Three Premier League talking points

Liverpool’s Egyptian striker #11 Mohamed Salah shoots the ball but fails to score during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on March 31, 2024. AFP

Liverpool seized pole position in the Premier League title race as Mohamed Salah inspired a vital victory over Brighton.

Arsenal surrendered top spot after their gritty draw with Manchester City, while Manchester United’s hopes of a top four finish are fading.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the weekend’s action:

Arsenal’s new-found steel subdues Man City

Arsenal may have lost first place after Sunday’s goalless draw at Manchester City, but they showed how far they have come under Mikel Arteta in preventing the champions from scoring at home for the first time in two years.

Mikel Arteta’s team had crumbled down the final straight in the title race last season, never more so than a 4-1 thrashing against City at the Etihad Stadium.

Indeed, the Gunners had lost their previous eight away trips to City.

But they have now emerged unbeaten from three meetings with the English champions this season after winning the reverse fixture 1-0 in October and lifting the Community Shield on penalties.

Arsenal boast the best defensive record in the Premier League and City had precious few clear chances to show for 72 percent possession.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Pep Guardiola’s side, who are chasing a second successive treble but now find themselves three points behind Liverpool and one adrift of Arsenal with nine games left.

Salah makes up for miscues

Jurgen Klopp never doubted Mohamed Salah would finish as Liverpool’s match winner after the Egypt star made amends for some unusual misses with the crucial goal in Sunday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton.

Salah wasted several chances during a tense tussle at Anfield, with Liverpool falling behind to Danny Welbeck’s rocket after 85 seconds.

Luis Diaz’s volley from Salah’s header drew Liverpool level before half-time.

Salah had 12 attempts on goal, his most in a Premier League match and the most on record by a Liverpool player in the competition.

It was also the most by any player in the top-flight since Zlatan Ibrahimovic more than seven years ago.

As Salah’s chances came and went, Reds boss Klopp kept the faith and he was rewarded in the 65th minute when Salah calmly converted Alexis Mac Allister’s pass.

“Imagine Mo would have finished off all the situations in his career? That would be crazy, so it is absolutely fine,” Klopp said after Liverpool moved two points clear of second placed Arsenal as the title race tilted towards Anfield.

“But then being that calm in the decisive moment with the biggest chance we had from the best football we played, then that makes a real goalscorer so we are happy with everything.”

Onana backs Man Utd for top four bid

Andre Onana believes Manchester United can still finish in the top four despite their damaging 1-1 draw at Brentford on Saturday.

Mason Mount fired United ahead against the run of play with his first goal for the club six minutes into stoppage-time.

But United were stunned when Kristoffer Ajer converted Ivan Toney’s cross three minutes later.

Erik ten Hag’s men are now 11 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, albeit with a game in hand, and eight behind Tottenham in fifth as their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League start to dwindle.

United keeper Onana is adamant they have a chance, saying: “I feel sad because we are Manchester United. Everywhere we go, we have to win. We gave away this game in the end.

“I know we will stick together because we did it in the last month. I hope we end in the top four.”

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