LONDON, April 4 — Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Luton Town yesterday despite fielding a much-changed side.

Captain Martin Odegaard opened the scoring after 24 minutes and an own goal by Daiki Hashioka after good work by Emile Smith Rowe put the hosts firmly in control on the stroke of halftime.

Mikel Arteta’s side moved into first place with 68 points from 30 games although Liverpool, who have 67, can move back to the summitwith a home game against Sheffield United today.

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Manchester City also have 67 points from 30 games after a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa yesterday.

Arteta opted to shuffle his pack with Declan Rice on the bench and Bukayo Saka not involved while Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Thomas Partey were all given starts. But his side showed their strength in depth to cruise to victory.

“Very happy. It was a really difficult game and credit to Luton, they are a very good side and make it difficult for us,” Arteta told TNT Sports.

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“We scored two good goals in the first half, in the second half we didn’t get the right rhythm. I am happy with the boys who came in, they made a difference. Now we have a bigger squad with nearly everyone fit.”

Luton, missing several key players, had their moments but remained third bottom with 22 points from 31 games, three behind 17th-placed Nottingham Forest.

Arsenal’s 0-0 stalemate at champions Manchester City last weekend proved they have the resilience to go the distance in a three-way title fight.

And they returned to winning ways in business-like fashion against a Luton side perhaps with one eye on a more winnable game at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Smith Rowe repaid Arteta’s faith in full as he was heavily involved in both goals.

He seized possession as Luton tried to play out from the back and played the ball to Odegaard who found Kai Havertz before taking a return pass and firing a shot past keeper Thomas Kaminski.

Luton enjoyed their best spell after falling behind and looked a threat on the break. But when Smith Rowe wriggled his way to the byline in added time at the end of the first half and his cutback went in off Hashioka the game was as good as over.

“I was really impressed with Smith Rowe,” Arteta said. “He has been training really well.”

Arsenal cantered through the second half, saving energy for the more testing weekend trip to Brighton & Hove Albion. — Reuters