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Arsenal miss out on Premier League top spot as Spurs lose thriller

Arsenal missed out on the chance to return to the Premier League summit on Thursday, losing 2-0 to West Ham as Tottenham went down in a six-goal thriller at Brighton.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners were top of the tree at Christmas for a second successive year but trail leaders Liverpool by two points at the halfway point of the season.

Arsenal, last year’s runners-up, dominated possession but lacked a cutting edge against the disciplined visitors, for whom Tomas Soucek and Konstantinos Mavropanos scored the goals.

Soucek opened the scoring from close range in the 13th minute following a pass from Jarrod Bowen, with the goal confirmed after a lengthy VAR check looking into whether the ball had gone out of play.

Arsenal surged forward in waves and West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made a reaction save from a Bukayo Saka header on the half-hour.

The England winger hit the post from a tight angle as the clock ticked down towards half-time but Arsenal trailed at the break despite enjoying nearly three-quarters of possession.

The Gunners came out determined to find a response but instead they found thelves 2-0 down when Mavropanos’s bullet header cannoned in off the crossbar from James Ward-Prowse’s corner.

Gabriel Jesus failed to beat Areola with a header when well-placed and shortly afterwards missed another glorious opportunity with his head at the back post. 

The home side continued to bombard the visitors’ goal but could not find a breakthrough and it could have been worse had Said Benrahma managed to convert a late penalty.

Defeat leaves the Gunners in second place on 40 points, one clear of Aston Villa and three ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

Spurs drama

Tottenham, this season’s early pacesetters, remain in fifth spot after losing 4-2 despite threatening an astonishing comeback from 4-0 down against Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton.

Spurs, on a run of three straight league wins, looked sharp from the kick-off, putting Brighton under immediate pressure but the home side settled quickly and started stroking the ball around.

Spurs goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario made a fine early save to keep out a firmly struck side-footed shot from Danny Welbeck from just outside the six-yard box, leaving the forward smiling in disbelief.

But Brighton were ahead minutes later when Jack Hinshelwood finished with brutal power following a weaving run from Joao Pedro along the edge of the penalty area.

The home side doubled their lead from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute through Pedro, who took full advantage after Dejan Kulusevski was penalised for a pull on Welbeck.

Veteran defender James Milner rattled the post with a curling shot just after the half hour as Brighton threatened to put the result beyond doubt.

But Tottenham continued to create chances and Richarlison hit the post with a stinging effort after a surging run from Brennan Johnson.

Brazil forward Richarlison twice had the ball in the net after the break but both times he was ruled offside.

Pervis Estupinan stretched the lead with a thunderbolt from 30 yards in the 63rd minute and Pedro scored a second penalty in the 75th minute.

Alejo Veliz grabbed what appeared to be a consolation goal in the 81st minute but it galvanised the visitors.

Ben Davies headed home Pedro Porro’s deep cross as Spurs threatened to cut through every time they poured forward, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg hitting the post during nine minutes of stoppage time.

But Brighton withstood the intense pressure to take all three points.

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