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Arsenal title odds sliced again as they move SEVEN points clear at the top

Arsenal extend lead at the top to seven points after latest win

Arsenal win again to extend their lead at the top© PA

Kevin PalmerSunday World

AT what point can Arsenal be hailed as Premier League title favourites?

That moment may soon be approaching after this latest thrilling win ensured Mikel Arteta’s side head into 2023 with a massive SEVEN point lead at the top of the table, after a six-goal thriller at the AMEX Stadium brought down the curtain on another Premier League year.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring after just 65 seconds before Martin Odegaard doubled Arsenal’s advantage with Eddie Nketiah adding a third shortly after the interval.

Kaoru Mitoma pulled one back for the Seagulls before Gabriel Martinelli grabbed Arsenal’s fourth.

Irish teenager Evan Ferguson scored a second for the home side, but Mikel Arteta’s side saw out the the final Premier League fixture of 2022 to record another victory.

Ferguson, who hails from Bettystown in Meath, was among the goals in this end-of-year classic on the English south coast, with the 18-year-old snatching his first Premier League goal as Brighton threatened to stage an improbable comeback.

Yet the strike for teenager Ferguson will only be a footnote to a game that confirmed Arsenal’s title credentials are real as they continue to dominate at the top of the table.

"It is a great opportunity we have - a great place we have put ourselves in,” said Saka.

“We are not focussing on that now. We are focussing on the next game because we know how well Newcastle have been playing.

"Of course at the start of the season if you asked us if we wanted this we would bite your hand off. We are really happy."

Evan Ferguson© Action Images via Reuters

All the pressure was on Arsenal after Manchester City dropped points in a 1-1 draw against Everton earlier in the afternoon.

Yet Gunners came out firing at Brighton, with Saka’s goal after 66 seconds confirming this Arsenal side are embracing the opportunity they have created for themselves after a flying start to the season.

Arsenal are only the eighth team in the history of England’s top division to have collected 40 or more points after 15 games of a season.

Of the teams that achieved that have broken the 40-point barrier so quickly, only one failed to go on to win the title.

That was Ron Atkinson’s Manchester United’s in the 1984/85 team, who blew up in the second half of the campaign to blow their title dreams.

Yet this Arsenal team does not look ready to follow that lead, as they look to be embracing the challenge in from of them.

The bookies may still have Manchester City as the title favourites, but this Arsenal team are putting them onto the ropes in a fashion that has to worry Pep Guardiola and his champions.

For a side that has no experience of feeling the heat applied to teams in a title challenge, this could have been a night when Arsenal’s players fluffed their lines.

Yet with each and every victory, Arteta’s side chip away at the notion they lack stomach to seize the moment.

Oleksandr Zinchenko replaced Kieran Tierney in the only change to Arsenal’s starting line-up for the visit to Brighton.

And they eased any nerves with an early goal after the unmarked Saka slotted home from close range following Gabriel Martinelli’s blocked effort.

Arsenal doubled their lead shortly before half-time when Martin Odegaard found the net following a partially-cleared corner from the right.

This was all too easy for Arsenal against opponents that took four points off them in their two Premier League clashes last season.

Any thoughts Brighton had of a second half comeback were snuffed out as Nketiah poached Arsenal’s third from close range, with this game over as a contest after just 47 minutes.

Brighton pulled a goal back with 65 minutes on the clock through Kaoru Mitoma, but Arsenal’s dominance was confirmed as Martin Odegaard played a brilliant ball from inside his own half to send Martinelli in on goal and he applied a classy finish.

Ferguson’s goal was a triumph for his grit and determination as he bundled the ball home, but this game has already been won by the team threatening to take the title away from a faltering Manchester City.

No side has been seven or more points clear on New Year’s Day and failed to go on to lift the Premier League title.

So Arsenal will be making a variety of history in the second half of this season, with Arteta and his players hoping they don’t become the first team to blow such a sizeable lead at the top of the table.

Paddy Power were quick to trim Arsenal’s title odds again after another dramatic afternoon of twists in the title race, with the Gunners now just 11/10 to win the title behind 4/5 favourites Manchester City.

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