Scotland were no match for Germany as the rampant Euro 2024 hosts made a dream start to the tournament on Friday.

Florian Wirtz got the ball rolling in the 10th minute, becoming the youngest scorer of an opening goal at the European Championships in the tournament's history.

The excellent Jamal Musiala soon made it 2-0, rifling home after he was set up by Kai Havertz inside the area.

In Wirtz (21 years, 42 days) and Musiala (21 years, 109 days), Germany became the first team in European Championship history to have two players aged 21 or younger score in the same match.

Havertz turned scorer when he slotted in from the penalty spot before half-time, with Scotland defender Ryan Porteous seeing red for a lunge on Ilkay Gundogan, after a VAR review.

Porteous became the second Scottish player sent off at a major tournament, after Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco.

It is the first time a player has been sent off in the opening game of the Euros since 2012, when both Sokratis (Greece) and Wojciech Szczesny (Poland) were dismissed in a 1-1 draw.

Havertz's successfully converted spot-kick also ensured Germany went in at half-time 3-0 up – it is just the third time in European Championship history a team has scored three goals in the first half of a game, along with France vs Belgium in 1984 (3-0 at half-time) and France vs Iceland in 2016 (4-0 at half-time).

Germany made their numerical advantage count to go on and secure the biggest win by a host nation in their opening match at a European Championship tournament, and their biggest victory ever at the Euros, with an own goal from Antonio Rudiger the only negative.

Indeed, that own goal was kind to Scotland, who had only one shot, which they failed to get on target, and mustered an xG of only 0.01, in comparison to Germany's 2.17.

It marks the first time Scotland have failed to have a shot on target in a major tournament match since 1992, when they faced the Netherlands in the Euros.

Steve Clarke's team put in a sorry performance, and must now pick themselves up to face Switzerland. They will go into that match on Wednesday on the back of suffering their heaviest defeat at a major tournament since they lost 7-0 to Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup.

Germany, meanwhile, already have one foot in the knockouts, and could get the job done by beating Hungary.

Musiala really was sensational, completing five of his eight dribble attempts while also having six touches in the opponent's box – four more than Scotland managed altogether.

And finally, this match was the first match in European Championship history to see a red card, a penalty scored and an own goal scored.

Euro 2024 has started in style, even if Scotland fans will be in a hurry to forget this result.

Florian Wirtz needed only 10 minutes to spark Euro 2024 into life.

After a brilliant season for Bayer Leverkusen, in which he was named the Bundesliga's Player of the Season, Wirtz came into Euro 2024 as one of the standout youngsters.

His first-time finish to put Germany ahead in Munich on Friday, a cute side-footed effort that Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn could only help in off the post, proved why everyone is so excited to see how Julian Nagelsmann gets the best out of a player who scored 18 goals and set up 19 more in all competitions in 2023-24.

Wirtz's goal set Germany on their way to a 5-1 rout – the biggest win for a host in the opening match of a Euros in the tournament's history.

He was not the superstar of Germany's performance, though. His fellow youngster, Jamal Musiala, was spellbinding.

Having lashed in a wonderful second goal for the hosts, Musiala ran the show in the final third, and played a key role with a wonderful pass when super-sub Niclas Fullkrug made it 4-0 midway through the second half.

Musiala, who was the one bright spark from Germany's dismal performance under Hansi Flick at the 2022 World Cup, teased and toyed with Scotland. He attempted eight dribbles, completing five, had a game-high six touches in the opposition box and came out on top in nine of his 15 duels before he was replaced, fittingly perhaps, by the vastly experienced Thomas Muller.

The intriguing question ahead of kick-off was how Nagelsmann, the youngest-ever coach in the history of the Euros, would manage to get those two fantastic number 10s into the same team.

His answer was to dovetail the duo with an experienced midfield – Ilkay Gundogan (33) played ahead of Robert Andrich (29) and the imperious Toni Kroos (34) – and it worked a treat.

Wirtz is the youngest player to score the opening goal at a Euros, and the youngest player to net for Germany at the tournament. 

Once Musiala drilled home, Germany became the first team to have two players aged 21 or younger score for them in the same Euros match.

But it was not all about the flair of youth at the Allianz Arena, where the only blemish on Germany's copybook was an Antonio Rudiger own goal as Scotland mustered a meagre 0.01 xG and failed to have a shot on target.

Kroos, in the first game of his swansong, led the game for touches (108), and completed 101 (99 per cent) of his 102 passes. It was his crossfield pass that opened up the pitch for Joshua Kimmich to cut inside from the right and lay on Wirtz's opener.

Gundogan nipped around, linking the play; the Barcelona midfielder won the penalty from which Kai Havertz made it 3-0 – and which led to Scotland defender Ryan Porteous becoming the second Scottish player sent off at a major tournament, after Craig Burley in the 1998 World Cup against Morocco. 

At the back, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his 35th appearance at a major tournament. It saw the 38-year-old surpass Philipp Lahm as Germany's all-time appearance maker in the Euros and World Cup combined.

Indeed, for all the talk that Nagelsmann had gone with a relatively inexperienced squad for this home tournament, and that it could act as a way to build towards the 2026 World Cup, Germany's starting XI on Friday had an average age of 29 years and 22 days. 

 

That makes it Germany's oldest starting XI at a World Cup or Euros since 2000.

There was a healthy balance all around the pitch for Germany, as Nagelsmann became only the second manager to win by four goals in his first game at the European Championship, along with Lars Lagerback in 2004 (Sweden 5-0 Bulgaria).

And the men in the middle are worth a mention.

Havertz is no longer the bright new hope for German football, but the 25-year-old was hugely impressive as he led the line, providing the assist for Musiala and coolly converting his penalty.

Niclas Fullkrug, fresh from helping Borussia Dortmund reach the Champions League final, replaced Havertz around the hour mark. Soon after, he fired in a wonderful strike.

He will be playing a back-up role in this tournament, but he should not mind that. Three of Fullkrug's major tournament goals have been as a sub, a joint-record for a European nation, along with Hungary's Laszlo Kiss, Portugal's Rui Costa, and Germany's Andre Schurrle.

Fullkrug's club-mate Emre Can, a late call-up, rounded matters off late on. 

Germany have not always clicked under Nagelsmann, but they are clearly the best team in Group A and have the weight of a nation behind them.

Hungary and Switzerland will likely provide sterner tests than Scotland, though with a perfect blend of youth and experience, the hosts laid down a marker.

Andy Robertson admitted Scotland "didn't turn up" in the first half of their chastening 5-1 defeat to Euro 2024 hosts Germany on Friday.

Backed by a vocal travelling contingent in Munich, Scotland were chasing their first major tournament victory since the turn of the century but were torn apart by Julian Nagelsmann's side.

Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz netted as Scotland went into half-time three goals and a man down, having seen Ryan Porteous sent off for a wild challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

Substitutes Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can then scored in the second half either side of an Antonio Rudiger own goal, as Scotland conceded five goals in a game for the first time since a 5-1 friendly defeat to the United States in May 2012.

At the other end, Scotland failed to record a single shot on target in a major tournament match for the first time since a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands at Euro 1992.

Speaking to ITV Sport after the full-time whistle, Liverpool left-back Robertson said Scotland's players had let boss Steve Clarke down.

"In the first half we didn't really show up. We weren't aggressive enough, we let good players on the ball," Robertson said.

"They obviously had a gameplan, like we did. Their gameplan worked a million times better than ours but it wasn't because of the practice, it was because we didn't put it together on the pitch.

"When big occasions like this come, you have to do that. In the second half, down to 10 men, I thought the lads dug in really well, to be fair to them. 

"We could have drawn the second half but it's no consolation. We're well backed here with so many supporters, and today was hugely disappointing.

"Playing against the host nation in the first game, you don't get much tougher than that. But we have to bounce back quickly because there was a lot of things wrong today."

Scotland's defeat was their heaviest at any major tournament since the 1954 World Cup, when they were trounced 7-0 by then-world champions Uruguay.

They have five days to put the result out of their minds ahead of their second Group A match, against Switzerland at the RheinEnergieStadion in Koln.

"It's a reminder of how tough this tournament is. You're playing against world-class players and their players turned up all over the park," Robertson added.

"They had an answer for everything we had. Sometimes that happens but if we sit down, we can't think we played to our maximum, and you have to do that. 

"We have five days to sort ourselves out and go again, it will be another tough test against Switzerland. We'll take tomorrow to be angry at ourselves but then come Sunday, we have to be positive."

Euro 2024 hosts Germany got off to a flying start as they comprehensively dispatched Scotland 5-1 on Friday.

Goals from Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz and Niclas Fullkrug blew Scotland away at the Allianz Arena.

But while the football entertained, there was also plenty of action on social media.

Here's a pick of the best posts.

The special... two?

Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson enjoyed a great rivalry on the touchline down the years, but there was no sign of that as the two watched on from the stands in Munich.

Unfortunately for Ferguson, Scotland were on the receiving end of a hammering.

We can only wonder what these two greats had to say about Scotland's sorry performance, though surely they will have been full of praise for Germany.

Honouring a great

Franz Beckenbauer passed away in January, and ahead of the opening game, his wife Heidi led a touching tribute to der Kaiser.

Moral support

Nathan Patterson is not fit to feature for Scotland, but the Everton full-back has travelled out to Germany to support his team-mates.

Unfortunately for Scotland, it didn't quite work out, and Patterson will be needing to provide plenty of moral support after their heavy defeat in Munich.

Pickford gets quizzed

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was fulfilling his media duties on Friday, and he stopped by to answer some fan questions ahead of the Three Lions' opener against Serbia.

Pickford was quizzed on how he copes with the pressure as kick-off approaches - "Enjoy the moment", he said - while revealing former England shot-stopper Joe Hart, who retired last month, has served as an inspiration.

Young guns exciting Schweinsteiger 

Bastian Schweinsteiger helped Germany to World Cup glory in 2014, so it feels like he is pretty well placed to pass judgement on up and coming stars.

And when asked on X for the players he was most excited to see in action at Euro 2024, the former Bayern Munich midfielder picked out Florian Wirtz, Cole Palmer and Rafael Leao.

Wirtz certainly delivered, as he starred in Germany's big win over Scotland. Will Palmer and Leao be equally as impressive for England and Portugal respectively?

Picture perfect

Olivier Giroud is one handsome devil, so it's no surprise that he's a photographer's dream.

That being said, it's rare that the person behind the camera is one of his team-mates, but Giroud could only smile, and offer a cheeky pose, as Benjamin Pavard sneakily grabbed a camera and tried to get the perfect shot while the France number nine was holding a press conference.

Niclas Fullkrug is ready to embrace his role as Germany's second-choice striker behind Kai Havertz, and use it as motivation at Euro 2024.

Julian Nagelsmann confirmed Havertz will lead the line at the tournament for the hosts, who begin their campaign against Scotland in Group A on Friday.

Despite playing five fewer games (46), Fullkurg scored more goals (16 to 14), created more assists (11 to seven), recorded a higher xG (19.18 to 14.79) and a higher shot conversion rate (16.67 per cent to 15.22 per cent) than the Arsenal forward in 2023-24.

But the 31-year-old, who discussed the situation with Nagelsmann, fully respects his coach's decision, and welcomes the opportunity to fight for his place.

"The coach has the power and takes the decisions and that's the right way," said Fullkrug, who has scored 11 goals in 16 seniors caps. 

"Since we were young footballers, we were taught about competition. We are all ambitious to play as much as possible and carry responsibility.

"Kai has my full support and I wish him all the goals possible, because that will take us forward in this unique chance we have.

"We are going into the tournament with a good feeling. You have to identify with your role and still accept it, and see it as motivation to work in order to go beyond just this role and get more playing time.

"Basically, it is good to have two different types of strikers. Kai is a completely different striker, defined by a different game. We are both very confident. I don't think many teams will be happy to play against us."

Julian Nagelsmann said he would "not allow any discussion" surrounding Manuel Neuer following his mistake against Greece in their final game ahead of Euro 2024. 

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper was at fault for the opening goal of their encounter with Nikos Papadopoulos' side in Monchengladbach, spilling Christos Tzolis' shot into the path of Georgios Masouras, who tapped home. 

But the tournament hosts were able to overcome that initial setback, with Kai Havertz levelling 10 minutes into the second half before Pascal Gross secured the victory in the final minute of normal time. 

Neuer's error came shortly after it was announced that Stuttgart goalkeeper Alexander Nubel had been dropped from Nagelsmann's 26-man squad, with Oliver Baumann and Marc-Andre ter Stegen named as the other two within the group. 

The 38-year-old has played in every single major tournament for his nation since 2010 but has not played for his country since 2022 due to injury. 

Speaking shortly after the friendly fixture, the German head coach was quick to defend his number one ahead of their Group A opener against Scotland next week, stating that everything was fine before Die Mannschaft's 14th appearance in the competition. 

"I won’t let any discussion arise, even if everyone tries to start one," Nagelsmann said. 

"When he makes a mistake it's easy to say that it was his fault. But at the end of the day, it was a series of mistakes. He pulled off three class saves during the match - saves that others might not be able to make. Everything is fine."

Pascal Gross scored a fine 89th-minute winner as Germany fought back to beat Greece 2-1 in their final friendly ahead of Euro 2024 at BORUSSIA-PARK on Friday.

Manuel Neuer has beaten off competition from Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Germany's number one shirt, but an uncharacteristic error from the veteran put the hosts on the back foot in the first half, Giorgos Masouras finishing when the goalkeeper failed to hold Christos Tzolis' shot.

Kai Havertz had a goal disallowed for offside shortly before half-time, but he would not be denied after the break as he saw a shot deflect in after being fed by Leroy Sane.

Substitute Benjamin Henrichs rattled the crossbar from distance with 84 minutes gone as Germany's bid for a winner looked like falling flat.

However, Brighton and Hove Albion man Gross gave the home fans something to cheer with one minute of the 90 remaining, firing a half-cleared cross into the top-right corner for his first international goal.

Data Debrief: Germany ride their luck 

Germany fired off 27 shots without finding the breakthrough against Ukraine in a goalless friendly draw on Monday, but it was a very different game on Friday as they rode their luck somewhat.

Julian Nagelsmann's team recorded just 12 shots worth 0.88 expected goals (xG) to Greece's 14 (2.14 xG), with a brilliant finish from Gross bailing them out after the visitors failed to take their chances. 

Kai Havertz believes Arsenal deserve more after they were pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester City.

Arsenal knew they needed to beat Everton in the final game of the season and hope City slipped up at home to West Ham, but though Havertz netted an 89th-minute winner to see off the Toffees 2-1, Pep Guardiola's men ran out 3-1 victors over the Hammers.

City claim a fourth straight Premier League title, while Arsenal finish second again having also finished runners-up last season.

Havertz was left disappointed after the game, believing Arsenal's efforts throughout the campaign warranted a first Premier League crown in 20 years.

Havertz told TNT Sports "What can I say? I feel sorry for all the Arsenal fans. We gave our best but it wasn't enough.

"Maybe in two or three months we can say it was a good fight. Right now, I feel like we deserve more. It wasn't enough in the end but we go again next year."

Havertz's goal against Everton was his 13th of the league campaign, with no German scoring more in a 20-team Premier League season.

After a tough start to life in an Arsenal shirt since joining from Chelsea, Havertz has enjoyed a strong end to the campaign.

Havertz was proud of his and his team-mates' efforts, saying: "We showed great character again, they [Everton] didn't make it easy for us. They took time with every throw and every ball. In my opinion it's sometimes not fair in football but we have to accept that football is hard.

"Hopefully we can go again next year and give Arsenal fans what they need and what they're all here for."

When asked if he had a message for Gunners fans, Havertz stated: "Right now, I can't even think. It's just so frustrating. It's tough.

"I can tell them next year that we're going to be an even better team and we're going to give everything again. That's all I can say."

Mikel Arteta thanked Arsenal fans for their patience after the Gunners missed out on the Premier League title.

Arsenal headed into the final game on Sunday needing a victory over Everton and a Manchester City slip-up at home to West Ham to claim their first title in 20 years.

Arsenal did their part as Kai Havertz netted a late winner to see off Everton, but City were also triumphant in their game as Pep Guardiola's men secured a fourth straight Premier League title while ensuring the Gunners finish runners-up for a second straight season.

Following the game, Arteta addressed the Arsenal fans at the Emirates Stadium, praising them for their support and looking ahead to the future.

Arteta told the crowd: "All this is happening because you started believing, you started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do. All the credit has to go to the players and the staff.

"Don't be satisfied. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it."

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard also spoke to the fans, and though he was downcast over finishing second behind City again, the Norway international also believes the club has an exciting future ahead.

"I think we're all a little bit disappointed," Odegaard said. "We've been fighting so long for the big dream. We were so close.

"I'm so proud of the boys, so proud of the team and the fans. I'm so proud of the progress we are making.

"We've changed the club, and I think you all believe in us now."

Julian Nagelsmann has named a 27-man provisional squad for hosts Germany ahead of Euro 2024.

The biggest surprise in the squad was the inclusion of a fourth goalkeeper, as Stuttgart goalkeeper Alexander Nubel received his first senior call-up.

Mats Hummels is one of the big names left out despite helping Borussia Dortmund on their way to the Champions League final, while Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka is also absent once more. 

Julian Brandt, Niklas Sule and Karim Adeyemi miss out on a place in the tournament, while Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner are both out through injury.

After winning just one of his first four games in charge, Nagelsmann changed things in March and was rewarded with back-to-back victories.

Nico Schlotterbeck won 71 per cent of his tackles in the Bundesliga - the highest figure in Europe's big-five leagues this season (at least 70 tackles), and is back in the national squad for the first time since September.

Aleksandar Pavlovic missed the March friendlies due to injury but is a welcome recall - Bayern have an 83.3 per cent win ratio with Pavlovic in their team in the Bundesliga this season, but that drops to 53.3 per cent when he is not in the side.

Schlotterbeck, Niclas Fullkrug, Toni Kroos and Antonio Rudiger will all link up with the squad late due to their involvement in the Champions League final.

The final 26-man squad must be submitted on June 7, meaning at least one player will be dropped before the start of the tournament.

As the tournament hosts, Germany begin their Euro 2024 campaign in the opening game against Scotland on June 14.

Germany squad

Goalkeepers: Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Alexander Nubel (Stuttgart), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

Defenders: Waldemar Anton (Stuttgart), Benjamin Henrichs (RB Leipzig), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Robin Koch (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maximilian Mittelstadt (Stuttgart), David Raum (RB Leipzig), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid), Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Robert Andrich (Bayer Leverkusen), Chris Fuhruch (Stuttgart), Pascal Gross (Brighton), Ilkay Gundogan (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Aleksandar Pavlovic (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Forwards: Maximilian Beier (Hoffenheim), Niclas Fullkrug (Borussia Dortmund), Kai Havertz (Arsenal), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Denis Undav (Stuttgart)

Kai Havertz joked he will be Tottenham's "biggest fan" as Arsenal look for a helping hand from their fierce rivals when they take on Manchester City.

Arsenal defeated Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday through a first-half Leandro Trossard tap-in that was nicely assisted by Havertz.

That victory lifted the Gunners one point above City, who have an inferior goal difference of three and play their game in hand at Tottenham on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola's side still have the title in their hands, but dropped points in North London will change that heading into the final round of fixtures, with Arsenal hosting Everton and City at home to West Ham.

Asked by Sky Sports if he is going to back Spurs for the victory against City, Havertz laughed and said: "I am going to be the biggest fan of Tottenham ever. Let's hope for the best."

Arsenal's victory at Old Trafford was their 27th in the Premier League this season - only in 1970-71 (29) and 1930-31 (28) have they won more in a single top-flight campaign.

Mikel Arteta's men could reach 89 points with victory over an Everton side with nothing to play for, yet that may still not be enough if City win both remaining fixtures.

Regardless of the result at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Premier League title race will still go down to the final weekend.

"We have one game and we need the whole club behind us - anything is possible," Havertz said. 

"We prepared for the game very well, we didn’t have our best game but we needed the three points and we have it now so we can be happy.

"We have to win every single game as City are always keeping the pressure on. It is so nice to be in the [title] race and every week you have to play at your best."

Havertz kept up his impressive form by setting up the only goal for Trossard, who has put Arsenal 1-0 up with three of the last four goals he has netted.

An out-of-sorts United side offered little in an attacking sense, a few David Raya saves from distance aside, in what was a deserved victory for the visitors.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Trossard said: "Man Utd are still a good team and they can hurt you in different ways so credit to the boys - we defended really well.

"Obviously we only have one objective to win the league. We have done our job today and it will be up to the last game and that is what we are aiming for.

"Hopefully next week we can celebrate something - you never know, it could be. We can only hope. We have done our job and that is the only thing we could have done."

Mikel Arteta has fond memories of the last time Arsenal faced Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium and believes the never-say-die spirit they showed in that match could prove key in this season's title race.

Arsenal came from 2-0 down to beat Bournemouth 3-2 last March, with Reiss Nelson hitting a 97th-minute winner as the Gunners' supporters began to believe in their title dream.

Arteta's men ultimately came up short in the run-in in 2022-23, but they hold a slender one-point lead over City as they bid to go one better in 2023-24, though City have a game in hand.

Reflecting on the Cherries' last visit to the Emirates, Arteta said the resilience shown on that day has become a key characteristic of his side. 

"I have a great memory because the game ended in a really beautiful way and it was one of the highlights of the season, so we know we're going to have to earn it tomorrow," he said.

"It's going to be a really tough match but the team is ready."

Asked about the importance of finding different ways to win, he added: "It's important at any stage, but now obviously with what is there to win, we know that we're going to have to win games in different ways and that could be one way. 

"Hopefully tomorrow it's not like that but if it has to be, then that's welcome."

Andoni Iraola's Bournemouth are eyeing a top-half finish after winning five of their last eight games, and they surpassed their previous record points tally for a Premier League season by reaching 48 with last week's 3-0 thrashing of Brighton and Hove Albion.

Iraola, however, wants more, saying: "It's good news. It's something we were trying to get to in the past few weeks but now we still want more points.

"We have three very difficult games starting with tomorrow, but we are going to keep trying to be competitive in every game."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arsenal – Kai Havertz

Havertz's first Premier League goal for Arsenal came in their 4-0 win at Bournemouth in the reverse fixture. The German has been involved in 13 goals in his last 11 league games for the Gunners, scoring eight and assisting five.

Bournemouth – Justin Kluivert

Bournemouth's Kluivert has registered as many goal involvements in his last six Premier League games (four – three goals, one assist) as he had in his first 23 in the competition (four goals).

MATCH PREDICTION: ARSENAL WIN

Arsenal have won all six of their home Premier League matches against Bournemouth. The Gunners have only played more home games against Stoke while maintaining a 100 per cent record (10/10).

Arsenal have also won 13 of their 15 Premier League games so far in 2024, dropping points only against City (0-0) and Aston Villa (0-2). However, the Gunners have conceded four goals in their last four league games, as many as in their previous 11 combined.

However, Bournemouth have only picked up five points in 13 Premier League matches against Arsenal (one win, two draws, 10 losses) and have never kept a clean sheet against the Gunners. The Cherries have only played more games against City (14) without recording a shutout.

Bournemouth have won 1-0 at Wolves and 3-0 against Brighton in their last two Premier League games – never before have they won three consecutive top-flight games without conceding.

Arsenal have scored a league-high 85 goals in their 35 Premier League games this season, with their average of 2.4 goals-per-game their highest across a single campaign since 1934-35, when they scored 115 goals in 42 matches (2.7 per game).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Arsenal – 70.2%

Draw – 19.3%

Bournemouth – 10.5%

Mikel Arteta hailed an “unbelievable” performance from Kai Havertz after his two goals helped Arsenal move three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a thumping 5-0 win over Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

The 24-year-old, who struggled in his early appearances after swapping Stamford Bridge for north London in the summer, gave a superb display against his former side as the leaders heaped more misery on visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his ninth-place team slump to a worst-ever league defeat against Arsenal.

Havertz struck twice as part of an 18-minute blitz in the second half as Arteta’s team won for the second time in four days, continuing their recovery from successive losses to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

“He (Havertz) was unbelievable, in all departments,” said Arteta.

“For a nine to score two goals the way he scored, his contribution was great. It’s a question for him but I’m sure he’s very pleased.”

The Arsenal onslaught began after only four minutes, Declan Rice sliding the ball into a channel on the left of the penalty area from where Leandro Trossard took over, dinking past defender Alfie Gilchrist, on his first Premier League start, and thudding it through the legs of Djordje Petrovic.

Thereafter Chelsea competed gamely, going close to equalising when Axel Disasi just failed to reach a flick-on from a corner and again when Nicolas Jackson’s effort was deflected onto the post by Gabriel, but in the space of under 20 minutes after the interval they fell to pieces.

First, Ben White reacted quickest to sweep home after Rice’s shot was blocked, then Havertz got his first of the night with a lofted finish over the goalkeeper.

The former Chelsea forward made it 4-0, his shot pinging in off the post with Petrovic rooted, before White provided the moment of the match with a cross-shot that sailed across the face of goal and in from Martin Odegaard’s pass.

“It was a big performance, collectively and individually,” said Arteta, whose side moved clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s derby against Tottenham but have played a game more than Liverpool and two more than Manchester City.

“I thought we were really good, against a really good team that was in great form and were going to ask us a lot of questions. I think we responded really well.

“From the start we were really determined, really flowing, playing with a lot of courage and making things happen. Really happy with the result. It’s a big day for our supporters.

“It’s great for us, for the confidence and for the belief that we can do it, we can come to these stages against big teams and win games the way we’ve done it tonight. So enjoy it, then it’s back to work tomorrow because we have a big one on Sunday.”

Chelsea boss Pochettino, for whom Arteta admitted to have “all the sympathy in the world,” gave a downcast assessment of his team’s prospects of qualifying for Europe after a humbling loss.

“Now it is difficult to see the future because after this game we feel disappointed,” he said. “It is difficult to talk about objectives.

“If we compete like Saturday (in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to City), OK. But if we compete like today, I think we deserve to go into Europe? I think in this way, no.”

Kai Havertz scored twice against his former club as Arsenal tightened their grip on top spot in the Premier League by denting Chelsea’s European aspirations with a thumping 5-0 win.

Gunners forward Havertz, who made a £65million switch from Stamford Bridge last summer, registered two of four second-half goals on a remarkable evening at a jubilant Emirates Stadium.

Defender Ben White also claimed a brace for Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing side, adding to Leandro Trossard’s early opener, as the Blues’ recent resurgence floundered in embarrassing fashion in the absence of key man Cole Palmer.

Victory moved Arsenal three points ahead of second-placed Liverpool having now played one game more, while reigning champions Manchester City sit four points behind with two matches in hand.

Outclassed Chelsea squandered a series of chances, with Nicolas Jackson particularly culpable, as they suffered a first defeat in nine top-flight games and missed the chance to climb to seventh.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men made the short trip across the capital on the back of a painful FA Cup semi-final defeat to Pep Guardiola’s City and without 20-goal top scorer Palmer due to illness.

Blues academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist was handed a first Premier League start as part of four changes, while Arsenal recalled Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey.

The Gunners, who suffered a damaging 2-0 loss to Aston Villa in their last home game before exiting the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, began brightly and led inside four minutes.

Declan Rice was afforded time and space to advance deep into opposition territory before slipping in Trossard to escape Gilchrist and fire a low left-footed shot from a tight angle which was allowed to squirm home by Blues goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.

Chelsea’s evening could quickly have gone downhill but Jackson avoided a potential eighth-minute red card after catching Tomiyasu’s ankle with his studs.

Arsenal, whose players wore black armbands following the death last week of former club chairman Sir Chips Keswick at the age of 84, continued to be the dominant force.

Ex-Chelsea academy player Rice fired narrowly over from the edge of the box following a delightful pirouette, before the visitors almost snatched a fortuitous leveller.

After Jackson outpaced William Saliba down the left wing, his attempted cut back deflected off Gabriel and struck the outside of the near post.

Petrovic then atoned for his costly early error by denying Havertz and, moments later, pulling off a fine reaction save to repel Trossard’s effort which took a hefty touch off Axel Disasi.

A pulsating, end-to-end encounter showed little sign of relenting.

Gunners defender White produced a crucial block to deny Marc Cucurella after good work from Noni Madueke, before Enzo Fernandez side-footed the rebound just wide.

Jackson inexplicably handled a golden headed chance from Conor Gallagher’s cross as a breathless opening period finished with a flurry of yellow cards, including one for Arteta.

The Arsenal boss would have been keen for his side to kill off the contest as quickly as possible – and duly got his wish.

Petrovic saved well from Rice and Havertz before the hosts secured breathing space seven minutes after the restart.

Following a short corner between Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, Rice was again denied – this time by the leg of Gallagher – only for the unmarked White to sweep in the loose ball.

The result was put beyond doubt just five minutes later, with the identity of the goalscorer particularly painful for the travelling fans.

Havertz, who scored Chelsea’s winner in the 2021 Champions League final, was superbly released by Odegaard and held off Cucurella to lift the ball over Petrovic, sparking wild scenes in the stands followed by taunts aimed at the away end.

Jackson’s wasteful evening continued as he hit the side-netting with only David Raya to beat before Arsenal piled on the misery for former Tottenham boss Pochettino.

Havertz doubled his tally in the 65th minute by firing home via the right post after receiving the ball from Saka.

White replicated the Germany international’s achievement only five minutes later when his attempted volley across goal from Odegaard’s dinked pass inadvertently flew into the top left corner to cap a humiliating outing for Chelsea.

Arsenal’s form in April looks like costing them dearly again this season after they exited the Champions League and fell behind in the title race.

After costly defeats to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich, the PA news agency looks at the Gunners’ recurring failings at this time of year.

Same old story

Manager Mikel Arteta backed his side to “write our story very differently” against Bayern and had previously called on them to recreate the aura of the 2003-04 “Invincibles”, who won the league without losing a game.

They may instead be following the pattern of Arsenal teams since then who have narrowly missed out on success, particularly last season when they began April eight points clear.

They maintained that margin by beating Leeds on April 1 but drew their next three games and then lost to eventual champions Manchester City as they finished five points behind.

Consecutive league defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton in April 2022 contributed to Arsenal missing out on the Champions League.

This season, they were top after beating the Seagulls but defeat to Villa left them two points behind City. That was sandwiched between the two legs of the Bayern tie, a 2-2 draw at home and Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat in Germany, leaving them needing to end a three-game winless run when they face Wolves on Saturday.

It is not a new phenomenon either – as far back as 2007-08, Arsenal finished four points off the top after winning only one of eight games from February 23 to April 13.

They took one point from four games in the run-in to end their 2009-10 title challenge and five from the final six games in 2010-11 to finish down in fourth, and winning their final five games in 2013-14 was not enough after they took two points from the previous four. They were top of the league for more days that season than any other team, as was the case last year with a record 248.

Same old faces

The PA news agency understands there are some concerns within Arsenal over tiredness and fatigue taking their toll on the players, and their playing time paints a stark picture.

Eight of Wednesday night’s starting XI – David Raya, Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, Declan Rice, captain Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz – have played over 3,000 minutes in all competitions this season.

Those figures exclude stoppage-time and are already more than for either of the previous two campaigns, with six league games still to play.

White, Gabriel, Odegaard and Saka have all hit that threshold in each of the last three seasons for totals in excess of 10,000, with Gabriel leading the way at 11,220. His emergence with Brazil means all bar White are now also regulars for their respective countries.

Gabriel Martinelli could yet add a ninth name to this season’s list and Arteta must work out a way to keep his star men fresh and avoid their now traditional springtime slump.

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