Arsenal rekindled their bid for a first Premier League title in 20 years by beating leaders Liverpool 3-1 at the Emirates as Chelsea succumbed to another embarrassing defeat, 4-2 at home to Wolves, on Sunday.
Liverpool’s hopes of sending off manager Jurgen Klopp as a champion of England were dented as Arsenal closed to within two points at the top of the table.
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Mikel Arteta admitted before the game that his side could not afford a repeat of their 2-0 FA Cup defeat by Liverpool last month if they were to keep their title hopes alive.
As in the cup tie, Arsenal dominated the opening stages but this time got their reward with the opening goal. Bukayo Saka stroked home after Alisson Becker denied Kai Havertz.
Liverpool did not have a shot on target in the first half but levelled, after a defensive mix-up, when Gabriel Magalhaes turned Luis Diaz’s cross into his own net.
The visitors repaid the favour after the break as Alisson collided with Virgil van Dijk as he rushed out from his goal and presented Gabriel Martinelli with the simple of tasks to roll into an empty net.
Liverpool missed the presence of Mohamed Salah in their push for an equaliser and were left with a mountain to climb when Ibrahima Konate was sent off for a second yellow card after fouling Havertz.
Leandro Trossard then took advantage of the space on the right side of the Liverpool defence as he surged forward and blasted beyond Alisson.
“We were ruthless when we had a chance and it feels like a big win,” said Arteta.
“It gives us momentum and the way we have done it we are back on (the title race). (I’m) really excited.”
Defending champions Manchester City remain just five points off the top but now have two games in hand, starting with a visit to Brentford on Monday, to overhaul Liverpool.
– Pochettino sorry for Chelsea shambles –
Mauricio Pochettino apologised to the Chelsea fans after Matheus Cunha’s hat-trick handed Wolves their first victory at Stamford Bridge since 1979.
The Blues were booed off by furious fans after dropping into the bottom half of the table.
Chelsea were thrashed by Liverpool 4-1 on Wednesday and their week to forget finished with an even more embarrassing loss as Wolves completed the double over the woeful west Londoners.
Cole Palmer put Chelsea ahead with a composed angled finish from Moises Caicedo’s defence-splitting pass in the 19th minute.
But Chelsea’s lead lasted just three minutes, with Cunha’s shot taking a hefty deflection off Thiago Silva to leave Blues keeper Djordje Petrovic wrong-footed.
Pochettino wore an exasperated look in the 43rd minute when Rayan Ait Nouri’s shot deflected in for an own goal off Chelsea defender Axel Disasi.
The already fraught atmosphere turned even more toxic in the 63rd minute as Pedro Neto teed up Cunha to drive in Wolves’ third goal.
Cunha’s 82nd-minute penalty, awarded when he was fouled by Malo Gusto, capped a miserable afternoon for Pochettino, who took no consolation from Silva’s close-range finish in the 86th minute.
With trips to Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Manchester City among their next three games, Chelsea could be in complete disarray by the time they face Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley on February 25.
“We are not matching the history of the club,” said Pochettino.
“It is a different project and it is a matter of time but it is difficult for me to always say (‘we need more) time’.”
– Hojlund leads United revival –
Manchester United climbed into sixth with a 3-0 win over West Ham as Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho gave the Red Devils a glimpse of a bright future.
Hojlund failed to score in his first 14 Premier League games but now has four in four as he marked his 21st birthday with a thumping strike to open the scoring.
Garnacho’s deflected effort made it 2-0 early in the second half before the Argentine rounded off the scoring six minutes from time.
“The goals today showed young players with high potential,” said United boss Erik ten Hag.
“They get used to the Premier League standards. Every game they are growing and improving and adapting to a higher level.”
However, victory came at a cost for United as Lisandro Martinez suffered a serious looking knee injury.
Nottingham Forest moved two points above the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.