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Arsenal returns to top of Premier League, Man City routs Aston Villa to stay close

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The three-way race for the Premier League title looks likely to go down to the wire after wins for Arsenal and Manchester City kept the pressure on Liverpool.

Arsenal moved back to the top of the table by beating Luton 2-0, while City routed Aston Villa 4-1 to go level on points with second-place Liverpool.

Just one point separates the top three teams in what is shaping up to be the most compelling title fight in recent history.

Liverpool had taken advantage of its two rivals drawing 0-0 on Sunday and moved two points clear at the top.

By the end of Wednesday’s games, Jurgen Klopp’s team was playing catch-up to Arsenal again and was ahead of City only on goal difference — even if it has a game in hand on both.

Liverpool hosts last-place Sheffield United on Thursday with the margins getting tighter at the top of the standings.

ARSENAL LEADS

The question for Arsenal is whether it can go the distance after falling away so badly at the end of last season.

The Londoners led the table for 248 days before eventually being overtaken by a City team that won its third title in a row and completed a treble of trophies which also included the Champions League and FA Cup.

Arteta’s players have already improved head-to-head against City — winning and drawing against the defending champion. But it remains to be seen how they handle the pressure with just eight league games to go.

While Arsenal was expected to beat relegation-threatened Luton at home, there was always the potential for a slip.

That never looked likely after Martin Odegaard opened the scoring in the 24th minute and an own goal from Daiki Hashioka in the 44th made it 2-0 by halftime.

A fuss-free three points without Bukayo Saka and with Declan Rice named as a substitute was just the type of performance that suggests Arteta’s team is better prepared to complete the job this time around.

FODEN THRILLS

No Erling Haaland, no problem.

Phil Foden justified Guardiola’s decision to leave his leading scorer on the bench by netting a stunning hat trick as City powered to a 4-1 win against Villa.

Guardiola had described Haaland the as the best striker in the world after he had been criticized by former Manchester United captain and now TV analyst Roy Keane. So it was a surprise to see the league’s top scorer left out of City’s starting lineup in a game of such importance.

But in his absence, Foden provided the goals with three supremely taken strikes.

With the score at 1-1 in first-half stoppage time, the England forward curled a low free kick into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

He rolled in his second with another exquisite finish in the 62nd and rifled a third into the top corner seven minutes later.

WINLESS RUN

Brentford’s winless run extended to eight games after a 0-0 draw against Brighton.

The Bees have only won two in their last 19 games in all competitions but still moved a point further away from the relegation zone after Luton’s loss at Arsenal.

Brentford in 15th is six points ahead of the drop zone.

Reporting by The Associated Press.


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