Manchester City remain 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League after Raheem Sterling’s header on Sunday was enough to beat Arsenal 1-0, while Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur suffered another damaging defeat at fourth-placed West Ham United.
Manchester United and Leicester City are Manchester City’s closest challengers after the Red Devils saw off Newcastle United 3-1 at Old Trafford, while the Foxes won 2-1 away at Aston Villa.
An 18th consecutive win in all competitions edged Manchester City ever closer to a third league title in four years, even if Pep Guardiola’s men did not hit their usual heights at the Emirates Stadium.
Sterling could have scored three times inside the first five minutes, but his soaring leap to nod home Riyad Mahrez’s cross secured all three points as Manchester City kept a 10th clean sheet in their past 13 league games.
“The people think it looks easy. This is so difficult,” Guardiola said. “I didn’t expect this consistency in the past month. Winning in this period these games 1-0 is what we need.”
Arsenal remain in 10th, with their best chance of a return to the UEFA Champions League next season dependent on success in the UEFA Europa League.
Spurs are just two points better off than their north London rivals in ninth place, nine points off the top four after a fifth defeat in their past six league games.
Mourinho’s men were undone by a slow start to each half at the London Stadium and lost 2-1.
Michail Antonio opened the scoring after just five minutes, before the rejuvenated Jesse Lingard smashed home the third goal of his loan spell from Manchester United two minutes into the second half.
“The results are the consequences of multiple situations in football. Mine and my coaching staff’s methods are second to nobody in the world,” a defiant Mourinho said. “Our potential is higher than where we are, so there is frustration.”
Tottenham rallied after Lucas Moura’s powerful header pulled a goal back, with Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min hitting the woodwork late on, but West Ham held on to bolster their unexpected challenge for a Champions League spot by moving two points ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea.
“We are enjoying it, but are also not going to be daft,” Irons manager David Moyes said after his first win over Mourinho in 16 attempts. “We will keep calm and hopefully keep pushing the teams at the top.”
Manchester United opened a six-point cushion over Chelsea as they deepened Newcastle’s fears of being dragged into the bottom three.
Marcus Rashford’s near-post strike opened the scoring, but was quickly canceled out by Allan Saint-Maximin in a spirited performance by the visitors.
However, a powerful Daniel James drive restored the hosts’ lead, before Bruno Fernandes stroked home a penalty for his 22nd goal of the season.
The victory keeps Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men ahead of Leicester on goal-difference.
The Foxes are determined not to make the same mistakes of last season when they let a huge lead over Manchester United and Chelsea slip away, and missed out on the Champions League on the final day of the campaign.
“Maybe a little bit of excitement gathered last season,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said. “This season everything is much calmer, knowing that you’ve got to keep going and you can’t get excited too early.”
James Maddison and Harvey Barnes struck inside the first 23 minutes as Leicester punished a Villa side badly missing the presence of injured captain Jack Grealish.
Villa were handed a lifeline three minutes into the second half when Bertrand Traore swept home Matt Targett’s cross, but they lacked the creative spark to find an equalizer.
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