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Arsenal regain top spot as Manchester City stumble in title race

Arsenal regain top spot as Manchester City stumble in title race

FOOTBALL: Arsenal regained pole position in the Premier League title race on Saturday (Feb 18) as the Gunners fought back for a thrilling 4-2 victory at Aston Villa, while Manchester City were held to a damaging 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest.


Sunday 19 February 2023, 10:38AM

Arsenal fought back for a thrilling 4-2 victory at Aston Villa to regain top spot in the Premier League. Photo: AFP

Arsenal fought back for a thrilling 4-2 victory at Aston Villa to regain top spot in the Premier League. Photo: AFP

Just three days after surrendering first place with a 3-1 defeat against City, Arsenal bounced back in impressive style to move two points clear of the champions.

With just minutes left at Villa Park, Mikel Arteta’s side were in danger of slipping up again in their bid to win the title for the first time since 2004.

Arsenal twice trailed to goals from Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho, only for Bukayo Saka and then Oleksandr Zinchenko to haul them level.

Deep into second half stoppage-time, Arsenal received a helping hand from their former keeper as Emiliano Martinez inadvertently deflected Jorginho’s shot into his own net after it hit the bar.

Gabriel Martinelli capped Arsenal’s remarkable escape when he tapped into the empty net in the final seconds after Martinez was caught upfield at a Villa corner.

“We are back with more belief than before because you have to turn performances into results,” Arteta said.

“The team showed a lot of emotional qualities that are needed. I’m really happy.”

Arsenal’s first victory in five games in all competitions will give them renewed belief they can pip City to the title.

The Gunners, who have a game in hand on the champions, were given a massive boost by their title rivals’ stumble just hours later.

Bernardo Silva put Pep Guardiola’s men ahead four minutes before half-time, taking Jack Grealish’s pass in his stride and drilling a clinical finish past Keylor Navas from 20 yards.

But the tension mounted as City searched for a second goal and Guardiola was booked for manhandling the fourth official after Erling Haaland’s penalty appeal was rejected following Joe Worrall’s challenge.


City were undone by their profligacy as Haaland missed a series of chances before Chris Wood tapped in Morgan Gibbs-White’s cross in the 84th minute.

“We had amazing chances but it’s football. We have to score,” Guardiola said.

“It’s one of the best games we played but we dropped two points. We should be more aggressive. There are many games still to play, we know it.”

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Liverpool got back into the hunt for a top four place after ending Newcastle’s 17-game unbeaten league run with a 2-0 win at St James’ Park.

Darwin Nunez fired Liverpool ahead from just inside the area after 10 minutes and Cody Gakpo doubled the lead seven minutes later with a close-range finish.

Newcastle keeper Nick Pope was sent off in the 22nd minute after handling the ball outside the area.

Jurgen Klopp’s eighth placed side ‒ who were the last team to beat Newcastle in the league in August ‒ are six points behind the Magpies with a game in hand.

Fourth placed Newcastle are winless in their last four league matches.

“Both goals were outstanding. When you are not in your best moment you have to fight and that’s what we did. It feels great to be honest,” Klopp said.

“It’s too early to say we are there again, but we are a step further forward.”

Everton moved out of the relegation zone with a valuable 1-0 win against fellow strugglers Leeds at Goodison Park.

Seamus Coleman netted in the 64th minute when the veteran Everton defender hooked over a cross that caught out Leeds keeper Illan Meslier, who left a gap at his near post for the ball to squeeze into the net.

Sean Dyche’s side have won two of their three matches since he replaced the sacked Frank Lampard and now sit one point above the bottom three, while managerless Leeds are in 19th place.

Under-fire Chelsea boss Graham Potter suffered another blow as bottom of the table Southampton won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

James Ward-Prowse scored his 17th Premier League free-kick ‒ one behind David Beckham’s record in the competition ‒ to give Southampton the lead in first half stoppage-time.

Chelsea were booed off at full-time after a result that left them languishing in 10th place, with just two wins in their last 14 games in all competitions and none in their last five.

Bournemouth climbed out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at Wolves.

Sixth-placed Fulham won 1-0 at Brighton, while Brentford and Crystal Palace drew 1-1.

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