Three talking points from the Premier League
Arsenal’s bid to win the Premier League is under threat after a dramatic draw against Southampton tipped the balance in Manchester City’s favour.
Tottenham were humiliated by top four rivals Newcastle, while Leicester and West Ham improved their prospects of avoiding relegation.
AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League this weekend:
Arsenal face Man City ‘final’
Gabriel Jesus insists Arsenal are ready for their “final” against Manchester City despite a damaging 3-3 draw with Southampton that surrendered the title race momentum.
Mikel Arteta’s side have cracked under the intense pressure of chasing a first title since 2004.
With relentless City breathing down their necks, the Gunners drew for a third successive game, recovering from 3-1 down against Southampton to earn a point that felt more like a defeat in the cold light of day.
Despite Bukayo Saka’s 90th minute equaliser, which came two minutes after Martin Odegaard’s goal sparked Arsenal’s late escape, the nervous north Londoners head to City on Wednesday knowing they are in serious danger of blowing the title.
Arsenal have a five-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s second placed team, but the champions have two games in hand and defeat at the Etihad Stadium could prove fatal.
“We have to face them like a final. This is the most important game of the season for us,”
“We have to manage ourselves to come back and be focused again. This is the Premier League, it’s so difficult to win this competition.”Gunners forward Jesus said of playing his old club.
Tottenham in turmoil
Just 21 minutes had gone at St James’ Park and dejected Tottenham fans were already streaming to the exits after watching their troubled side torn apart by Newcastle.
Those Tottenham devotees had set off for Tyneside with hopes of a victory that would catapult their team back into the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top four finish.
Instead, they made the long journey home assailed by depressing thoughts of Tottenham being cast into Champions League exile as they face an uncertain future on and off the pitch.
Tottenham’s 6-1 defeat was the nadir of a wretched campaign that had already featured a spectacular rant from since departed boss Antonio Conte, in which the Italian called his players “selfish” and criticised the culture of a club without a major trophy since 2008.
Sitting six points behind fourth placed Manchester United and having played two games more than Erik ten Hag’s side, it will take a miracle for fifth placed Tottenham to get into the top four.
“There are no words to explain a performance like this. The first 25 minutes were maybe the worst I have ever seen,”
“What I can say is we have to apologise to everyone. Today is my responsibility.”Interim boss Cristian Stellini said.
Relegation battle intensifies
Leicester and West Ham earned valuable victories to boost their survival bids, leaving Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Everton in the relegation zone.
Timothy Castagne’s first goal since August gave Leicester a precious 2-1 win over Wolves as the Foxes climbed out of the bottom three.
Leicester’s first victory in 10 league games was Dean Smith’s maiden three points since he replaced the sacked Brendan Rodgers.
But Leicester travel to fellow strugglers Leeds on Tuesday before hosting Everton next Monday.
“It means nothing, we need to keep climbing out of there and separate ourselves as much as we can,”Smith said.
West Ham’s 4-0 rout of Bournemouth lifted them six points clear of the relegation zone thanks to goals from Michail Antonio, Lucas Paqueta, Declan Rice and Pablo Fornals.
Bottom of the table Southampton were kicking themselves after surrendering two late goals in their 3-3 draw at Arsenal.
Third bottom Everton’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace was little help to their survival prospects, while second bottom Nottingham Forest were beaten 3-2 at Liverpool.