MANCHESTER, England : The Premier League title race took another twist on Saturday as Arsenal climbed back to the top of the standings with a 4-2 win at Aston Villa while champions Manchester City slipped up at Nottingham Forest.
Despite dominating the match, City conceded a late equaliser at Forest to draw 1-1 and now trail Arsenal by two points having played one game more.
At the other end of the table, bottom side Southampton earned a shock 1-0 win at Chelsea, who continue to struggle under Graham Potter, while Everton and Bournemouth claimed valuable victories in their quest for survival.
Arsenal reinvigorated their push for a first Premier League title in two decades with two stoppage-time goals giving them a thrilling win at Villa Park.
With a high-quality attacking game going into added time at 2-2, Arsenal midfielder Jorginho saw a looping shot come off the bar and bounce off the head of Villa’s Argentina World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez for a cruel own goal.
Minutes later, with the final whistle about to go and Villa piling forward – Martinez included – Arsenal broke forward again for Gabriel Martinelli to stroke into an empty net for the Londoners’ fourth in front of their delirious fans.
It was Arsenal’s first win in four Premier League games and followed a dispiriting Wednesday night loss at home to City, who had closed an eight-point gap from a month ago.
“If you want to be at the top, you are going to have to win games in many different ways,” coach Mikel Arteta said.
“Credit to the boys. The dressing room was absolutely bouncing. It was a big effort to play less than 72 hours ago after the (City) game that we had, and after the result that we had which obviously morally was touching.”
The champions dominated possession at the City Ground against the team they had beaten 6-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season and deservedly took the lead four minutes before the break with Bernardo Silva slamming the ball home.
They should have doubled their advantage midway through the second half but the usually lethal Erling Haaland hit the crossbar from close range before blazing the rebound over the top.
That miss proved pivotal as, out of nowhere, Forest’s January signing Chris Wood tapped home at the far post to level six minutes from time and lift the roof off a damp City Ground.
City threw everything at Forest in search of a late winner but they could not break the hosts’ resistance, failing to beat a newly promoted side in the Premier League for the first time since April 2021.
“We had amazing chances but it’s football. We have to score. We did everything. You have to do it. There were too many clear [chances] to score,” coach Pep Guardiola told the BBC.
A trademark James Ward-Prowse free kick earned managerless Southampton a precious three points at Chelsea in a scrappy 1-0 win to pile more pressure on manager Potter.
Chelsea had 17 attempts at goal, five on target, their highest shot tally without scoring at home in the Premier League since May 2021.
Despite spending nearly 300 million pounds ($360 million) in the January transfer window, Chelsea are languishing in 10th place on 31 points from 23 games and are 10 points adrift of the top four.
Everton defender Seamus Coleman’s goal from the tightest of angles secured a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Leeds United at Goodison Park and moved the Merseyside club out of the relegation zone.
Everton have won each of their first two league games at Goodison Park under new coach Sean Dyche, having lost four in a row before he took over. They last won consecutive home games last April.
Bournemouth also moved out of the relegation zone to sit level on 21 points with Everton thanks to a second-half strike from Marcus Tavernier that gave them a 1-0 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The south-coast club jumped from 19th to 17th, a point above the drop zone, after their first win since the World Cup break.
Elsewhere, Fulham continued their fine season with a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion moving them up to sixth, while Brentford and Crystal Palace drew 1-1.