Arsenal, Man City pile the pressure on Liverpool in EPL title race for the ages


Over to you, Liverpool. Arsenal and Manchester City have done their bit in the latest chapter of the English Premier League’s tight title race, negotiating potentially tricky away matches with victories on Saturday to maintain unbeaten streaks in the competition stretching back to December.

After City overcame an early scare to overwhelm Crystal Palace 4-2 largely on the back of Kevin De Bruyne’s masterful two-goal performance, Arsenal won at Brighton 3-0 thanks to goals from the returning Bukayo Saka, Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard.

That left Arsenal, City and Liverpool separated by just one point, with Arsenal in the lead and City a point back in third, behind Liverpool on goal difference.

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. (Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Liverpool play their game in hand on Sunday (Monday morning AEST) and it is one of the toughest of the run-in — at fiercest rivals Manchester United, who beat them in the FA Cup last month.

City recovered from conceding in the third minute to cruise to victory at Selhurst Park, with De Bruyne equaliing with a curling shot into the top corner that was so exquisite that Pep Guardiola blew kisses to his Belgian playmaker.

???????????? Kevin De Bruyne with a stroke of brilliance! ????

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After Rico Lewis put City ahead in the 47th, Erling Haaland scored his first goal in four games for City to earn De Bruyne his latest assist before he then buried a left-footed piledriver for his second goal to finish off Palace.

“Kevin won the game,” Guardiola said. “The numbers, the presence, the consistency have been amazing. He’s one of the best players in the history of Manchester City.”

City are looking good to their attempt to win the league for a fourth straight season — a feat never achieved in English soccer’s 135-year history.

But Arsenal haven’t lost in the league since December 31 and their performance at Brighton made it four straight clean sheets in all competitions.

Saka opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 33rd after Gabriel Jesus was tripped, his 14th goal this season in the league tying his career-best haul.

Havertz tapped in Jorginho’s cross in the 62nd, then played in Trossard to run through and chip the goalkeeper to score against his former club.

Mikel Arteta was pleased the experience in his team was translating into results.

“We are older. We went through a lot of moments together and you build the chemistry within the team. We signed some tremendous players as well, which helps. The squad is healthy and the momentum is good,” he said.

“My energy is the same [as this stage last season], the enthusiasm is the same. I’m just enjoying the moment and embracing it, and let’s see how far we can go.”

Aston Villa are stumbling in their bid to secure the fourth guaranteed spot for Champions League qualification, stumbling to a 3-3 draw at home to Brentford.

They’ve now won just one of their last five league games and are just three points clear of Ange Postecoglou’s fifth-placed Tottenham, who host Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Arsenal move back to the top of the Premier League ????

And the Gunners make it 11 games unbeaten to start 2024.

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Ollie Watkins scored twice for Villa, who were 2-0 up before conceding three goals in nine minutes in the second half. Watkins’ second goal made it 3-3 in the 80th.

Newcastle and West Ham claimed wins as they hunt qualification for next season’s Europa League.

Bruno Guimaraes’ second-half goal earned Newcastle a 1-0 victory at Fulham while West Ham came from behind to beat Wolves 2-1 thanks to goals by Lucas Paqueta and James Ward-Prowse.

At the other end of the table, Everton ended their 13-game winless run by beating Burnley 1-0, but they’re still just four points above the relegation zone because third-from-bottom Luton also won, 2-1 at home to Bournemouth thanks to a 90th minute winner from Carlton Morris.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton’s winner by charging down a clearance from Burnley goalkeeper Arijanet Muric and seeing the goal loop into an unguarded net.

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