Arsenal extends EPL lead; Brighton, Sheffield advance in Cup

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Knocked out of Europe on Thursday, Arsenal’s sights are now solely fixed on winning the Premier League title for the first time in 19 years.

And that elusive prize moved a step closer on Sunday as a 4-1 win against Crystal Palace moved Mikel Arteta’s team eight points clear at the top of the table.

There was no sign of a hangover after the penalty shootout loss to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League as Arsenal underlined its title credentials.

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Gabriel Martinelli, who missed the decisive spot kick in that match, quickly put that disappointment behind him by opening the scoring against Palace.

“There is always the question,” Arsenal manager Arteta said. “But I asked him yesterday how he was and he said: ‘I want to be in the team.’

“We were really determined and focused and left Thursday in the past."

Arsenal still has to play second-place Manchester City and Liverpool before the end of the season. But the Londoners are in impressive form having won six in a row in the league.

Bukayo Saka provided the pass for Martinelli to become the first player in the league to reach double figures for goals and assists this season and then went on to score two more.

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Granit Xhaka got Arsenal’s other goal, while Jeffrey Schlupp scored for Palace, who fired manager Patrick Vieira this week.

DOYLE RULED OUT

Manchester City prospect Tommy Doyle fired Sheffield United into the FA Cup semifinals on Sunday and then learned he will have to miss out on the biggest game of his young career.

The 21-year-old midfielder is on loan at Sheffield and due to competition rules is ineligible to play against his parent club after Man City and Sheffield were drawn against each other in the next round.

It means Doyle will be a spectator for the match at Wembley, when Premier League champions City will be favorites to advance to the final.

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Doyle struck in the first minute of second-half stoppage time as Sheffield beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 in a thrilling quarterfinal clash between the two second-tier sides.

Blackburn had twice taken the lead through Ben Brereton and Sammie Szmodics.

Sam Gallagher's own-goal and Oliver McBurnie evened the score on each occasion before Doyle's late winner.

But he barely had time to enjoy his celebrations before learning Sheffield had been drawn against City.

FAIRY TALE ENDS

Grimsby's FA Cup fairy tale is over after the fourth-tier team was routed 5-0 by Premier League Brighton.

Grimsby was the lowest-ranked team left in the competition and had reached the quarters for the first time since 1939, having knocked out top-flight Southampton in the last round.

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But there was no danger of another upset against Brighton, which scored four goals in the second half at Amex Stadium.

Deniz Undav fired the home side in front after just six minutes. Evan Ferguson scored twice after the break, with Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma completing the rout.

Brighton faces the winner of the game later Sunday between Manchester United and Fulham.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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