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Arsenal and Liverpool lose to hand Man City Premier League lead

London (AFP) – Aston Villa struck twice late on through Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey to inflict a huge blow on Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge with a 2-0 win at the Emirates on Sunday as Liverpool also stumbled in a shock 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Manchester City were the big winners of the day as the defending champions remain two points clear at the top of the table with six games remaining.

Arsenal had taken 31 from a possible 33 Premier League points in 2024 before Villa’s visit, but former Gunners boss Unai Emery derailed his old club’s charge towards the title.

“No one would have predicted our run since January. It’s come to an end today. You need to reset,” said Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice.

“I still think there will be plenty more twists and turns to go. We’re in a three-horse title race with two unbelievable sides but, as you’ve seen with other results today, the Premier League can throw up anything.”

Mikel Arteta’s men were left to rue not making the most of their first half superiority as ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martinez produced a brilliant stop to deny Leandro Trossard the opener.

However, Villa had shown their teeth as Watkins and Youri Tielemans struck the woodwork before snatching all three points.

Bailey ghosted in to meet Lucas Digne’s low cross six minutes from time.

And Watkins then moved to within one of Erling Haaland’s 20 in the race for the Golden Boot with a sumptuous finish on a counter-attack from an Arsenal corner.

Villa’s victory puts them in pole position for a place in next season’s Champions League as they move three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.

“We are not being consistent in every match like I want, but today we were fantastic,” said Emery.

Liverpool running out of steam

It was a similar story for Liverpool at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp’s men appear to have run out of steam at the business end of the campaign.

The Reds have now won just three of their last eight games in all competitions as a glorious goodbye for Klopp is at risk of fizzling out.

Liverpool had not lost in any competition at Anfield for 14 months prior to Atalanta’s 3-0 rout in the Europa League on Thursday, and suffered their first Premier League defeat at home since October 2022.

Eberechi Eze gave Palace a deserved lead on 14 minutes and only an incredible goal-line clearance by Andy Robertson denied Jean-Philippe Mateta a second.

Liverpool were much improved after the break but were guilty of missing a number of big chances.

Darwin Nunez fired straight at Dean Henderson, while Curtis Jones, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota should all have salvaged at least a point.

“I am not dumb,” said Klopp on the ramifications for the title race.

“The answer is pretty easy: if we play like we did in the first half, why should we win the league? If you play like in the second half, we can win football games.

“So if we can win football games then we will see how many we can win. We have to be around when the other guys now struggle, if they struggle.”

However, the advantage has swung firmly into City’s favour as they look to become the first side to ever win four consecutive English top-flight titles.

West Ham’s hopes of a fourth consecutive season in European competition were hit by a 2-0 home defeat to Fulham.

Andreas Pereira scored both goals for the Cottagers, who move up to 12th.

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