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Gabriel Jesus scored a brace to inspire Arsenal to a 4-1 win over Leeds United to boost their Premier League title hopes.
Mikel Arteta’s side had seen their advantage trimmed to five points by second placed Manchester City’s 4-1 win against Liverpool earlier in the afternoon.
But the Gunners showed no signs of feeling any title race pressure at the Emirates Stadium as they cruised to a seventh successive league victory.
Jesus was the headline act for Arsenal as he replaced the ill Bukayo Saka in the starting line-up and ensured the in-form England forward wasn’t missed in the slightest.
The Brazilian put Arsenal ahead with a penalty late in the first half, ending a 14-game drought with his sixth goal since joining from title rivals City last year.
Ben White, a former Leeds loanee, doubled Arsenal’s advantage early in the second half.
Making just his second start since surgery on the knee injury he suffered at last year’s World Cup, Jesus struck again with a predatory effort, underlining the importance of his return to fitness as the title race approaches its climax.
Rasmus Kristensen got one back for Leeds, but Granit Xhaka’s late header capped yet another ruthless Arsenal performance.
Arteta has worked wonders with a humble squad lacking the star-power of Arsenal’s last title winners in 2004, but filled with workaholics who buy into their manager’s demand for a unified and driven group.
After surrendering top spot with a 3-1 defeat against City in February, Arsenal have responded impressively, showing a maturity and composure far beyond the Gunners’ teams that routinely underachieved in recent years.
Arsenal have played a game more than City and still have to travel to Manchester to face Pep Guardiola’s champions on April 26.
With trips to Liverpool and West Ham — both desperate for points at opposite ends of the table — in their next two games, the north Londoners can’t rest on their laurels.
But, as they approach their final nine matches, the destiny of the title is firmly in Arsenal’s hands.
Leeds, who haven’t beaten Arsenal since 2003, sit just one point above the relegation zone. (AFP)