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Arsenal 2 - Luton Town 0: professional

Arsenal defeated Luton Town 2-0 at the Emirates with a performance that, while not the most scintillating by any stretch of the imagination, was more than enough to get the job done. The win takes the Gunners back to the top of the Premier League, at least until Liverpool play tomorrow and keeps Mikel Arteta’s side unbeaten in the PL in 2024.
The Gunners were quite good in the first half, passing through and around the Hatters with ease. They lacked the killer, cutting edge in the final third for the opening 25 minutes, but Martin Ødegaard’s brilliance (who else) put Arsenal ahead. Emile Smith Rowe did well to win the ball back in the middle third and slipped it to the captain. A one-two with Kai Havertz later, the ball was in the back of the Luton net.
Arsenal made it 2-0 twenty minutes later. Emile Smith Rowe beat his man around the corner and cut it back from the touchline. Reiss Nelson made the right run and arrived in the six-yard box at the right time. He swung and mostly missed at the pass, but it caromed in off Daiki Hashioka. It was an impressive return to the lineup for ESR, particularly in the first half. His energy and off-ball work were top notch.
Hard work was a consistent theme for Arsenal’s rotated side. What they lacked in sharpness they made up for with hustle. Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, and Oleksandr Zinchenko all stood out at various points for how hard they worked tracking back defensively.
That defensive effort, alongside the usual, resolute play from William Saliba and Gabriel, helped Arsenal maintain their status as the top defense in the Premier League. Luton came into the match with the longest scoring streak in the Premier League, goals in 18 straight matches. Today’s clean sheet broke that streak and extended David Raya’s PL-leading mark to eleven clean sheets on the season.
As “meh” to poor as the second half was, Arsenal limited Luton to 0.17 xG in the frame. Even when the Gunners aren’t at their best, they are still really solid defensively.
The only negative on the evening was that Kai Havertz picked up a yellow card, his 9th of the season. If he gets a 10th against either Brighton or Aston Villa, he incurs a 2-match suspension. It was a silly, unnecessary card, too. There is no reason to go to ground easily on the edge of the attacking third while up 2-0 most of the way through a match.
Over to you, Liverpool. I’m not holding my breath that Sheffield United are going to take points off the Reds. Arsenal have a tough slate ahead of them. They won’t be focused on what other clubs are doing. They’ll only be concerned with what they can control.

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