Arsenal took advantage of Manchester City again failing to win a New Year’s Eve game as the Gunners stormed seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.
A 4-2 win at Brighton and Hove Albion did the job for Arsenal after Pep Guardiola’s men were held 1-1 at home by Everton, meaning City remain winless in all five of their Premier League games played on December 31, drawing four and losing one.
Third-placed Newcastle United also took a stumble, drawing 0-0 at home against Leeds United in what was a league-high fourth goalless stalemate for the Magpies this season.
Elsewhere, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse became the fifth player to score an own goal and a direct free-kick in a Premier League game and the first since Gareth Bale for Tottenham against Liverpool in November 2012. The Saints were beaten 2-1 at Fulham.
Manchester United edged out Wolves at Molineux, thanks to Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game.
Guided by Opta data, Stats Perform takes a close look at some of the key statistics from the final Premier League games in 2022.
5 – Marcus Rashford has scored five match winning goals as a substitute, the joint most in Premier League history. Impact. pic.twitter.com/jzdet7hci8
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 31, 2022
Brighton and Hove Albion 2-4 Arsenal: Saka’s fast start sets the tone
Bukayo Saka put Mikel Arteta’s men ahead after just 66 seconds, the earliest away goal for the Gunners in the Premier League since May 2013, when Theo Walcott netted after just 20 seconds against QPR.
Captain Martin Odegaard (seven goals, five assists in his last 13 Premier League games), Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli struck to build on that early opener, before a late wobble saw Brighton threaten to make a game of it.
Arsenal are just the fifth side in English top-flight history to pick up 43 points or more from the first 16 games in a season (assuming three points for a win).
The others are Tottenham (46 pts in 1960-61), Chelsea (43 pts in 2005-06), Manchester City (46 pts in 2017-18) and Liverpool (46 pts in 2019-20). The connection between those sides is they each went on to be champions.
Brighton are struggling at home but have a bright prospect in Evan Ferguson, who at the age of 18 years and 73 days became the club’s youngest Premier League goalscorer when he grabbed the Seagulls’ second.
Newcastle United 0-0 Leeds United: Out of Toon, Howe’s team draw a blank
Newcastle ended the year with an outstanding 2022 record at St James’ Park, collecting 41 points from 18 games (W12 D5 L1), with only Liverpool (48) and Manchester City (44) accruing more points on home turf.
This result was a disappointment, but perhaps we should have seen it coming. Despite posting an expected goals (xG) total of 2.01, which confirms they had plenty of chances to take all three points, Newcastle have now not won their final league game in any of the last six calendar years (D5 L1) since beating Nottingham Forest 3-1 in the Championship in 2016.
Leeds, scrapping to stay out of trouble in the bottom half, are unbeaten in four consecutive away league games against Newcastle for the first time (W1 D3), and their haul of four points from their last three trips away from Elland Road matches their total from their previous seven road games (W1 D1 L5).
Manchester City 1-1 Everton: Gray day as Haaland strike is not enough
This looked like being a familiar story when Erling Haaland fired City ahead in the 24th minute, but Demarai Gray’s fine second-half leveller rescued a point for lowly Everton.
The result means reigning champions City, who were stunned 2-1 on home soil by Brentford before the World Cup break, have gone consecutive home games without picking up a win for the first time since losing to Leeds and Chelsea in April-May 2021.
Everton avoided defeat after falling behind at the Etihad Stadium for the first time and collected their first league point at the ground since a 1-1 draw in August 2017.
Haaland’s 21 Premier League goals so far this term is the highest number scored by any player in a campaign before the turn of the year, and only Harry Kane (26) has managed more in the competition in the calendar year.
Gray’s sweet strike in the 64th minute was Everton’s first shot of the game, and it gave the former Leicester City winger his first away league goal since he netted in August 2021 at Brighton.
Wolves 0-1 Manchester United: Rash won’t go away
Rashford came off the bench to be the hero, having been relegated to a substitute role after sleeping in and turning up late for a team meeting.
That was a rare misstep from the England man, who is showing exemplary form for United just now. Rashford has scored in three consecutive games for United for the first time since November 2019.
Rashford’s classy 76th-minute finish gave him a 100th goal involvement in the Premier League (65 goals, 35 assists), and a 12th goal as a substitute in the competition. Only Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (17) and Javier Hernandez (14) have netted more off the bench for United in the competition.
Former manager Solskjaer, meanwhile, is the only boss who has reached 10 Premier League wins in fewer matches than Erik ten Hag. It took Solskjaer 12 games, while Ten Hag has needed 16 to reach the total, with his team now up to fourth spot.
United’s success gave them a third consecutive away win at Wolves for the first time, while it means they have not lost their last league game of the year since a shock 3-2 reverse to Blackburn Rovers in 2011, winning eight and drawing three of their year-ending fixtures since.
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