Manchester City took advantage of Liverpool’s stumbling block in the Premier League title race, as the champions got one step closer to retaining their crown with a 5-0 smashing Newcastle on Sunday. Elsewhere on a dramatic day on both sides of the table, Arsenal beat relegated Leeds 2-1 to raise their bid for a top four spot. Pep Guardiola’s side took control at the Etihad Stadium before half-time thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte. Rodri took City’s third after the break before Phil Foden and Sterling struck in stoppage time as they stormed back to the top of the table.
Liverpool had knocked the champions from pole position despite losing two points in a 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Saturday.
But City are now three points clear of Liverpool with three games to go for both teams. Guardiola’s men have a goal difference of four better than the Reds.
Four-time chasing Liverpool come into action at Aston Villa on Tuesday, while City go to Wolves 24 hours later.
City’s walk against Newcastle was the ideal way to recover from their painful departure in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
Real had scored twice in the closing seconds of normal time before winning in extra time, leading Guardiola to lament there were “no words to” help his players get over the loss.
But City can exorcise those demons by winning a fourth English title in five seasons and this was a step in the right direction.
“We’ve been doing this every three days for five years. If some people doubted us, they don’t know this team. It’s one of the best groups I’ve ever trained in my life,” Guardiola said.
“Perfect afternoon. Three points, nine ponts to play for, four ahead of goal difference. Another final on Wednesday.”
City’s only concern was Guardiola’s post-match revelation that key defenders John Stones, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker will miss the rest of the season with injuries.
“Ruben, Kyle and John are out until the end of the season,” he said.
In the 19th minute, Joao Cancelo nodded a cross from Ilkay Gundogan to Sterling and he dove in to head in from close range.
City doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka failed to hold on to Gundogan’s volley and Laporte scrambled.
Rodri scored with a header in the 61st minute from a corner by Kevin De Bruyne, after which Foden led Oleksandr Zinchenko’s shot into the net in the 90th minute.
Sterling rounded out the loss in stoppage time with a cool end to Jack Grealish’s pass.
Eddie Nketiah, a former Leeds mercenary, scored twice in the opening 10 minutes at the Emirates Stadium as Mikel Arteta’s side took their fourth consecutive win.
Leeds had skipper Luke Ayling sent off and although Diego Llorente got one back in the 66th minute, it was too little, too late for Jesse Marsch’s wrestlers.
Fourth-placed Arsenal are four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, with three games remaining for both teams in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.
– Everton out of the bottom three –
Arsenal will visit Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, knowing that a win in the North London derby would guarantee their first Champions League campaign since 2016/17.
“We are going for that game with the same enthusiasm that we always do, but knowing that this could be a decisive moment,” said Arteta.
Leeds fall into the relegation zone and are third at the bottom due to a worse goal difference than Burnley.
“Our backs are against the wall. We are in the relegation zone, but we have to fight for our lives,” said Marsch.
Everton took full advantage of Leeds’ stumbling block to climb out of the bottom three when they won 2-1 at Leicester – their first away success in the league since August.
Ukrainian left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko scored Everton’s opener in the sixth minute.
Patson Daka equalized for Leicester, but Mason Holgate won it with a close-range strike in the 30th minute.
Everton, which hopes to avoid a relapse to the second tier for the first time since 1954, are one point above the relegation zone with a game in hand.
“We are still in a relegation battle. If we want to get out, it has to be together as a club. We have seen that in recent weeks,” said Everton boss Frank Lampard.
West Ham crushed relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road to ease the pain of their Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
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