Arsenal closed out 2022 with a 4-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday that gives them a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League after title rivals Manchester City and Newcastle United both dropped points.

Arsenal opened up a 3-0 lead through Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah but Brighton never gave up, pulling two goals back either side of a Gabriel Martinelli strike to set up a nervous finish for the Gunners, who held on to win.

The victory leaves Arsenal in pole position on 43 points from 16 games with champions City on 36, Newcastle on 34 from 17 and Manchester United on 32 from 16.

Earlier in the day City wasted their chance to increase the pressure on Arsenal, drawing 1-1 at home to struggling Everton despite Erling Haaland’s 21st league goal of the season giving them the lead.

Newcastle United also dropped home points as a 0-0 stalemate with Leeds United deprived Eddie Howe’s side of a seventh successive league win.

Marcus Rashford gave the perfect response to being left out for disciplinary reasons by scoring Manchester United’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers that lifted them into the Premier League’s top four on Saturday.

The in-form Rashford was benched by manager Erik ten Hag after being late for a team meeting but came off the bench to fire home a 76th minute winner at Molineux.

Southampton will end the year rock bottom after conceding late on to lose 2-1 at Fulham — their fifth successive defeat.

Crystal Palace hit back from a 3-0 home defeat by Fulham on Monday to beat Bournemouth 2-0 away thanks to goals by Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze.

Rashford has been rejuvenated for club and country and after scoring three goals for England at the World Cup has now scored three goals in three games in all competitions since returning.

But his day did not start off as planned with manager Ten Hag leaving him out of the starting line-up as punishment for what was a minor disciplinary lapse.

Without him United were struggling to break down a Wolves rearguard with his replacement Alejandro Garnacho wasting the visitors’ best chance to break the deadlock.

Rashford was sent on at the interval for Garnacho and sealed the points in the 76th minute when he held off Wolves’ substitute Jonny before lashing the ball home from close range.

“He was bright, he was lively and he scored a goal to give a good reaction,” Ten Hag said. “Everyone has to adhere to the rules and if you react like this, it is the right answer.”

When Haaland latched on to Riyad Mahrez’s pass to tap home in the 24th minute it looked almost a formality that City would slice Arsenal’s lead down to two points.

But Everton, on a three-match losing run in the league, had other ideas and stunned the hosts after the break when Demarai Gray cut inside and unleashed a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area which beat City’s goalkeeper Ederson.

Everton moved two points above the drop zone.

Newcastle’s Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes wore a yellow shirt with the number 10 on the back during a minute’s applause for compatriot Pele who died on Thursday as the Premier League paid tribute to the iconic player.

But he was unable to inspire his side to a victory against a resolute Leeds side who hung on for a point.

Nottingham Forest’s comeback point against Chelsea in the Premier League is a “step in the right direction”, says midfielder Ryan Yates.

Right-back Serge Aurier showed terrific composure to cancel out Raheem Sterling’s goal with a fine equaliser.

It is the first point Steve Cooper’s side have taken after going behind this season and extends their unbeaten home run to six games in all competitions.

“To show the resilience to come back is very good,” Yates told Sky Sports.

“I thought we were unlucky to not win based off the second half.

“It is a step in the right direction. The manager just said ‘believe in yourselves more’ at half-time. It is something to build on – we’re not satisfied with drawing games at home but it is a start.”

The point means Forest move above Wolverhampton Wanderers into 18th and are only behind fourth-bottom West Ham United on goal difference.

Chelsea, who have now only won successive league games once under Graham Potter since he was appointed on 8 September, climb above Brighton into eighth but are seven points behind Manchester United in fourth.

Manager Unai Emery praised his Aston Villa team after they increased the pressure on Tottenham boss Antonio Conte with a “fantastic” away win.

An error by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in his first game back since the World Cup allowed Emiliano Buendia to score, before Douglas Luiz doubled the lead at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Villa have won back-to-back away league games as they improve under Emery.

“We are so happy. We competed very well,” he said.

Lacklustre Spurs, who fell out of the Premier League top four on Saturday, have now won only two of their past seven matches.

France keeper Lloris endured a shocking moment in the 50th minute. He spilled Luiz’s long-range effort and Ollie Watkins squared the rebound for Buendia to slam home.

Luiz started and finished the move to make it 2-0, sliding a pass to John McGinn before racing on to receive the return and chipping cutely past Lloris.

Liverpool missed the chance to reduce the gap to the Premier League’s top four as Brentford punished their defensive frailties in a deserved victory at the Community Stadium.

In a desperate first half, Liverpool shipped two poor goals amid an inspired performance from the hosts.

The opener came when Ibrahima Konate deflected a corner into his own net after 19 minutes.

Liverpool were unable to deal with Brentford’s set-pieces, conceding twice more from corners in the first half only for both goals to be ruled out for offside.

Moments after the second disallowed effort from Yoane Wissa, the Bees striker headed in after Liverpool had sloppily given the ball away.

A triple half-time change from a visibly frustrated Reds’ manager Jurgen Klopp, including replacing captain Virgil van Dijk, had the desired effect and Liverpool pulled one back through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain within five minutes of the restart.

At that stage the momentum seemed to be with Liverpool, but Brentford weathered the storm.

With six minutes left, Bryan Mbeumo sealed an impressive success, brushing off Konate in pursuit of a long ball before slotting home.

Brentford are now unbeaten in six games – their best run in the top-flight for more than 80 years – and climb to seventh.

Liverpool, who would have been a point off fourth with a win, stay sixth and two points clear of the Bees.

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