Liverpool and Arsenal slip ups leave Man City in pole position

April 15 – The race for the Premier League title has been flipped on its head following a bizarre double slip-up from leaders Arsenal and Liverpool, putting reigning champions Manchester City back in the driver’s seat with six games remaining.

Liverpool were the first to stumble, losing their cool in a 0-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace courtesy of an early goal from Eagles winger Eberechi Eze.

The match marked the first time Liverpool have tallied back-to-back losses at Anfield since 2017 after a humiliating 0-3 loss to Atalanta in midweek.

With another performance demonstrating Liverpool’s wastefulness in front of goal, a small positive for the Reds is that the match marked the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker and Diogo Jota, who have each been sidelined with injury for two months.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, asked what defeat meant for the title rice, said: “The answer is pretty easy. If we play like we did in the first half, how should we win the league? If we play like we did in the second half, we can win football games. If we can win football games, we will see how many we can win and then we want to be around when the other guys struggle, if they struggle.

“We have to win games anyway. We now have a string of four away games. That would have been tough anyway and it will be tough. We have to deal with that. The criticism in these moments is completely fine, it is absolutely right. It is all about how we deal with it. The first half we didn’t deal with it but in the second half we pulled ourselves together and should have won the game.”

With Liverpool losing in the early kick-off, it was down to Arsenal to capitalise on Klopp’s misfortune and regain their place at the top of the Premier League with a win over Aston Villa.

After impressing in the first half but with no goals to show for it, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were sunk by two late goals from Villa duo Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.

The loss not only allowed Manchester City to gain a crucial advantage at the top of the table, but also allowed Liverpool to regain their footing after a disastrous week of fixtures for the Merseyside club. A double-blow for the Gunners.

“That’s the reality right now. We knew that this moment could come and now it’s about reacting and keep ­believing,” Arteta said post-match.

“We had one of the best perfor­mances in the first half that we have had this season by far against a really good team. It should have been three or four but it didn’t happen and momentum shifted in the second half and we conceded two very poor goals. Now is the moment to stand up as a leader and a character to make yourself count. Now it’s a big test for us.”

With a view to Wednesday night’s Champions League quarter final clash with Bayern Munich, which is tied at 2-2 after last week’s first leg at the Emirates, Arteta opted to rotate his side for the match against Villa, resting Jakub Kiwior, Jorginho, Gabriel Martinelli and Thomas Partey.

“The players are frustrated and sad,” he said. “But we have a ­beautiful opportunity that hasn’t happened for this club for 14 years to go to the semi-finals of the Champions League. It cannot come at a better moment.”

Amongst the chaos, Manchester City eased to victory over Luton Town with a familiar coolness that fans have come to expect at the end of each season. With the reigning champions now sat at the top of the table, the title race has completely changed complexion with the ball in City’s court for the first time.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1716033894labto1716033894ofdlr1716033894owedi1716033894sni@g1716033894niwe.1716033894yrrah1716033894