Thomas Tuchel is worried Mateo Kovacic may have sustained a "major injury" in the awful challenge from Dan James that reduced Leeds United to 10 men in Chelsea's 3-0 win on Wednesday.

Needing three points to get back on track in their pursuit of Champions League qualification, Chelsea's task was made easier at Elland Road by James' first-half red card.

In similar fashion to Luke Ayling's dismissal at Arsenal in Leeds' previous game, James lunged in on Kovacic, getting the ball but then planting his studs in his opponent's ankle.

That earned the 99th card of Leeds' league season and was soon followed by a landmark 100th (Kalvin Phillips' booking) – a Premier League first and evidence of the relegation battlers' ill discipline.

Chelsea, already 1-0 up through Mason Mount, took advantage with goals from Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku, although Tuchel surely would have preferred to play against 11 men and not lose Kovacic to injury days before the FA Cup final.

"If we did not have the major injury to Mateo Kovacic, it would have been close to a perfect evening," Tuchel told BBC Sport. "It was a very strong performance from the start.

"We accepted all the obstacles we'd have to face – a physical team and an emotional stadium. We were strong from the beginning and deserved to win.

"We never dropped in concentration. We stayed very disciplined to avoid any chance of offensive transition. We did what we had to do at a very high level."

On Kovacic's injury, the Chelsea coach added: "It looks swollen and painful. It's the same ankle he had injured already. It doesn't look good."

Kovacic was involved in an exchange with Leeds supporters as he made his way off, with the strugglers' home stadium again proving anything but a fortress.

Leeds have lost nine games and conceded 37 goals at Elland Road this season, both their second-worst home returns in top-flight seasons (10 defeats in 1946-47, 46 goals conceded in 1959-60).

It allowed Chelsea to complete their first top-flight double over Leeds since 1936-37.

"I'm gutted," Jesse Marsch added. "We give up an early goal and go down a man again – deja vu from the Arsenal game – against a real big opponent."

Chelsea warmed up for Saturday's FA Cup final with a 3-0 win at 10-man Leeds United that edges Thomas Tuchel's side closer to Champions League qualification.

The world champions could have been forgiven for having one eye on their Wembley date with Liverpool, but they were in control and in the lead even before Dan James was sent off midway through the first half.

Dan James followed suspended team-mate Luke Ayling in earning a reckless red card, giving relegation-threatened Leeds a mountain to climb having already conceded to Mason Mount.

Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku subsequently wrapped up victory, moving Chelsea in third eight points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have three games to play.

A makeshift Leeds defence missing a natural full-back in Ayling's absence had been quickly exploited by Chelsea, whose first real foray brought the fourth-minute opener as Reece James teed up Mount for a fine finish high past Illan Meslier.

Staying at 1-0 longer than appeared likely at that stage, Leeds looked to have successfully seen out a spell of relentless Chelsea pressure when Dan James thundered into a challenge on Mateo Kovacic – winning the ball before planting his studs into the midfielder's ankle – and was dismissed.

Lukaku soon had a goal ruled out for offside and then directed a header just wide of the left-hand post as the visitors sought to capitalise.

They were made to wait until 10 minutes into the second half, when Mount's flick gave Pulisic space on the edge of the box to pick out the bottom-left corner.

Pulisic and Lukaku each fired narrowly wide, before the latter finally got his goal after patiently steadying himself in the area, with Leeds – already in the relegation zone on goal difference – surely grateful simply to avoid further damage.

What does it mean? Old foes heading in opposite directions

Chelsea may have endured a wobble prior to this match, but they will almost certainly be playing in the Champions League next term while Leeds may well be in the Championship.

Although Elland Road has not always been a happy hunting ground for the Blues – this was just their sixth league win at Leeds – it holds no fear for visiting sides this season. The Whites have now conceded 37 home league goals this season, only once previously (46 in 1959-60) shipping more in a top-flight campaign.

Leeds lose their heads... again

Leeds surpassed Sunderland's single-season record for Premier League yellow cards at Arsenal, but their lack of discipline was most evident in Ayling's awful lunge on Gabriel Martinelli. Sadly, Jesse Marsch's men did not appear to learn from that incident, with Dan James similarly rash on Kovacic.

While the Chelsea man must hope for a swift recovery to be fit for the cup final, Leeds become the first Premier League team to earn 100 cards in a single season and just the eighth side to have a player sent off in the first half of consecutive matches. Far from ideal in the thick of a relegation battle.

Magnificent Mount tops the charts

This was the seventh career Premier League match in which Mount has provided both a goal and an assist – three of which have come since the start of March – and boosted him to 11 goals and 10 assists for the season.

Those 21 top-flight goal involvements, topping Mount's previous career high of 12, are the joint-most of all English players in the division in 2021-22 (also Harry Kane).

What's next?

Chelsea's focus turns to Liverpool at Wembley, by which point they could be sure of a top-four finish if Tottenham do not beat Arsenal on Thursday. Leeds host Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

Thomas Tuchel has denied he was punishing his Chelsea stars when he called them in for training on their planned Sunday off.

There have been reports of unrest in the Chelsea dressing room, and a 2-2 draw with Wolves on Saturday was a sickener for the Blues after they led 2-0 heading into the final 12 minutes.

Chelsea face Leeds United in the Premier League on Wednesday, before tackling Liverpool in the FA Cup final on Sunday.

It is a huge week for the club, and Tuchel decided they should forfeit a day off for the sake of squad togetherness.

Head coach Tuchel said: "We came in. We planned a free day, but after the disappointment it was not even to punish them.

"Maybe some felt like it was a punishment, but it wasn't, because it was not the moment for a free day. I explained that it's better to be together and talk about it than to go [away] and everyone has his own opinion and everybody has his own truth, and you have maybe more risks to be in fragments than to be here."

He said Chelsea took part in "very light" training, and "spent time together discussing things how we wanted to approach the next days".

Tuchel says his job is becoming more demanding by the day as the club's ownership saga plays out.

Chelsea have agreed to terms for the sale of the club to an ownership group led by Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss for £4.25billion.

The Boehly-led consortium promises investment of £1.75bn into the club and is expected to be completed later this month, but for now Tuchel has his hands tied.

He can make plans for the transfer window and next season but cannot act on them, while the transition of ownership from Roman Abramovich to the new group runs its course.

Tuchel said the deal could "inject some positive energy", but he has yet to speak to Boehly and said the current circumstances are "quite challenging".

Asked if the sale process had been unsettling, Tuchel said: "It has, for sure. There's no sense in hiding from the fact it is a distraction.

"The players want to feel competitive; they want to know what's going on next season. A player like Toni [Antonio Rudiger] decided then to change the club. Every day it gets a bit more difficult. It had an influence and still we are looking to reach the level where we are competitive and can win games.

"It's no excuse, but it is a reason."

With oligarch Abramovich sanctioned by the UK government over alleged close links to Russian president Vladimir Putin, which Abramovich denies, there will be many relieved when the new owners get their deal across the line.

"At the moment it's a positive sign," Tuchel said. "It feels like it will come to an end and give us possibilities to act, but at the moment it's not like this."

Erling Haaland is "destined to be one of the best players in the world" ahead of an anticipated move to Manchester City, says Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch.

A move to the Premier League champions for the Borussia Dortmund striker at the end of the season will reportedly be confirmed this week, ending a prolonged saga of speculation over his future.

Marsch has first-hand experience of working with Haaland, having previously coached the Norway international – who was coincidentally born in Leeds – during their time together at Salzburg.

Speaking ahead of the Whites' clash with Chelsea on Wednesday, the American coach predicted bigger things are to come from Haaland and joked that he should have gone to Elland Road instead.

"Erling Haaland is destined to be one of the best players in the world," Marsch told his pre-match media conference. "It's his quality, but it is also his talent.

"I wish he was coming back home to Leeds... but I understand the decision for him to go to Man City.

"It will be interesting. He's an explosive player in transition and Man City often play a lot in possession. He can play any style of play.

"Certainly, I believe it makes Man City – one of, if not the best team in the world – even better. So credit to them for getting that done.

"I always wish the best for Erling, he's an incredible human being."

Marsch also commented on the tough run his own side now faces to survive in the Premier League, with Leeds' destiny effectively out of their own hands.

Everton are a point ahead with a game in hand while Burnley are level on points, albeit with a vastly superior goal difference, and need only to match the results of their rivals to survive.

"We knew coming into these three matches with City, Arsenal and Chelsea that it was going to be very, very difficult to pick up points," Marsch added.

"So it's proved to be that, just like we knew it was, and we still have so much to play for. So our focus is really on controlling every moment and being prepared for every moment.

"Credit to Burnley and Everton. In a difficult moment they've also fought for their lives and done whatever's possible to claw their way back into this situation, and we'll do the same."

Raphinha has been a bright spark for Leeds United as they have battled relegation from the Premier League this season.

Following the weekend's results, the Whites are in huge danger of going down after they dropped into the bottom three. As is the case in football, the vultures will circle in that eventuality.

The Brazil international has long been on the list of targets for Barcelona and the winger looks likely to move on at the end of the season, when Leeds could find themselves back in the Championship.

 

TOP STORY – LEEDS RELEGATION TO SPEED UP RAFINHA'S BARCELONA MOVE

Leeds United's potential relegation from the Premier League could help force Raphinha's move to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Even if Ousmane Dembele signs a new contract, the Catalan giants are keen to land another winger.

While Dembele's future has reportedly depended on Barcelona's qualification for the Champions League, the desire to sign Raphinha has been clear regardless. 

Leeds' relegation would reportedly allow the the 25-year-old to leave for €25million (£21.4m), though there is no clause in his contract that establishes an exact price.

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal's bid to sign Lautaro Martinez could be scuppered with Inter Milan not looking to sell the 24-year-old, per the Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester City's deal with Borussia Dortmund for Erling Haaland could be finalised and announced next week, the Sun is reporting.

- Liverpool are ahead of Real Madrid and Chelsea in the race to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni , according to Marca.

- Bayern Munich are preparing to begin talks with RB Leipzig over midfielder Konrad Laimer , Fabrizio Romano reports.

Manchester City regaining the Premier League title is not a foregone conclusion yet, despite Pep Guardiola's side moving three points clear of Liverpool on Sunday.

That is according to Manchester United great Gary Neville, who believes the injury to centre-back Ruben Dias in City's 5-0 rout of Newcastle United offers hope to Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

Liverpool were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham on Saturday, before a Raheem Sterling double inspired City to a comfortable victory the following day.

City furthered their advantage with three games to play and also boast a better goal difference than Liverpool, whose 64 is four fewer than Guardiola's side.

However, Neville – speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast – insisted the title race is not over yet as City face challenging trips to West Ham and Wolves, and a home clash with Aston Villa to secure the championship.

"I do believe Wolves or West Ham could shock Manchester City," he said. 

"With Ruben Dias injured, they are going to teams who have got systems of play that can hurt City. Both teams have had good seasons. They are awkward. City will need to be at their best.

"The centre-back partnership has been obliterated. The injury is a boost for Liverpool's chances. I do think there is something left in this title race. It won't go plain sailing to the end.

"If City get through the next two, they'll win it. Wolves or West Ham have to pull points off City but it's not over.

"If Liverpool had to pick two away games to send City to it probably would be Arsenal and Tottenham, but after that it would be West Ham and Wolves.

"Manchester United have gone and Chelsea have dropped their levels. There is a lot to play for. It's good for the league that Liverpool are playing first and can get level.

"I don't think Liverpool will drop points. They will do their job.

"Whoever finishes first or second you won't say the other one has blown it or bottled it. These two teams never disappoint with their work-rate or attitude. Being professional and preparing well is a permanent thing.

"These two teams do it so well. They care about their work, their attitude, their ethos. It's constant. Under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, it's been faultless."

At the other end of the table, Leeds United slipped into the relegation zone for the first time since October after their 2-1 loss to Arsenal and Everton's 2-1 win at Leicester City.

Neville acknowledged Jesse Marsch's Leeds are now the favourites to go down alongside Watford and Norwich City, especially after Luke Ayling's mindless dismissal meant he will miss the rest of the season.

"I fear for Leeds I really do," he added. "They are favourites to go down. Everything that could go wrong, Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling, the spirit and energy of the club, is not there. They are massive players. What Ayling has done will cost them.

"We'll see what happens. But we've got a title race, a good top-four race and a compelling yet awful relegation battle.

"The desperation of going down. And the financial loss is too great. That drop is enormous and a club is going to suffer it. We hear rumours of Burnley paying a £65million loan back, imagine the losses that Everton would suffer and there will be lots of losses at Leeds too.

"It's going to be awful. I've heard the difference between staying up and going down for a Premier League club is £120m of cash they'd have to put in if they didn't sell any players. It's not pocket change.

"That can't be right that the cliff edge is so steep. The fall is so big. But that's the Premier League."

Manchester City edged closer to the Premier League title, while there was significant change at the bottom of the table on Sunday.

City were eliminated from the Champions League semi-finals in dramatic fashion by Real Madrid in midweek, but saw their domestic hopes boosted when Liverpool dropped points against Tottenham on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side subsequently breezed past Newcastle United to move three points clear of the Reds with three games remaining, while West Ham hit relegated Norwich City for four.

Elsewhere, Arsenal continued their charge for Champions League qualification with a narrow victory over 10-man Leeds United, who ended the day in the relegation zone after Everton triumphed at Leicester City.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the Opta data from the day's top-flight fixtures.

Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United: Sterling provides as title charge continues 

Raheem Sterling was at the double as City strengthened their grasp on top spot with a 5-0 rout of Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling and Aymeric Laporte struck in the first half, with Joao Cancelo teeing up the England international's opener as the full-back became the fourth of Guardiola's players to reach 10 assists in all competitions this season (also Kevin de Bruyne with 13, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus - both 11).

City are the only team in Europe's big five leagues to have four or more different players reach 10 assists in all competitions this campaign, and Guardiola's men furthered their advantage after the interval.

Rodri then scored following a corner, as Laporte did in the first half, as City managed their 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this term in the league, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the Premier League since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

Foden added a fourth before Sterling capped a fine victory with his 51st Premier League goal at the Etihad, becoming only the second player to pass 50 strikes for City at home in the competition after Sergio Aguero (106).

City have beaten Newcastle 28 times in the Premier League (D8 L8), more than they have any other side in the competition. In their league history, they have only beaten Everton (72 times) more often than the Magpies (68 times).

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe has lost all 12 of his Premier League meetings with City – 10 of those against Guardiola – the worst 100 per cent losing record a manager has against a single opponent or against another boss in the competition.

Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United: Ill-tempered Whites fall into relegation zone

An Eddie Nketiah double kept Arsenal on course for Champions League qualification as they triumphed 2-1 against 10-man Leeds, who dropped into the bottom three for the first time since October 30.

Nketiah fired the Gunners into a 2-0 lead as he became just the second Arsenal player to score twice in the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League game after Kanu (versus Sunderland in October 2002).

With Alexandre Lacazette out of favour, Nketiah has stepped up as Mikel Arteta's talisman, scoring four goals in his last four league games – just one fewer than he had managed in his first 52 top-flight appearances.

Luke Ayling was then dismissed for a mindless two-footed lunge on Gabriel Martinelli after 27 minutes, Leeds' earliest red card in the competition since April 1998 (when Lucas Radebe saw red after 17 minutes against Everton).

Tempers continued to flare before the interval as Leeds picked up their 95th and 96th yellow cards of the season, setting a new record for the most bookings for a club within a single Premier League campaign.

Diego Llorente offered Jesse Marsch's visitors brief hope as he poked home with Leeds' first shot on target, which marked the first home league goal Arsenal have conceded from a corner since February 2021 (also against Leeds).

However, Arsenal held on for victory to move four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face on Thursday knowing victory will secure Champions League football next campaign.

Leicester City 1-2 Everton: Toffees move out of bottom three

Mason Holgate's second-half header proved the difference as Everton climbed out of the relegation zone with a battling 2-1 victory at Leicester.

Before this game, Leicester had won eight of their last nine top-flight matches against sides starting the day inside the relegation zone (D1), but the Foxes were caught cold by Vitalii Mykolenko's early volley.

That made Mykolenko the first Ukrainian to score a Premier League goal for Everton, the 39th different nationality to find the net in the competition for the Toffees, the sixth most of all clubs.

Patson Daka restored parity five minutes later, with all five of the striker's Premier League goals coming at the King Power Stadium – only Jamie Vardy (6) has netted more often at home for the club in the top-flight in 2021-22.

Holgate delivered the decisive finish in the 30th minute with his second league goal in his last five matches, one more than he had managed across his previous 109 top-flight appearances beforehand (one).

Brendan Rodgers will be left frustrated by the nature of Holgate's goal, given it was the 15th Premier League strike Leicester have conceded from a corner this campaign – the most by a side in a single campaign since Brighton and Hove Albion in 2017-18 (16).

Victory marked the first away league win in 15 games for Everton, ending a seven-game losing streak on the road as Frank Lampard's side moved a point clear of Leeds and Burnley having played one game fewer.

Norwich City 0-4 West Ham: Bowen and Benrahma on song to down Canaries

Said Benrahma scored twice as West Ham responded to Thursday's Europa League semi-final heartbreak by cruising past relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road.

Benrahma struck after 12 minutes before Michail Antonio ended his joint-longest goal drought in the top-flight with his fifth Premier League strike against the Canaries, only against Tottenham (six) has he scored more in the competition. 

Algeria international Benrahma doubled his tally before the interval, taking him to 21 direct goal contributions in the competition (nine goals, 12 assists). Since his debut in 2020, Jarrod Bowen (30) and Antonio (28) are the only other Hammers to register 20+ top-flight goal involvements.

Bowen assisted both of Benrahma's strikes as the former Hull City man became just the second player for West Ham to register at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a Premier League season, and the first since Paolo Di Canio in 1999-00 (16 goals, 13 assists).

Indeed, only Harry Kane (32) has been involved in more goals among English Premier League players in all competitions than Bowen this season (27 – 16 goals, 11 assists).

Manuel Lanzini's second-half penalty rounded off the victory as West Ham won a Premier League away game by at least a four-goal margin for just the third time, while it was the first time the Hammers have put at least four goals past a side in consecutive league visits since doing so against Tottenham in November 1966.

Meanwhile, Norwich have failed to score in 20 different league games this season, becoming the first side to do so in at least 20 matches in three different Premier League campaigns (also in 1994-95 and 2019-20).

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal will have "an extra level of motivation" when they face Tottenham on Thursday knowing a victory would seal Champions League qualification.

The Gunners extended their winning run to four Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, seeing off 10-man Leeds United 2-1 to go four points clear of Spurs.

Eddie Nketiah punished Illan Meslier's early howler to open the scoring and the striker doubled Arsenal's lead with a clinical finish only 10 minutes in.

Things went from bad to worse for Leeds in a nightmare first half when Luke Ayling was sent off for a reckless two-footed lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.

Diego Llorente pulled a goal back in the second half, but Leeds dropped into the relegation zone as Arsenal strengthened their grip on fourth place with three games to play.

A North London derby win will guarantee them a place in the Champions League next season and the Spaniard is determined to make it mission accomplished in the home of their fierce rivals.

The Arsenal boss said: "We want to prepare and go for that match like we always do, with the same enthusiasm, but knowing obviously that this can be a defining moment and that’s an extra level of motivation and another layer for us to really go for it and I can't wait to play that game."

It appeared that Arsenal could run riot even before Whites captain Ayling was sent off and Arteta felt his side made hard work of securing three precious points two days after he signed a new contract.

Asked if they made seeing out the win more difficult than it ought to have been, he replied: "Yes, considering the way that we started I think we were electric, so determined, so incisive, we scored two good goals, created chances and didn’t allow anything to happen around our box.

"And after that, obviously, the red card presents a different match where they change completely their behaviour and how they set up and we have to manage the game in a different way.

"I think for a lot of phases we did well, but we needed to score the third goal and we had the chances to do so and then the accident happen when the first time that they were through at a set-piece we conceded a goal and it's game on and some nerves have to handled."

Arteta, who revealed Ben White is poised to return at Tottenham, says spirits are understandably high in the Arsenal dressing room but they know there is work to do.

"Really good, really positive, but at the same time really humble," he said of the mood in the camp. "We know that nothing has been achieved yet and still a lot of things and a lot of minutes to play to do what we want to achieve."

Jesse Marsch vowed his Leeds United side will "fight for our lives" after dropping into the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-1 loss to Arsenal on Sunday.

Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier gifted Eddie Nketiah an early opener, and the Arsenal striker, who spent 2019-20 on loan at Elland Road, added a second with just 10 minutes played.

The visitors inflicted more damage on themselves after 27 minutes when Luke Ayling, making the 500th appearance of his career, was sent off for lunging in on Gabriel Martinelli.

Diego Llorente did manage to pull one back through Leeds' first effort on target in the 66th minute, but they were ultimately left with too much to do.

A second loss in a row for Leeds, coupled with Everton's 2-1 win at Leicester City, means they will end the day in the bottom three for the first time since October 30.

Leeds have spent 16 days in the relegation zone this – five fewer than Arsenal, who made a poor start to the season with three defeats in a row.

Marsch accepts Leeds were victims of their own mistakes at Emirates Stadium but is hopeful his side will respond in their remaining three fixtures.

"I think we had a really bad start and dug a hole for ourselves, which we didn't need to," Marsch, who succeeded Marcelo Bielsa in late February, told BBC Sport. 

"At half-time we talked about keeping our composure and treating the game like it was 0-0. That's what we did.

"We are in a difficult situation. We have to regroup and figure out what we can do. Our backs are against the wall. We are in the relegation zone, but we have to fight for our lives.

"When I arrived two months ago I knew this wasn't going to be easy. The group's stayed strong. Our second-half performance highlights the character of the people we have.

"The fans and the support at this club is unreal. We want to put a performance on the pitch that honours that support."

With their 95th and 96th yellow cards of the season, Leeds set a record for the most bookings for a club in a single Premier League campaign.

They now host Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion in successive home games before travelling to Brentford on the final day of the season.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have won four successive league games while conceding at least once each time for the first time since a run of five in February and March 2012.

Following Tottenham's 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday, the Gunners now hold a four-point lead over their fierce rivals in the battle for fourth place.

Should Arsenal make it five top-flight wins a row by beating Spurs on Thursday, they will secure a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.

"We know that, and we have earned the right to play that game in that context," Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who signed a contract extension this week, told BBC Sport. 

"Winning any match is extremely difficult. We are going to prepare for the game as best as we can.

"We started extremely well today and were determined, creating chance after chance. And then playing against 10 men it is always more complicated.

"We controlled the game really well. It became nervy, and you start to defend that result."

Eddie Nketiah was non-committal over his future after his double consigned 10-man Leeds United to a 2-1 defeat and moved Arsenal a step closer to qualifying for the Champions League.

Nketiah pounced on a howler from Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier to open the scoring and added a second goal only 10 minutes into the Premier League encounter at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Luke Ayling was sent off for a reckless lunge on Gabriel Martinelli just 27 minutes in, and although Diego Llorente pulled one back in the second half, his close-range strike was in vain.

A fourth win in a row moved the Gunners four points clear of fierce rivals Tottenham with three games to play in the battle for a top-four finish ahead of a huge north London derby on Thursday.

Nketiah is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and the in-form striker, who has been linked with Crystal Palace, gave little away when asked about his future after plunging his former club Leeds into the relegation zone.

He told Sky Sports: "It's a great atmosphere throughout the whole season, it's been excellent.

"You really feel the connection between the players and the fans, it's amazing to be involved."

Nketiah's opportunities have been limited this season, but he has four goals in as many games after scoring twice in a recent victory at Chelsea.

The 22-year-old is relishing the chance to show what he is capable of as Mikel Arteta's side strive to seal a return to the premier club competition in Europe.

He said: "Any player just wants to be playing and get the opportunities. I've worked hard throughout the season to make sure that I was ready when I get my chance, and credit to my team-mates for helping me play and do well. I'm just happy in the team and helping."

Arsenal will be guaranteed a Champions League place if they beat Spurs in their own backyard, while Leeds are in the bottom three following Everton's 2-1 win at Leicester City.

Eddie Nketiah scored twice against his former club as Arsenal remained on course for the Champions League and plunged 10-man Leeds United into the relegation zone with a 2-1 win.

Nketiah capitalised on an Illan Meslier error to put the Gunners in front and added a second just 10 minutes into the Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Leeds suffered another massive blow when captain Luke Ayling marked the 500th appearance of his career by getting sent off for a reckless first-half lunge on Gabriel Martinelli with only 27 minutes played.

Diego Llorente pulled a goal back in the second half, but Arsenal moved four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham and Jesse Marsch's side dropped into the bottom three after Everton won at Leicester City.

Meslier gifted Arsenal the lead in the fifth minute, taking a heavy touch from Ayling's back pass to present Nketiah with a tap-in.

Nketiah doubled the Gunners' advantage five minutes later, finishing clinically with his left foot from close to the penalty spot after the excellent Martinelli picked him out with a cutback from the byline.

A nightmare start for Leeds took another huge turn for the worse when Ayling was given his marching orders for a mindless challenge, referee Chris Kavanagh whipping out a red card following a VAR check after initially booking the defender.

Llorente cleared off the line late in the first half and Martinelli forced a save from Meslier following the restart before blazing over the crossbar, with Leeds on the ropes.

Arsenal were coasting, but Llorente gave Leeds a lifeline when Junior Firpo flicked on a corner from the left and Llorente was on hand to tuck home with his right foot at the back post.

Martin Odegaard spurned a chance to restore Arsenal's two-goal advantage when he cut inside and drilled a left-foot drive just wide, but Nketiah's double extended the Gunners' winning run to four games.

Mikel Arteta believes his new contract will clear up any doubts over Arsenal's future direction and be a major factor in the club's recruitment and retention drive.

The manager has committed to a two-year contract extension at Emirates Stadium, with his previous deal having run to the end of next season.

It means he is now set to stay at Arsenal until 2025, ensuring stability at the club.

Arteta revealed a number of Arsenal stars had been asking him about his future before he committed to an extended stay, with the announcement coming from the club on Friday.

Asked when the players learned the news, Arteta said: "They found out this morning. Some of them had been asking me in the last few months because they had questions about their individual futures.

"I want zero distraction about that. It's clear for the future."

Arsenal sit fourth in the Premier League and are looking to lock down a top-four finish to ensure a return to the Champions League, having last featured in that competition in the 2016-17 season.

They face Leeds United on Sunday, with Arteta hoping a feel-good factor can carry Arsenal towards their goals.

"I'm delighted, because from both sides we have shown a real commitment of what we want to do together in this beautiful journey," he said of his new deal.

"The plans and the vision that we shared are the reason why I'm doing it, and I think the club is doing it because we share the same belief, the same passion, and the same level of trust about each other and how we're doing it, and I'm really excited about what we can do together."

Speaking in a news conference, Arteta said: "The club was so decisive and committed to do it now.

"They wanted to bring clarity starting from ownership about what we were doing and show the stability and commitment to the project, and don't have to worry in the summer about any of that. When we want to recruit players or keep the players we want, they can see a clear path in the future and there is no question mark.

"I'm extremely happy here, and this job is still a lot to do."

Arteta indicated he was offered his new deal after the run of losses to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton in April.

That has been followed by wins over Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham, and now lowly Leeds await, with Jesse Marsch's team battling to avoid sliding into the Championship.

The Emirates Stadium clash is therefore a high-stakes affair for both sides.

"It's a lot to play for, and obviously the situation they are in, they're going to show how much they want to get out of that zone as quick as possible," Arteta said.

"For us, it's the defining moment in the season, after everything we've done, so we want to capitalise on what we've done in the last nine or 10 months."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola asserted that his side's Premier League title destiny is in their hands, and they will need to remain consistent to ward off Liverpool.

City remain a point clear of Liverpool after both sides won their respective games against Leeds and Newcastle.

Guardiola's side took the lead via Rodri in the 13th minute at Elland Road before going on to win 4-0, moving to 83 points with four games remaining.

While the 51-year-old respects the gravity of the situation, he believes the equation is ultimately simple for City – keep winning, because Liverpool will push them.

"It's in our hands," Guardiola said post-match. “Wolves, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa. We win (them all), we will be champions. We drop points, Liverpool will be champions.

“We know exactly what we need to do - win our games.

“Still it is a privilege and an honour to try win back-to-back titles and four Premier Leagues in five years.

“Right now it's not too much complicated, they are going to win their games.”

Despite the scoreline, City's win was not necessarily routine, eventually doubling the margin through Nathan Ake from a set piece.

Asked whether the characteristically boisterous atmosphere at Elland Road compared to those they face in Europe, Guardiola added he was impressed by how the relegation-threatened Leeds were supported.

It meant his side had to display character to eventually see the game out.

“I don’t want to compare or I’ll be in trouble," Guardiola joked. “Since I arrived in England, I heard about Elland Road - last year it was behind closed doors, today i experienced it and why it’s so special.

“Fighting to stay in the Premier League – singing, chanting and how the people get behind them. Leeds is one of greatest teams in England, and I have sympathy for the fans. I said today it would be hard.

“We stuck together and in the end it’s important to close that (goal difference) gap a little more.”

The Premier League witnessed drama at both ends of the table on an absorbing Saturday, as Manchester City and Liverpool continued to trade blows in the title race.

Jurgen Klopp's men downed in-form Newcastle United thanks to Naby Keita's first-half strike, before City responded by cruising to a 4-0 thrashing of Leeds United at Elland Road.

At the other end of the table, Norwich City were condemned to a record sixth Premier League relegation at Aston Villa, and Watford look destined to join them after Burnley continued their incredible upturn in form at Vicarage Road.

After another frantic day of action, Stats Perform looks at some of the key Opta facts from Saturday's contests.

Newcastle United 0-1 Liverpool: Keita continues Reds' run

Liverpool's bid for a remarkable quadruple faced a tough test when they travelled to Eddie Howe's in-form Newcastle in the first clash of the day.

However, Naby Keita's 19th-minute goal proved the difference in a competitive encounter, and was Liverpool's earliest winning goal in a 1-0 Premier League victory since December 2016, when Georginio Wijnaldum netted after eight minutes against Manchester City.

Klopp's side had chances to extend their lead, with home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka making nine saves, his highest tally in a single Premier League match. Since 2003-04, when Opta data began, the only Newcastle goalkeepers to make more saves in a Premier League game are Tim Krul (14 against Tottenham in November 2013) and Karl Darlow (11 against Tottenham in September 2020).

However, a 21st clean sheet of Liverpool's league campaign was enough to move them to the top of the table - only in 2005-06 (22) have the Reds kept more shutouts in a single Premier League campaign.

Liverpool have now picked up 40 points from the last 42 on offer in the competition, and the win turned up the pressure on City ahead of their trip to Leeds later on Saturday.

Leeds United 0-4 Manchester City: Visitors draw on set-peice prowess to reclaim top spot

The Reds were not top of the table for long, however, as City claimed a 4-0 win over relegation-threatened Leeds at Elland Road. Goals from Rodri and Nathan Ake both came from set pieces, meaning City have now scored 18 set-piece goals (excluding penalties) this season, their most in a Premier League campaign since 2013-14 (22).

Pep Guardiola's men have also kept five consecutive away league clean sheets, the best such sequence in the club's history.

After Gabriel Jesus had made the points safe, Fernandinho stuck a superb fourth goal late on, becoming the club's oldest ever Premier League goalscorer at 36 years and 361 days old, overtaking Frank Lampard in 2015 (36 years and 338 days old).

Leeds, meanwhile, are looking over their shoulders after another heavy defeat. They have conceded a remarkable 20 league goals against the two Manchester clubs this season (11 against City, nine against Manchester United) – a new top-flight record for goals conceded against the duo in a single season.

Watford 1-2 Burnley: Clarets' revival continues after Cork ends barren run

Elsewhere, Burnley continued their incredible revival by coming from behind to defeat Watford, making Mike Jackson the first Clarets boss to win three of his first four league games in charge since Jimmy Mullen won his first four in 1991.

After James Tarkowski's own-goal put Watford ahead, Jack Cork ended his run of 84 Premier League games without a goal with his first strike since December 2018 (against Liverpool), before Josh Brownhill scored a late winner.

The Clarets are now five points above the bottom three after winning three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April 2019, having won just three of their previous 21 games.

Roy Hodgson's Watford, meanwhile, look destined for relegation after becoming the first side in English top-flight history to lose 11 consecutive home league matches.

Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City: Canaries suffer another relegation at Villa Park

Burnley's win had other ramifications, contributing to Norwich suffering their sixth relegation from the Premier League – the most of any club in the competition's history – after the Canaries were beaten at Villa Park.

Remarkably, Norwich have been relegated in each of their last four Premier League seasons (2013-14, 2015-16, 2019-20 and 2021-22). They are only the second side in English league history to suffer relegation in four consecutive campaigns in the top-flight, after Crystal Palace (1992-93, 1994-95, 1997-98 and 2004-05).

 

Dean Smith's men saw their fate sealed after becoming the first team to concede 70 Premier League goals this season after just 34 games, representing the earliest point in any league campaign they have reached 70 concessions since 1956-57 (in their 34th game in the old Third Division South).

Ollie Watkins set the tone for Villa's win with his first-half strike, and he has now scored at least 11 more goals than any other Villa player since his September 2020 debut (25 goals in all competitions).

Pep Guardiola insisted he is enjoying the pressure that comes with Manchester City's bid for the Premier League and Champions League titles after his team thrashed Leeds United 4-0.

Rodri and Nathan Ake converted from set pieces to put City in control of their Premier League clash at Elland Road, as the visitors reached 18 set-piece goals in the league this season (excluding penalties) – the highest tally in the competition.

Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho added some gloss to the scoreline late on as City returned to the Premier League summit, having been overtaken by Liverpool after the Reds' 1-0 win over Newcastle United earlier on Saturday. 

City are now unbeaten in eight league games, while title rivals Liverpool have dropped just two points in their last 14 games in the competition, but Guardiola insisted he was relishing the pressure of the title race after securing an "incredible" victory.

"I prefer to feel the pressure than to not feel it! It means we have a chance to do it," he told Sky Sports. 

"It's a long season but now it's the last effort, we have a final in Madrid in four days and after, the last four games of the Premier League.

"Today was so important, you know, to make our chances to be champions alive again.

"We suffered a lot in the first half, but after the second goal we had control and we could have scored more goals. It's an incredible result for us, so important. 

"We defended well, sometimes set pieces are so important, with Nathan Ake on the pitch we are really strong. What a game [Aymeric] Laporte played. He played an incredible game. We have five games, potentially six [if City make the Champions League final], to end the season."

In completing their first league double over Leeds since 1981-82 – a season that saw the Yorkshire club relegated from the top flight – City recorded their fifth successive away clean sheet in the Premier League.

That sequence represents the longest such run in City's history, and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan said the team overcame a "huge test" in their quest for consecutive Premier League titles.

"Leeds started with a lot of intensity and made our lives difficult," Gundogan added. "Obviously the first goal helped us a lot, but still in the first half they were more than in the game.

"After the second we were able to move the ball better, quicker, and create more chances. At the end of the day, it was a very good result for us."

City and Liverpool have set a relentless pace in another absorbing race between the duo, and Gundogan echoed his manager's sentiments in claiming the players were enjoying the pressure that competition brings.

"It's only as tough as you make it, we are all competitors, and we need to be able to manage these kinds of situations," he said. "It's normal that sometimes they will play first and sometimes we're going to play first.

"But the pressure is always on, and the responsibility is always there to win all the games. It looks like both teams might not struggle until the end, that's what we want obviously, and every game is a final."

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