London (AFP) – North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were both held to goalless draws on Saturday, handing Manchester City the initiative in the nascent Premier League title race.
Spurs drew 0-0 at Bournemouth, before Arsenal were held at home by promoted Middlesbrough, nudging Arsene Wenger’s side a point above previous leaders City, who host Southampton on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki and Christian Fuchs were all on target as champions Leicester City ended a three-game winless run in the league by crushing Crystal Palace 3-1.
“It is a game where you had a lot of possession, but there were tired legs and you are prone to counter-attacks,” said Arsenal manager Wenger, who was celebrating his 67th birthday.
“You make it difficult for yourself. Seventy-five percent possession, but you could have lost the game. That is modern football.
“When you are not sharp, you lack creativity in the final third. I must say, we gave everything, but we did not have the legs today.”
Arsenal, 6-0 winners over Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League in mid-week, were seeking an eighth successive win in all competitions.
Despite the hosts dominating the first half at the Emirates Stadium, Middlesbrough came closest to breaking the deadlock when Gaston Ramirez curled a 21st-minute free-kick against the post.
The pattern of play did not change in the second period, but still Boro resisted, with goalkeeper Victor Valdes producing a full-stretch save to thwart Alexis Sanchez.
Tottenham extended their unbeaten start to the season to nine games — something they last achieved in 1990 — but squandered a chance to go top in a 0-0 draw at Bournemouth.
Both teams hit the woodwork in the early stages, Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris diverting Charlie Daniels’s shot onto the bar and Erik Lamela clipping the post from distance.
“We had control, but we didn’t create enough chances to score,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino told Sky Sports.
“I think we need to be pleased in the end because it’s one point more, one clean sheet, but it’s true for us to be contenders we should be winning the games like today.”
– Shaqiri, Shaqiri –
With Arsenal and Spurs slipping up, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool can go top if they beat West Bromwich Albion by two goals or more in the late game at Anfield.
Leicester did not need Jamie Vardy as they won 3-1 at home to Palace to climb to 12th.
With Vardy starting on the bench after a groin injury, strikers Musa and Okazaki struck either side of half-time at the King Power Stadium.
Fuchs sealed victory in the 79th minute, the Austrian left-back netting from distance with a sensational strike to register his first Leicester goal.
Yohan Cabaye replied late on for Palace.
“That was our best performance so far this season,” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. “It was the shape and model of last season and we concentrated on doing our job.”
Sixth-place Everton squandered a chance to make ground on the leading sides in a 2-1 defeat at Burnley, who took a 39th-minute lead when Maarten Stekelenburg’s blunder gifted Sam Vokes a tap-in.
Yannick Bolasie equalised just before the hour with his first Everton goal, but Scott Arfield struck at the death to condemn Ronald Koeman’s men to a fourth league game without victory.
Xherdan Shaqiri scored two stunning goals — the first a free-kick — as Stoke City won 2-0 at Hull City to climb out of the relegation zone at their hosts’ expense.
Sunderland remain rock-bottom after Winston Reid’s goal deep into stoppage time earned misfiring West Ham United a 1-0 win at their London Stadium.
Swansea City stayed second from bottom after Bob Bradley’s first home game as manager concluded in a 0-0 draw with Watford.