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Havertz scores late winner as Arsenal beats Brentford 2-1 to go top of Premier League overnight

LONDON (AP) — Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League for at least a day after Kai Havertz’s late goal secured a 2-1 win over Brentford on Saturday.

Havertz had been somewhat fortunate to avoid a second booking for a dive in the area earlier in the second half, a decision that proved crucial when he was on hand to head home a cross from Ben White in the 86th minute.

That extended Arsenal’s Premier League winning streak to eight games in 2024 and atoned for a howler by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale that had gifted Brentford an equalizer just before the halftime break.

It also lifted Mikel Arteta’s side above Liverpool and Manchester City into first place, one point ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side. Liverpool hosts Man City at Anfield on Sunday and a draw in that game would keep Arsenal top on goal difference.

“Massive win for us,” Havertz said. “It wasn’t nice, especially after conceding so close to the (halftime) whistle. We spoke to each other and wanted to turn it around.”

Arsenal had been on a stellar scoring run, netting a combined 21 goals in its last four league games but couldn’t quite replicate that attacking prowess against Brentford despite taking the lead when Declan Rice headed home another cross from White in the 19th.

Arsenal continued to dominate but Ramsdale’s mistake in first-half injury time gave Brentford an equalizer out of nothing. The goalkeeper, who was given a rare start because Arsenal’s regular No. 1 David Raya is on loan from Brentford, dawdled on the ball and allowed Yoane Wissa to slide in and block his clearance so that the ball looped into the empty net.

Ramsdale made amends with two good saves in the second half, though. He was caught off his line in the 55th and nearly beaten by Ivan Toney from almost 40 yards but managed to swat the ball away while backtracking.

The goalkeeper showed his best side with a good one-handed save in the 71st to tip a header from Nathan Collins over the bar.

Arsenal then had another spell of heavy dominance and Rice hit the crossbar from long range in the 74th after being teed up by Odegaard following a corner.

The sustained pressure finally paid off when White picked out Havertz for the late winner that kept Arsenal’s title charge on track.

“Obviously we had to dig in and earn the right to win it. But I’m really pleased with the performance,” Arteta said. “If you want to be up there, you have to win these types of games.”

Brentford has now gone five games without a win, with four losses in that span, and sits just five points above the relegation zone.

Manager Thomas Frank lamented the decision to let Havertz stay on the field. The German was booked in the first half and then threw himself to the ground in the area after a challenge by Collins midway through the second, but referee Rob Jones opted not to show a second yellow card for diving.

“I actually don’t think Havertz should be on the pitch when he scored. It was a clear dive,” Frank said. “Maybe it is difficult for the ref but the linesman should have seen it.”


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