London: Manchester City chalked up yet another victory to maintain their stranglehold of the Premier League title race but pursuers Manchester United and Leicester City both secured important wins to enhance their top-four bids on Sunday.
Raheem Sterling’s header after 75 seconds was enough for City to win 1-0 at Arsenal — a result much more comfortable than the narrow scoreline suggests.
It was their 13th Premier League win in a row, and 18th in all competitions, equalled a club-record 11 successive away wins and kept them 10 points ahead of the pack at the top.
“There are 39 points to play for and we need the victories to be champions and we will try in the next games,” said City boss Pep Guardiola, bidding for his third title in four seasons. “We only think of the next game, this is the only secret.” United and Leicester are both on 49 points with United in second place on goal difference after they secured a 3-1 home victory over struggling Newcastle United in Sunday’s late game.
Marcus Rashford fired a lacklustre United ahead out of the blue in the 30th minute but Allan Saint-Maximin’s volley got Newcastle back on level terms.
Daniel James put United back into the lead after the break before Bruno Fernandes sealed the points with a penalty.
“It’s always difficult after an away game in Europe,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of United’s flat start against Newcastle. “It took us until halftime to get going.” Leicester had earlier gone second by beating Aston Villa 2-1 thanks to first-half goals by James Maddison and Harvey Barnes.
Villa suffered a blow with playmaker and captain Jack Grealish ruled out with a leg injury but pushed Leicester hard after the break with Bertrand Traore halving the deficit. Leicester did enough though to please manager Brendan Rodgers.
“I thought some of our football and the speed of our game was really, really good. We didn’t have too many concerns defensively,” Rodgers said.
With Chelsea being held on Saturday by Southampton and champions Liverpool crumbling to a first home defeat by Everton for 23 years, West Ham United took the chance to move into the top four with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
It is the first time since 1986 that the Hammers are as high as fourth after at least 25 games of a top-flight campaign and hopes of European football are soaring in London’s East End.
Michail Antonio gave West Ham an early lead and Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard doubled their advantage just after the interval before Lucas Moura’s header made it a nervy final 25 minutes for the hosts.
“The players have been finding ways to wrestle points off the opposition,” said West Ham manager David Moyes, whose side have won seven of their last nine league games.
“They have done a brilliant job. You need a bit of luck along the way but we had all the right things.” For Tottenham, a season that promised a title challenge when they topped the standings in December is disintegrating after a fifth defeat in six league games heaped pressure on manager Jose Mourinho who suggested a top-four finish was now very difficult, considering they are ninth, nine points behind West Ham.
“I wouldn’t say crisis. I’d say a really bad run of results. We are losing too many matches,” Mourinho said.