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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Mertesacker heads Gunners into 3rd after two red cards

Steve Sidwell and Olivier Giroud both got their marching orders in the London derby.

Mertesacker scores.
Mertesacker scores.
Image: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport

ARSENAL RETURNED TO third place in the Premier League table with a 1-0 win at 10-man Fulham on Saturday, while Reading and Queens Park Rangers slipped ever closer to relegation.

Arsenal, who started with England midfielder Jack Wilshere on the bench, were given a huge advantage in the 12th minute at Craven Cottage when Steve Sidwell was shown a straight red card for catching Mikel Arteta on the ankle with his studs.

Sidwell had only just returned from a three-match ban following a red card at home to QPR and Arsenal quickly asserted their advantage, with Olivier Giroud grazing the post in the 35th minute.

The breakthrough arrived from an unfamiliar source two minutes before half-time.

Theo Walcott’s free-kick was headed across goal by Laurent Koscielny and the Frenchman’s centre-back partner Per Mertesacker arrived unmarked to head the ball home from close range.

It should have been a straightforward victory, but the visitors were unable to kill the game off and then lost Giroud to a late red card after he clumsily fouled Stanislav Manolev.

Victory lifted Arsenal above Chelsea, but both the Stamford Bridge club and fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur now have two games in hand on Arsene Wenger’s side.

Chelsea will regain third place if they win at Liverpool on Sunday, while Spurs can close to within two points of their north London rivals if they overcome second-place Manchester City.

Sidwell’s red card chllenge:

Credit: Arsenalist

And Giroud’s tackle:

Credit: Arsenalist

And the winning goal:

YouTube credit: MrHDosmn02

At the other end of the table, QPR and Reading appear to be living on borrowed time after both sides lost and saw three of the sides above them win.

Bottom club Reading went down 2-1 at Norwich City, to leave Nigel Adkins’ men 10 points from safety with only 12 points to play for.

Quick-fire goals from Ryan Bennett and Elliott Bennett early in the second half put Norwich in control at Carrow Road, before Garath McCleary replied with a fine individual goal for the visitors.

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