Home Sport Arsenal hurting but a victory will reignite their title charge

Arsenal hurting but a victory will reignite their title charge

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Arsenal were handed an open goal when Liverpool lost to Crystal Palace last weekend, but a few hours later, they were left stunned by a 2-0 home defeat against Aston Villa, their first Premier League loss of 2024.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reacts from the sidelines during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match against FC Bayern Munich in Munich, southern Germany on April 17, 2024. Picture: Odd ANDERSEN, AFP

A bruising few days has provided a stark reality check to the growing euphoria at Arsenal, but all is not lost for the Gunners who will now focus solely on trying to win their first Premier League title for 20 years.

Arsenal were handed an open goal when Liverpool lost to Crystal Palace last weekend, but a few hours later, they were left stunned by a 2-0 home defeat against Aston Villa, their first Premier League loss of 2024.

Those results handed Manchester City control of a three-way Premier League title race with six games remaining, with Pep Guardiola’s side leading Arsenal and Liverpool by two points.

Arsenal’s Champions League quarter-final exit at Bayern Munich on Wednesday night was another body blow for Mikel Arteta’s side, who have suddenly lost their sparkle.

There is nothing like another game to refocus minds, however, and Arsenal’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday offers the perfect opportunity to get back on track and heap some pressure on Manchester City by moving back to the top of the standings.

“On Saturday, we have a big, big, big game,” Arteta, seeking to draw a line under three successive games without a win, said. “We’re still playing for a Premier League, and I really want it.

“We have to show now that we are capable of turning this around. I can guarantee you by tomorrow, we are fully focused on Wolves and everybody’s lifted. What we still have to play is beautiful.”

Encouragingly for Arsenal, they have won their last five league games against Wolves, who are on a five-match winless run in all competitions as they sit bang in the middle of the table.

“We’ve got Wolves away, and that’s where our big reaction is going to happen,” Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice said after the 1-0 defeat at Bayern Munich.

Arsenal were not alone in suffering Champions League heartbreak with Manchester City’s hopes of a second successive treble wrecked as they lost to Real Madrid on penalties after their quarter-final ended 4-4 on aggregate.

FA CUP SEMI-FINALS

City are in FA Cup semi-final action against Chelsea on Saturday, meaning Liverpool also have the chance to climb above Pep Guardiola’s side when they travel to Fulham on Sunday.

Liverpool’s hopes of giving Jurgen Klopp a remarkable send-off in his final season are hanging by a thread after dropping five points in their last two league games, although they will certainly not be throwing in the towel in the title race.

A huge weekend is in store in the Premier League relegation battle, with three games involving the six teams scrapping to avoid the drop, and Everton’s home game against Nottingham Forest on Sunday looking like the proverbial six-pointer.

Everton, in 16th place, are one point above Forest as the clubs who have had eight points and four points docked for financial breaches prepare to do battle at Goodison Park.

A 6-0 thrashing at Chelsea on Monday left Everton stuck in the mire and defeat at home by Forest could see them slip into the relegation zone.

Bottom club Sheffield United host 19th-placed Burnley on Saturday desperate for a victory to maintain any realistic hopes of avoiding the drop. Eighteenth-placed Luton Town have a huge incentive to beat 15th-placed Brentford as victory would take them out of the drop zone.

“They’re all cup finals now,” Luton manager Rob Edwards said of his side’s last five games. “We will be giving everything to get maximum points in every game. Brentford is a huge game, and it will be an amazing atmosphere at Kenilworth Road.”

Reuters

Weekend Premier League Fixtures (SA Times)

Saturday – 4pm: Sheffield United vs Burnley, Luton Town vs Brentford. 8.30pm: Wolves vs Arsenal

Sunday – 2.30pm: Everton vs Nottingham Forest. 4pm: Crystal Palace vs West Ham, Aston Villa vs Bournemouth. 5.30pm: Fulham vs Liverpool

FA Cup Semi-Final Fixtures (SA Times)

Saturday – 6.15pm: Manchester City vs Chelsea

Sunday – 4.30pm: Coventry City vs Manchester United

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