Saka sends Arsenal closer to Champions League return

BIRMINGHAM: Arsenal took another big step towards ending a five-year exile from the Champions League as Bukayo Saka’s strike beat Aston Villa 1-0 to open up a four-point lead in fourth in the Premier League.

The Gunners could even increase that gap with a game in hand over fifth-placed Manchester United and were well worthy of the three points against a toothless Villa despite the narrow scoreline.

“We are there with 10 games to go,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. “We have this feeling that we really want it, you can sense it and we’re going to give it a go.”

A run of 10 wins from their last 13 league games has propelled Arteta’s men to the front of the race to join Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the top four after getting off to their worst start to a league campaign in 67 years.

Arteta had complained about the tight turnaround his side faced after Wednesday’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

But there was no sign of tiredness from his young side Saturday as they penned Villa back for the opening 45 minutes.

“It was a tough first half because we allowed it to be tough,” said Villa boss Steven Gerrard.

“Our performance lacked belief. It wasn’t until half-time onwards we showed we could be better in the game.”

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