said in a post-game press conference.

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Bundesliga – live!

Minute report: Can Mikel Arteta's Arsenal secure fourth place with win over Leeds United? Find out with Tim de Lisle (Author: Gardener)

Leeds UnitedThis website uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Minute report: Can Mikel Arteta's Arsenal secure fourth place with win over Leeds United? The final say goes to a fellow Guardian, who appears on Twitter. "I mean @TimdeLisle, I really appreciated your updates today," says Alexandra Topping, "but if you compare Frank to Sam Allardyce again, I'll leave a custard pie on your chair at work." The proof is in the custard. They have 66 points from 35 games, four more than Spurs and one less than Chelsea. Arsenal's chances of reaching the Champions League are now 77 percent, according to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight. And Everton are sticking to their win at Leicester! Everton are a point ahead of Burnley and Leeds with a game in hand. Leeds have 34 points, as does Burnley, but are actually a point behind because their goal difference is terrible (-35) while Burnley's isn't too bad (-17). Both have three games left while Everton have four. Arsenal clings and uses three big points. Poor ol' Leeds are sinking into the last three - but since falling to ten men in the 27th minute they've actually won that game 1-0. 90+3 min Leeds win the header inside the box and get a second try on goal but it's an easy catch for Ramsdale. 90+3 mins Laca misses a free-kick on the halfway line so Meslier is back on the bike! 90 min Leeds are unable to capitalize from the corner and for a moment Meslier threatens to be even more embarrassed than he was in the fifth minute when Arsenal broke away. A Leeds defender clears up the center line. He goes to a big hand and Lacazette comes in for the extra three minutes. 85 min Arsenal takes an eternity over the free kick and then Odegaard smashes straight at Meslier. Martin Odegaard shoots the free kick directly to the Leeds keeper. 89 min Leeds take a corner! Thanks again to Llorente who sent James (I think) a nice chip to follow up. Meslier agrees. “Certainly predictable,” says Rick Harris, “that West Ham would flatten Norwich but their last two games are Manchester City and Brighton, both away. They won't get anything out of the first if City Cruise go for the title and neither will Brighton turn around for them so I can see Palace beat United on the beach but I can't see West Ham get the three points they took would need to throw United into the Europa Conference League. Besides, it would be like United going to Palace and winning.” 86 min Leeds, still pushing away, are praying for two things here: another juicy set piece for themselves or a goal for Leicester against Everton. Arsenal hold the ball well without showing the ruthlessness the situation calls for. 83 min Smith Rowe's quick feet win a free-kick just outside the D. "Extremely unlikely Arsenal will beat Spurs on goal difference or goals scored," said Danyal Dhondy before the Leeds goal. "Even if this game ends 6-0, Spurs would have to lose to either Burnley or Norwich by 4+ goals (assuming Spurs meanwhile beat Arsenal by a single goal, win their other game 1-0 and Arsenal draw against Newcastle and Everton). Other permutations are possible, but just as improbable...” 81 min The commentators discuss Ödegaard. Alan Smith estimates he is now worth double the £30million Arteta paid for him. "Don't like a day off," adds Smith, "always comes in." 74 mins Jack Harrison, Leeds' man of the month, makes a fine, tricky run down the left flank just for the easy piece, an easy ball for Rodrigo to screw up. Arsenal then got their umpteenth shot – 17th I guess – when Odegaard fired a low shot just wide of the target. 78 min Smith Rowe finally gets a try as Martinelli erupts amid a well-deserved round of applause. 73 mins Man City vs Newcastle squad lists are out with Kieran Trippier back on the bench. 71 min Arteta makes his first substitution but it's not Laca or Smith Rowe who come on. It's Nicolas Pepe who replaces Saka, just down the right wing. Leeds take their first corner, there's a decent push and Diego Llorente is there, unmarked at the far post, to concede with a crisp shot. 69 min Leeds are playing with some confidence now. As Alan Smith says, they suddenly forgot they were missing a man. Tomiyasu goes into the book to fell James. 62 min Soares at right-back is given so much space that he transforms into Cedric Alexander-Arnold. His final cross is chested down by Xhaka (I think) for Martinelli, who again misses the target. On the bench, Lacazette and Smith Rowe have to fight at the top. Gabriel Martinelli has a shot at a third for Arsenal. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 65 mins West Ham have a fourth-place finish at Norwich. Their goal difference is now 11 to Man United's. As a United fan, I have to say that if my team finishes in the Europa Conference League, they deserve it. 60' Martinelli, clean through, can't quite control the ball so his shot goes over the bar. On the hour, Marsch plays his last card: Raphinha if his yellow card changes to red, and Rodrigo continues. It's hard to see that it makes a big difference. Today marks 51 years since Arsenal won the double. 57 min Four corners in a row for Arsenal, who are third in the goal-from-corners table this season, behind Man City and Liverpool. But they don't score from that lot: Leeds eventually get the ball away with a hoof from Struijk. 48 min A teasing curling cross from Odegaard down the right is inches from a tap-in for Xhaka, of all things. Granit Xhaka goes close for the home team. Photo: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters Photo: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters 55 min Leeds manage half a minute of possession and win a couple of free-kicks but it's all in their own half. Dan James and Granit Xhaka get into a bit of argy-bargy before Arsenal resume the attack and Martinelli pulls a save from Meslier with a crisp shot. He has been the man of the match so far. 51 min Leeds are bent on damage control, getting all ten men behind the ball in a 4-3-2 formation. The final shot on goal comes from Gabriel, but he falls and only gets half a foot to the ball, allowing Meslier no problem catching him. This is where half the hell ends for Leeds. From today's point of view they are among the last three and only ten men left. Arsenal are on an easy road, four points above Spurs and just one behind Chelsea, with all three having played 35 games. Eddie Nketiah has both goals and will kick himself if he doesn't finish with a four. 46 min Mateusz Klich, who picked up a yellow card, has been substituted and replaced by Lewis Bate, who is just 19 years old. A calculated risk from Jesse Marsch, who only has one more card to play as his team is getting tired. Everton still lead 2-1 at Leicester against the run of the whole season. And West Ham, recovering from the bitter end of their Europa League run, are 3-0 up at Norwich so they are currently three points behind Man United with a game in hand and a far better goal difference . 45+3 min Leeds forwards are still pushing but it was hard enough when they had 11 men on the field. Arsenal sneak up the other end where some complicated things lead to Odegaard's crossed shot being deflected over the bar. 40 mins Xhaka plays a delicious through ball to Martinelli, who narrowly gets past Meslier but would not have counted for offside. And then Odegaard almost scores with a free-kick, in the middle of the goal, where Meslier claps upwards. "It would take a shaky set of results to matter," says Zach Neeley, "but Arsenal could now be looking to mess up Spurs' lead on goal difference badly." True, and not so shaky - they're five behind now . They already had ten shots today, Leeds none. Second: Leeds' Luke Ayling leading him to fail to properly consider the wisdom of a two-footed slide into Gabriel Martinelli's ankles. Yes, it's all gone a little coldplay. 45 min Arsenal's back four are getting a bit bored and are banging around at walking pace, but the strikers are still showing plenty of spark. When the board announced four overtime minutes, Saka was awarded a free kick at the halfway line. 42 min "I thought Brighton-Manchester United were one-sided," says Alan Smith, "but this takes things to a new level." Possession was reportedly 60-40, although it feels more like 70-30. 33 min Leeds afternoon worsens as Everton score again at King Power. They shouldn't be able to play away! Everything comes on lamps at King Power while Everton lead Leicester. Photo: James Williamson/AMA/Getty Images 37 min "Leeds are playing like it's 2016," says The Stellarossa on Twitter. 'Bad passes and man rolls.' 34 min Another yellow card for Leeds as Mateusz Klich becomes the next player to recreate the seventies by slamming Granit Xhaka from behind. The referee, Chris Kavanagh, goes to the monitor and yes it's red. Yes, that's a red card. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images 30 mins Raphinha's dissenting opinion has earned Leeds a dubious accolade: the all-time record for most yellow cards in a PL season. 25 min Luke Ayling knocks out Martinelli near the corner flag, like in the 1970s. He gets a yellow card, but it looks a lot like red... "Best teams?" says Cian O'Mahony, answering my question from the 14th minute. 29 min march takes off Joe Gelhardt and sends Pascal Struijk on, so the idea goes that Leeds are treating attack as their best form of defence. 23 min Soares releases Saka with a chip down the right side and it would be 3-0 had someone been there to capitalize on Odegaard's cut-back. 20 min Leeds have a good spell! Dan James, now number 10, sneaks into the Arsenal box and then Leeds keep the ball for a full minute before Raphinha's left footed cross sails wide of the far post. 18 min Nketiah can sniff a hat trick here. At the end of a curling cross from Martinelli, he only manages a hooked volley. Done by Martinelli, who weaves past three defenders and plays a decent cutback. Nketiah just has to tap it in with his left foot, like Son did at Anfield last night. It's two for Nketiah as he doubles Arsenal's lead. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA 15 min It's still one-way traffic. Misfortune for Leeds! Meslier dallys on the ball and Eddie Nketiah essentially scores with a tackle. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images 14 mins When Leeds lose, they usually lose big. But there is a glimmer of good news for them - Leicester have equalized so Leeds have just slipped back to 17th, a point above Everton. Anyone else old enough to remember when Leeds and Everton were the top two teams in England? 7 min To further insult the incompetence for Leeds, Everton have just gone ahead at Leicester. As it stands, Leeds are in the bottom three. 3 min The free-kick hits the wall, rises and ends up in Meslier's arms. Leeds get up at the other end as Raphinha Tomiyasu runs away but nothing comes of it. 2' Bukayo Saka runs at a long ball and is awarded a free kick. 1 min A messy start as Gabriel knocks out a sideways pass. It was aimed at Soares, who is at right-back with Tomiyasu on the left. Leeds fans' thoughts are with Stuart Dallas who has a broken leg. This is the first league game he has missed since Leeds returned to the Prem. When asked why he traded Tavares for Soares, he quips a bit about how every game is different and doesn't let us get the wiser. "We just want to make sure," he says, "that we play boldly." He notes that Arsenal have changed a few things - the sound of a man who's spent the week studying the Elneny-Nketiah axis. Mikel Arteta's line-up is as expected except with Nuno Tavares making way for Cedric Soares at left-back. When Tavares is fit it seems a bit tough after he opened the scoring against Man United. Jesse Marsch makes two changes from the 4-0 defeat by Man City. Dan James and Joe Gelhardt, who were both substitutes at the time, start today, replacing Pascal Struijk and the injured Stuart Dallas. It's a more offensive side, suggesting Marsch is eyeing all three points. Good day everyone and welcome to the fight for fourth place in the Premier League - fourth from the top where Arsenal sits nicely and fourth from the bottom where Leeds are restless. Arsenal were set to be in an easy two-horse race with Spurs for last place in the Champions League, although Chelsea appear determined to turn it into a twisted love triangle. Meanwhile, Leeds are the melted cheese in a Greggs sandwich between Everton and Burnley and if goal difference alone matters they are doomed. Leeds can't wait to win here after a 4-1 defeat in the second leg but they need to make sure they don't do worse than Everton in Leicester today. Thanks to Jesse Marsch and the new manager's jump, Leeds' form has actually been better than Arsenal's (11 points to nine) in their last six games. But things have been even worse in the last three years as Arsenal have roared back with crucial victories over Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham after three bewildering defeats. As the league's third-best home side, they should sweep Leeds aside, but they could be distracted by the fact that they have a far bigger cause on Thursday - Spurs away. Kick-off is at 2pm (UK time) and I'll be back with the teams soon. In the meantime, join Rob Smyth to see if Arsenal can win a league this season.

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How Arsenal's trophy was won and lost in the closest title races

Chelsea were crowned WSL winners after a 4-2 win over Man Utd at Kingsmeadow; Arsenal won 2-0 at West Ham but finished second, a point behind; Emma Hayes' side won their third consecutive title, a new WSL record for consecutive wins (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaAfter Chelsea defended the WSL title with a 4-2 win over Man Utd on the final day, we look back at where the trophy was won and lost in a thrilling race to the end. It's been a long nine months since Arsenal raised eyebrows with an opening-day win over the reigning champions at the Emirates Stadium, as new Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall announced his arrival in style and his celebrations at the full-time whistle were enough to anger some of the Chelsea backroom teams. That extra bite has lived throughout the season, with a respectful but fiercely contested title race almost ending by the final day when Chelsea beat Man Utd 4-2 to clinch their third straight title by a point to win on Arsenal. After losing to Arsenal on the opening day of the league season, Chelsea have since won 18 of their 21 games. Despite being beaten by Reading in December, Emma Hayes' side were in relentless form as the heat began to mount in the title race, winning their last nine league games straight after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at Kingsmeadow in February. They have sometimes dug deep to find victory and created some memorable scenes when, in March, they scored a 1-0 win over Aston Villa through Sam Kerr's 92nd-minute goal, leaving the title race in their own hands . The last day was no different. They were 2-1 down at half-time against Man Utd and needed two stunning goals from Kerr - along with Guro riding - to secure their third straight WSL title. Even almost an hour with 10 players against Tottenham last month, when goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger was sent off, couldn't stop her from beating her old rival 3-1 and continuing her title fight. "In the crisis my team does really well, over the past few years there have rarely been times when we have had a crisis and I thought that was an amazing, amazing display of courage, confidence, conviction, cohesion, camaraderie, all the things that cannot be underestimated. ' Hayes said after the game. Under their leadership there have not been many crises at Kingsmeadow and they have always kept their cool - they edged out Manchester City by a point last season and this time meet Arsenal in a similarly close race. Fast-forward to September, however, and things weren't looking so rosy after that opening-day defeat at Arsenal... The Champions League had an impact at both ends of the season - Chelsea reached the 2020/21 final, a week after the last WSL game of the season lost to Barcelona. They then returned for an FA Cup fifth round win over Everton before a number of players traveled to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics. Of course, Arsenal were also in the fifth round and had a number of players representing their countries but playing a lot fewer games during the season after missing out on European qualification. That season, the Gunners had played three hard-fought Champions League qualifiers before beating Chelsea in the opening weekend, giving them a lead over the Blues who would hold them until March. Arsenal midfielder Kim Little told Sky Sports in December: "Right after the summer and the Olympics we had a lot of players away but a bit differently than most other teams, we came straight back into the game for Champions League qualification. So we were able to find momentum and performance early in the season. We started very well, especially in the WSL and then went into the Champions League and FA Cup games. Then of course because there are so many games we didn't play as well as we would have liked compared to the August, September, October period." Chelsea needed a little more time to settle in as the squad seemed after one busy summer to gel again, arguably also with fatigue and the absence of Covid-19.They were also kicked out of Europe on goal difference in the group stage as they hammered 4-0 in their last game at Wolfsburg, being knocked out by the Germans: “A few days before we had two players stuck with covid." If you're in a team environment you know it's spreading like wildfire through the squad... It's right through the game at the moment. Arsenal, meanwhile, were still in the K at the end of March The sheer mileage involved in the physical and mental strain on Eidevall's side, Sky Sports' Karen Carney added: "The Champions League could be a factor at the end of the season. Chelsea went out early, they could focus on the league. “Arsenal were still there and playing against a real top opponent and had to focus on that. While the Gunners pushed Chelsea to the end - they were top of the table at half-time on the last day - Arsenal's woes were plain to see in Eidevall's first year in charge, although the Gunners are the league's top scorers with 65 goals and have conceded one less as Chelsea, they have narrowly missed in big games over the years, losing eight points over the course of the season to teams currently in the top five - including the two Manchester clubs. The element of surprise played a part in their early success when they won three against Chelsea in the opening weeks of the season and Manchester City scored for five, as they have since scored just eight goals in six games against top-five opponents, or 16 in eight games all season. Compare that to Chelsea, who lost just five points against top five teams. Just two of those after that first-day defeat Essen for Arsenal while they scored 22 goals in eight games against their rivals. This allowed the Blues to suffer that shock defeat at Reading and even draw against Brighton while still emerging victorious in the title race. But perhaps Arsenal's biggest downfall was a surprise 2-0 defeat by relegated Birmingham in their first game after the winter break – the Gunners' only defeat of the league season. But poor defensive play meant the Blues clinched all three points and former Arsenal forward Kelly Smith believes the defeat defined the season. She told Sky Sports: "Arsenal were at the top of the league for most of the season... They've had such a fantastic season but they just fell short of the Birmingham result as they lost 2-0 and they were expected to win, that result could have changed the outcome of the season.” Despite beating West Ham 2-0 on the final day, the title race was finally out of their hands. After 182 days at the top of the WSL, Arsenal had to settle for second place again, Eidevall told the BBC: "It feels very empty right now. I'm very proud of the players, how they've handled the situation." If you get 55 points you know you can win. You can feel the excitement throughout the game. You love it and it's great to see how the players have reacted under the pressure. We have to keep believing in this and our game in improve next season."

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