Three talking points from the Premier League

Derby delight: Arsenal are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League after beating Tottenham 2-0

London (AFP) – Arsenal tightened their grip on the Premier League title race after a weekend of two dramatic derbies saw the Gunners pull eight points clear of Manchester City.

City blew a late lead to lose 2-1 at Manchester United in controversial circumstances on Saturday before Arsenal took advantage with a dominant first half display to win 2-0 away at Tottenham.

United’s victory and another win for Newcastle saw them open up a five-point cushion in the race for top-four finish.

It is much tighter at the bottom of the table with just two points separating Leeds in 14th from Southampton in 20th.

AFP Sports looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.

Arsenal’s title to lose

A 3-0 defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in May sent Arsenal into a spiral that saw them miss out on the top four for the sixth consecutive season.

Eight months on and any doubters of Mikel Arteta’s men’s ability to last the course must be beginning to waiver.

Only Liverpool in 2018/19 have failed to win the Premier League title after taking at least 47 points from their opening 18 games.

Moreover, City do not appear the juggernaut they have been in recent seasons with Pep Guardiola accusing his side of complacency in their 2-0 League Cup exit to Southampton last week.

The World Cup break means there remains over half the season to play, including two meetings between Arsenal and City.

The disparity in squad depth between the two sides also offers City hope. Arsenal were gazumped by Chelsea’s 100 million euro offer in the chase to sign Ukrainian international Mykhailo Mudryk on Sunday.

But if Arteta can keep his key players fit, Arsenal look set to end a 19-year wait to be crowned champions.

Simply the ‘worst’ for Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp branded Liverpool’s 3-0 destruction at the hands of Brighton the worst performance he could recall in his entire managerial career.

Simply the ‘worst’: Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Brighton  © Glyn KIRK / AFP

Klopp approached the travelling support at the Amex with his hands out in apology and took responsibility for his side’s remarkable slump from quadruple chasers last season to also-rans so far this campaign.

“The same players played outstanding football matches but if things aren’t properly organised then it can look like that,” said Klopp. “My responsibility, I know that.”

Sitting ninth in the table, Liverpool are a distant 10 points off the top four.

With a midfield badly in need of an overhaul and the club up for sale, missing out on the Champions League next season for the first time in seven years could barely come at a worse time.

But that now seems inevitable with Klopp seemingly at a loss at how to turn the sinking ship around.

New year sack race

At the bottom of the table, the pressure is rising with a number of top-flight bosses hanging on to their jobs by a thread.

Sack race?: Everton boss Frank Lampard is the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to face the axe  © Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

Frank Lampard is the favourite to be next Premier League manager sacked after Everton’s 2-1 home defeat to Southampton amid unrest at Goodison Park left the Toffees off the foot of the table only on goal difference.

But West Ham manager David Moyes, Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers, Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil and Jesse Marsch of Leeds are also facing increasing calls from fans to go after a poor start to the year.

Moyes has led West Ham into Europe the past two seasons, but the Hammers are now in the relegation zone despite spending over £100 million in the summer transfer market.

Leicester and Bournemouth have both lost all four league games since the World Cup break, while Leeds have taken just two points from their last five matches.

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