Bukayo Saka achieves Premier League first as Arsenal beat Crystal Palace to go eight points clear
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hailed Bukayo Saka after he helped the Gunners to shake off a European hangover and go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Saka scored twice and set up another as Arsenal beat managerless Crystal Palace 4-1, less than 72 hours after being dumped out of the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon.
Gabriel Martinelli, who missed in the penalty shootout with Sporting, and Granit Xhaka also scored as the Gunners pulled away from closest rivals Manchester City.
“He was disappointed not to get a hat-trick,” said Arteta of Saka, who became the first Premier League player this season to hit double figures for goals and assists.
“That is what we need. We need our front players firing and making the difference and today they did that again.
“The desire and the energy that we put in right from the beginning impressed me most. We were really determined and focused and left Thursday in the past.
“Now we must stop and make sure everyone comes back from the internationals with the same mindset.”
Arsenal took advantage of City being in FA Cup action over the weekend to increase their lead heading into this week’s international break, albeit that the champions have a game in hand.
Martinelli smashed the opener after 28 minutes and Saka slotted his first before half-time. Xhaka finished from close range early in the second half and, after Jeffrey Schlupp had pulled one back for Palace, Saka swept in Arsenal’s fourth.
The visitors, who sacked former Gunners captain Patrick Vieira as manager on Friday, were not helped by the loss of defender Joachim Andersen to injury in the warm-up.
Palace lie 12th in the Premier League but just three points above the relegation zone.