Liverpool Gains an Advantage in Three-Way Title Race as Man City and Arsenal Draw

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Liverpool leads the way in the race for the Premier League title after Manchester City and Arsenal canceled each other out on Sunday.

A 2-1 comeback win against Brighton left Jurgen Klopp’s team looking down on its rivals — two points ahead of second-place Arsenal and three clear of City in third with nine games to go.

“It is a great situation where the boys brought us,” said the Liverpool manager, who is aiming to sign off with a second league title before stepping down at the end of the season.

There is still some way to go in the three-way fight, but Mohamed Salah’s second-half winner at Anfield could be crucial.

Even City manager Pep Guardiola admitted it’s in Liverpool’s hands now.

“Always who is first is favorites,” Guardiola said. “Second is Arsenal and we are third.”

Victory had moved Liverpool to the top of the standings before City and Arsenal played out a frustrating 0-0 draw at Etihad Stadium later in the day.

Manchester City’s head coach Pep Guardiola gestures at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, March 31, 2024. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

The clash between last season’s top two had been highly anticipated but failed to live up to the pre-match hype, with few goal-scoring chances.

While the result suited Liverpool most of all, it was the latest evidence of Arsenal’s growing title credentials after falling away at the end of last season.

The Londoners had lost on their previous eight visits to City — including a 4-1 defeat last year that proved costly in the title race.

This season, Mikel Arteta’s team has taken four points off the defending champions, as well as winning the Community Shield against City in August. But the Arsenal manager said he was still looking for more from his players to prove they are ready to end Guardiola’s dominance with City.

“(It shows) that we are improving and that we are competing better and we are understanding how you have to play these games, but there are other steps to be made to win the championship. You have to come here and you have to win,” Arteta said. “Today we were able to draw and we have to still improve a lot to be able to do that.”

Arsenal has now had the better of both of its title rivals, having also won and drawn against Liverpool.

Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta gives instructions to his players during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, March 31, 2024. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

By contrast, City has no league wins against any of the teams above it, having drawn against Liverpool home and away.

Sunday was a chance to improve that record — but City instead slipped further adrift of the top.

“Now we don’t depend on ourselves, we depend on Liverpool and Arsenal now because we don’t play against them again,” City midfielder Bernardo Silva said. “So we need them to drop points as well as do our job and win our own games.”

Guardiola is backing his team to do just that as it targets back-to-back trebles after winning the Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup last season.

“My point of view is we are still there,” Guardiola said. “I’m satisfied. I said to the team, ‘Don’t be sad.'”

With just three points separating the top three, it looks to set to be the most open title race in recent years.

And Brighton’s performance at Anfield suggested there could still be some surprises along the way, with Liverpool having to come back from a goal down after Danny Welbeck’s strike in the second minute.

Luis Diaz evened the score before the break and Salah struck his 22nd goal of the season in the second half to secure all three points.

“So, we are there with two other teams fighting for the biggest prize in English football and we will see how it will end up,” Klopp said. “But I decided I will really try hard to enjoy it.”

By JAMES ROBSON AP Soccer Writer


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