City, Arsenal close in on Liverpool, Fulham stun Man United

Monday, Feb 26, 2024

MANCHESTER: Manchester City and Arsenal closed in on Premier League leaders Liverpool with contrasting victories on Saturday as Manchester United’s bubble was burst by Fulham.

With Liverpool in League Cup final action on Sunday, the tightest of title races was squeezed further as City edged to a 1-0 victory at Bournemouth to cut the gap to one point.

Arsenal showed again they are a force to be reckoned with as they outclassed Newcastle United 4-1 -- taking their goal tally from the last three leagues games to 15.

Liverpool have 60 points with champions City on 59 and Arsenal on 58, all three teams having played 26 games. It is the closest three-horse title race in the Premier League for 10 years when Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea’s battle went to the wire.

The gap between the leading three to United was evident again as Fulham won at Old Trafford for the first time in more than 20 years after Alex Iwobi’s stoppage-time goal earned them a surprise 2-1 victory.

United’s first loss in six league games left them eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, who bolstered their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League with a 4-2 home victory over struggling Nottingham Forest.

Crystal Palace gave new manager Oliver Glasner a dream start with a 3-0 win over 10-man Burnley to ease their relegation fears and push their opponents closer to the drop.

Everton were denied a vital victory in their survival battle as Lewis Dunk headed a stoppage-time equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw for 10-man Brighton and Hove Albion. Phil Foden’s ninth league goal of the season proved enough for champions City to overcome Bournemouth although it was not the usual slick display by Pep Guardiola’s side.

Foden struck in the 21st minute as he coolly slotted in after Erling Haaland’s shot had been saved by Neto. “The players surprise me every time, the character, always competitive when they are tired,” Guardiola said after his side’s unbeaten league run stretched to 11.

“Winning 0-5 is not a reality. Hopefully we can have a week off soon to rest the legs.” While City showed the priceless ability to eke out victories when not at their usual levels, Arsenal were simply unstoppable as they bounced back impressively from defeat by Porto in the Champions League.

An own goal by Sven Botman and a simple Kai Havertz finish put Arsenal 2-0 up at the break before Bukayo Saka and Jakub Kiwior struck to wrap up the points before substitute Joe Willock scored a consolation for Newcastle. As City eye a fourth successive league title, United’s problems re-surfaced at Old Trafford to dilute the mood of optimism.