London (AFP) – Manchester City took another giant stride towards retaining the Premier League title with a controversial 2-1 win at 10-man Arsenal, as Tottenham also needed a late winner to see off lowly Watford 1-0.
City are now 11 points clear of Chelsea and 12 ahead of Liverpool, who face off on Sunday with precious little more room for error if they are to mount a title challenge despite having games in hand.
Liverpool will have to cope without manager Jurgen Klopp at Stamford Bridge after he returned a suspective positive test for coronavirus.
The Reds have also suffered three other positive cases among Klopp’s backroom staff and will be missing three unnamed players due to the virus.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was also absent from the dugout after testing positive for Covid-19 for the second time earlier this week.
But that had little impact on his side’s performance as the Gunners’ continued their impressive form by pinning the champions back for the first 45 minutes.
Arsenal took the lead when Bukayo Saka swept home Kieran Tierney’s pass, but felt they should have had more of a half-time advantage as Martin Odegaard was denied a penalty for a trip by Ederson.
The home side’s frustration at the officials boiled over after half-time as City were awarded a penalty after a VAR review for Granit Xhaka’s pull on Bernardo Silva, which Riyad Mahrez converted.
Gabriel Martinelli then missed an open goal with the chance to restore Arsenal’s lead and seconds later Gabriel Magalhaes was sent-off for two rapid yellow cards.
The 10 men nearly held out for a precious point, but City grabbed an 11th consecutive league win deep into stoppage time when Rodri poked home from close range.
“We saw our champions personality to go again,” said Rodri.
“You have to push always no matter what happens. We didn’t do a great game, but we push, we never drop and we always thought it was possible.”
– Sanchez saves Spurs –
Arsenal’s lead over the chasing pack for a place in next season’s Champions League is down to two points as Davinson Sanchez struck in stoppage time to save Spurs’ blushes at Vicarage Road.
Watford have now lost their last six games stretching back to November, but looked like holding out for a first clean sheet in the league this season till the Colombian flicked in Son Heung-min’s free-kick in the 96th minute.
West Ham can move to within a point of Arsenal and back above Tottenham into fifth if they win Saturday’s late game at Crystal Palace.
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