Advantage Manchester City, but Arsenal can bounce back quickly

Manchester City showed it was not affected by the over 100 charges for breaking financial fair play rules by going top of the English Premier League for the first time since Nov 5, when it defeated Arsenal 3-1 on Thursday morning.

The loss was Arsenal’s second in three matches, and it now has taken only six points from a possible 15 to see City leapfrog it into first place.

Both teams have 51 points, but City has played 23 to Arsenal’s 22 games.

The London side can bounce back quickly as it plays Aston Villa away from home tomorrow (8.30pm), in the weekend’s first match.

City, meanwhile, only plays at 11pm when it travels to Nottingham Forest, which is 14th in the table.

Forest lost last weekend but has found some form recently, winning three, and drawing one, before going down to Fulham last week.

Arsenal, which had an eight-point lead over City at one stage, has looked shaky in recent weeks and also lost to the Manchester club in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Jan 28.

More worryingly, it still has to travel to the Etihad on April 27, to face City.

The Gunners’ players, however, would be delighted to have a game so soon after losing to City, particularly against a struggling Villa side that has lost two of its five matches.

Elsewhere, Manchester United has slowly crept up the standings to third with 46 points from 23 games.

The Red Devils have been a revelation under Erik ten Hag and could pounce if City and Arsenal falter in the coming weeks.

Hot on United’s tail is Newcastle, which faces a stern test against Liverpool on Sunday (1.30am).

Liverpool finally won its first game of 2023 when it defeated Everton 2-0 on Tuesday morning. It is the only team to beat Newcastle in the EPL this season.

Newcastle has 41 points from 22 games, while Liverpool is ninth on a paltry 32, but from 21 games.

The Reds, however, could reduce the gap on the Magpies to three if they win on Sunday and also emerge victorious in their game in hand.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Aston Villa vs Arsenal (8.30pm)
Brentford vs Crystal Palace (11pm)
Wolves vs Bournemouth (11pm)
Brighton vs Fulham (11pm)
Everton vs Leeds (11pm)
Chelsea vs Southampton (11pm)
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester City (11pm)

Newcastle vs Liverpool (1.30am)
Manchester United vs Leicester (10pm)

Tottenham vs West Ham (12.30am)