Home Sport Repeat battle for Arsenal and Man City in Premier League race

Repeat battle for Arsenal and Man City in Premier League race

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Liverpool’s sudden slump means Arsenal and champions City are staging a repeat of last season’s duel, although this time Mikel Arteta’s side are refusing to blink.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (left) greets Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (right). Picture: EPA-EFE, ADAM VAUGHAN

THREE have become two in the battle for the Premier League title, with Arsenal and Manchester City still virtually inseparable with the finish line now looming large.

Liverpool’s sudden slump means Arsenal and champions City are staging a repeat of last season’s duel, although this time Mikel Arteta’s side are refusing to blink. Arsenal, who host a tricky Bournemouth side on Saturday, have a one-point lead over City with three games remaining, although Pep Guardiola’s team, crucially, have one game more to play.

City could find themselves four points adrift by the time they kick off against Wolverhampton Wanderers later on Saturday, although so far they have been ice-cool under pressure.

Arsenal threw down the gauntlet last weekend with a 3-2 victory away at arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but City responded a few hours later with a 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest despite being far from their best.

Significantly, Erling Haaland returned from injury to score City’s second goal, a timely boost in their quest to clinch an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title.

While Arsenal will be favourites to beat 10th-placed Bournemouth, they will need no reminding of the threat the south coast club poses. In March last year Bournemouth took a 2-0 lead at The Emirates before Arsenal won the game in the seventh minute of stoppage time through Reiss Nelson.

It was a result that ultimately proved in vain as Arsenal buckled under City’s relentless pursuit, but that does not look like happening this time.

While Arsenal will not underestimate Bournemouth, City will be on their guard as Wolves were the first team to defeat them in the league this season, winning 2-1 at Molineux in September.

Liverpool, five points adrift of Arsenal following defeat by Everton and a draw with West Ham United, will seek to get back to winning ways against Tottenham on Sunday in the penultimate home game of Jurgen Klopp’s reign at Anfield.

Any hope Tottenham had that fifth place might be enough to qualify for next season’s Champions League was ended this week, with Germany sealing the extra place.

They are seven points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa and while they have two games in hand, defeat at Anfield would likely mean them settling for a Europa League spot.

While Sheffield United have been relegated, the battle to avoid joining them rages on with Burnley, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest fighting to finish 17th.

Second-bottom Burnley have lost just one of their past eight Premier League games and are the form team in the basement battle as they prepare to host Newcastle United.

Luton have managed only one win in their past 14 games but victory at home to now-safe Everton tonight would see them move out of the drop zone above Nottingham Forest who have a must-win clash at Sheffield United on Saturday.

Reuters

Fixtures, Saturday (SA Times) 1.30pm: Arsenal vs Bournemouth; 4pm: Burnley vs Newcastle; Sheffield vs Nottingham; Brentford vs Fulham. 6.30pm: Man City vs Wolves.

Sunday, 3pm: Chelsea vs West Ham; Brighton vs Aston Villa. 5.30pm: Liverpool vs Tottenham.

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