EPL results at a glance: City and Gunners cut gap at the top

WITH table-toppers not in action due to League Cup commitments, the chasing pack was able to cut the deficit. Both Manchester City and Arsenal underlined their title credentials with impressive wins, while Aston Villa kept their faint hopes alive.

FocusM looks at the talking points of the weekend games played thus far.

Bournemouth 0 v Manchester City 1

Phil Fodden continued his rich vein of form by netting the winner in a tightly contested affair. Bournemouth stretched the reigning champions to the limit, especially in the second half, where they came close to finding an equaliser several times. Pep Guardiola lamented that his side only had three days of recovery while the home team had the entire week.

The Cherries improved second-half performance may have been due to City players feeling fatigued, but the visitors did enough to earn the three valuable points to take them within a point of the top.

Arsenal 4 v Newcastle 1

Scoring goals for fun is what the Gunners do these days. After scoring 11 in their last two league outings, the mood among Arsenal supporters was slightly dampened by the away defeat in Europe to Porto. But normal service was resumed here as Mikael Arteta’s men completely dominated a lacklustre Newcastle from start to finish. The scoreline emphatically highlighted which team was challenging for the title and which was struggling for a European place next season.

Eddie Howe must find a way to rejuvenate the Magpies quickly or risk the season that promised so much petering out in an anti-climatic fashion.

Aston Villa 4 v Nottingham Forest 2

The noise surrounding an unexpected title tilt may have died down a little at Villa Park but this comfortable win means the Midland side is still in the conversation. Three first-half goals sealed the contest as the home side threatened to overwhelm a lethargic Nottingham Forest team. The visitors though did manage a couple of consolation goals, but it was not enough to stop them from being inexorably sucked into a relegation dogfight.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 v Everton 1

Having dominated the entire match, the home side were stung by a smash-and-grab strike by Jarrad Brainthwaite that nearly gave Everton all three precious points. But Seagulls skipper Lewis Dunk typified Brighton’s approach with a never-give-up attitude that saw dividends with a stoppage-time equalizer. Roberto De Zerbi will be disappointed that his team’s early endeavours did not result in a home win but will be pleased at the quality of football on display.

Sean Dyche desperately needs his frontline to be firing on all cylinders as the Toffees look to avoid the drop. Both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and his eventual replacement, Beto need to replace endeavour with actual goals if Everton are to preserve their top-flight status for next season.

Crystal Palace 3 v Burnley 0

New Eagles boss Oliver Glassner got off to a winning start with his first official game in charge. Crystal Palace supporters will have noted the back three adopted in a 3-4-2-1 formation that the Austrian has favoured at his previous clubs. That tactical change did not bring immediate results, as Palace once again huffed and puffed without the creative input of Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze.

It needed Burnley to be reduced to ten for the home side to finally impose themselves, underscoring the size of Glassner’s task. Vincent Kompany might as well start planning for the championship after this defeat.

Manchester United 1 v Fulham 2

After stringing together a couple of wins, a home defeat will once again raise questions surrounding Erik ten Hag’s suitability in the Old Trafford hot seat. The Dutchman has always asked supporters to “trust the process” but it does seem to be a case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’. This represents the home side’s 10th defeat of the season and puts Manchester United eight points off fourth place, highlighting how far off the pace they are with the current crop of pacesetters.

The new minority owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, had brazenly stated he intended to knock Manchester City off their perch. Maybe less lofty ambitions need to be in place first, such as beating Fulham at home. – Feb 25, 2024



All photo credited to The Guardian

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