Manchester City moved ominously to the top of the Premier League on Wednesday and while Arsenal can snatch back top spot, for a few hours at least on Saturday, the momentum has shifted firmly in favour of the reigning champions.
Had Arsenal beaten City in the top-of-the-table clash they could have been heading into Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff at Aston Villa with the chance to move nine points clear.
Instead, they relinquished the leadership and are in desperate need of regaining some momentum.
City, who are at Nottingham Forest later on Saturday, showed in a 3-1 win at The Emirates that even when not firing on all cylinders they remain top dogs in England’s top flight.
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While manager Pep Guardiola insists Arsenal are still the best team so far this season, pointing to the fact that they have the same amount of points (51) as City having played a game less, his team now has its destiny in its own hands.
“Now we are top of the league but they have one game in hand, it’s a long road,” Guardiola, who is chasing a fifth title in six seasons at City, said after the win at Arsenal.
Arsenal’s lunchtime kickoff at Villa gives them the opportunity to lay down a marker and move three points clear again. Mikel Arteta’s side appeared to have an iron grip on top spot a few weeks ago but a haul of one point from their last three games has dampened down talk of a first title since 2004.
Villa have suffered back-to-back defeats under former Arsenal manager Unai Emery for the first time since he took charge, but the Spaniard would take satisfaction from getting one over Arteta, the man who replaced him at Arsenal.
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