MANCHESTER: Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League remains five points after Manchester City squandered the chance heap pressure on the Gunners by losing 1-0 to Tottenham on Sunday.
Everton had inflicted just Arsenal’s second league defeat of the season by the same scoreline 24 hours earlier.
But Mikel Arteta’s men were able to breathe a sigh of relief thanks to their north London rivals as Harry Kane’s record-breaking goal to become Tottenham’s all-time top scorer condemned City to a fifth consecutive away defeat against Spurs.
It was also another weekend to forget for Liverpool - who were thrashed 3-0 at Wolves - and free-spending Chelsea after they were held 0-0 at home to Fulham.
AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend:
- City let Arsenal off the hook -
Just as the tag of title favourites looked to have finally affected Arsenal’s young guns, they were handed a massive let-off by the defending champions.
Pep Guardiola’s team selection will be questioned after he left Kevin De Bruyne on the bench.
The decision to let Joao Cancelo leave on loan to Bayern Munich this week also looks increasingly bizarre as 18-year-old Rico Lewis toiled when forced to deputise out of position at left-back.
City have already lost more league games this season that they did in the entirety of last season.
Guardiola criticised his side’s lack of hunger to retain their title after they had come from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham 4-2 last month.
But a public berating has not had the impact he desired as City are currently well off the heights they have hit in the Guardiola era.
- Chelsea can’t buy a goal -
Enzo Fernandez made his Chelsea debut after becoming the most expensive player in British football history with a £107 million ($129 million) move from Benfica.
The Argentine midfielder’s arrival capped a record-breaking £320 million January spending spree from the Blues.
Chelsea’s total spending on signings in their first season under new ownership has now eclipsed half a billion, yet they are still languishing in ninth in the table.
For all the money spent, Graham Potter’s men still lack a natural goalscorer.
Chelsea have scored just 22 goals in 21 league games this season.
Kai Havertz is their top scorer with five, but the German showed he remains ill-suited as a number nine by missing a hat-trick of first-half chances against Fulham.
The solution for Todd Boehly’s consortium appears to be even more spending with a deal for RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku reportedly agreed for the summer.
But it looks increasingly likely that the Frenchman may have to sacrifice Champions League football next season if he does make the move to Stamford Bridge.
- Unforeseen European dreams -
Chelsea and Liverpool’s struggles see them looking up at Brighton, Brentford and Fulham in the table.
Brighton have shrugged off the loss of their former manager Potter mid-season and the sales of Marc Cucurella, Yves Bissouma and Leandro Trossard to Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal respectively.
Despite being made aware of their place in the Premier League’s food chain, the Seagulls continue to thrive.
Kaoru Mitoma is likely already near the top of the big six’s wishlist for the summer after the Japanese’s fifth goal in seven games secured a 1-0 win over Bournemouth to go sixth.
Brentford are just one point behind after rolling over Southampton 3-0 to extend their unbeaten run to nine league games, with Fulham are a further point back in eighth.
Manchester United and Newcastle’s progression to the League Cup final has likely ensured that sixth will be good enough for a place in Europe next season.
On current form, there is no reason for Brighton, Brentford and Fulham not to dream. -AFP