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Ruthless Man City go top with statement win at Arsenal

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Ruthless Man City go top with statement win at Arsenal

Clinical Manchester City knocked Arsenal off their Premier League perch as second-half goals by Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland earned the champions a 3-1 victory in a crunch top-of-the-table clash at The Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Arsenal had come from a goal down and looked capable of ending a 10-game losing streak in the league against City but they ultimately came up short as their hopes of a first league title since 2004 suffered a setback.

Mikel Arteta’s side, top of the standings since August, hit back strongly after Kevin de Bruyne’s 24th-minute opener and were deservedly level through Bukayo Saka’s penalty.

But they struggled to maintain the intensity after the break and hardly helped themselves with a succession of errors.

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City had a penalty overturned by VAR but kept probing and took the lead when Grealish fired in his third league goal of the season in the 72nd minute.

Haaland then netted his 26th league goal of the campaign to silence the home crowd and put Pep Guardiola’s side on 51 points, the same as Arsenal but with a superior goal difference.

Arsenal’s first home defeat of the season felt like a pivotal moment in the title race, although with a game in hand they are still very much in contention.

After picking up only one point from their last three games, however, they need to regain re-boot quickly.

“If you give three goals away the way we did that gives them the game. It’s a shame because we really had them,” Arteta said.

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“The margin for error against them is virtually zero. We did a lot of simple things wrong.”

Guardiola said his side were “soft” in the first half but praised the way they stepped up.

“They were better than us in the first half but we stepped forward in the second and were still in it and in the end the quality of the players made the difference,” he said.

Arteta sprung a surprise by selecting Takehiro Tomiyasu ahead of Ben White at right back while Jorginho came in for the injured Thomas Partey for his first start since arriving from Chelsea in the January transfer window.

WOEFUL PASS

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Arteta’s decision blew up in his face as Japan international Tomiyasu was pressured into a woeful back pass by Grealish and De Bruyne seized on it before dispatching a silky lobbed finish over a stranded Aaron Ramsdale.

Far from knocking the stuffing out of Arsenal, however, the hosts responded by seizing control in midfield as City looked flustered and bizarrely seemed intent on wasting time.

Tomiyasu volleyed a chance over and Saka had another opportunity but delayed his shot too long.

In the 39th minute, Eddie Nketiah, who earlier headed a chance wide, was played through and flicked a shot goalwards just before being clattered by City’s keeper Ederson.

Nathan Ake hooked the ball off the line but referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot for Ederson’s foul and Saka coolly tucked his penalty past the Brazilian.

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City almost regained the lead in first-half stoppage time when Ruben Dias’s header was flicked on to the crossbar by Ake.

Surprisingly, Arsenal self-destructed after the break and had one let-off when Gabriel pulled back Haaland to concede a penalty but a VAR check ruled the Norwegian was offside.

Nketiah was inches away from giving Arsenal the lead when he slid in to try to connect with a low cross but City began to dominate as Arsenal faded.

Gabriel was guilty of dithering on the ball on the edge of his penalty area and was robbed by Bernardo Silva before Haaland’s pass reached Grealish who fired past Ramsdale.

This time there was no response from Arsenal and Haaland, who was an injury doubt ahead of the game, sealed victory with a typically ruthless finish eight minutes from time.

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Luis Sinisterra has made his move to AFC Bournemouth from Leeds United permanent, signing a long-term deal with the Premier League team on Friday.

Bournemouth reportedly agreed to a £20 million fee with Championship (second-tier) side Leeds.

The 24-year-old Colombian had been impressive since joining Bournemouth in September on a loan spell from Leeds United, with three goals and three assists in his 17 appearances.

“I’m really happy to make this move. I’m excited to play for Bournemouth for the long term,” Sinisterra said. “I feel really comfortable here and the fans are really nice. When I meet them in the streets, they show the love.”

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Andoni Iraola’s team are 12th in the table on 27 points, but are winless in their last four games. They play Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. 

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

 Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma returned to Tottenham Hotspur this week from international duty, and both are ready for Spurs’ game with Brighton & Hove Albion, manager Ange Postecoglou said on Friday.

Son was involved with South Korea at the Asian Cup where they lost to Jordan in the semi-final on Tuesday while Bissouma’s Mali exited the Africa Cup of Nations last weekend at the quarter-final stage.

Spurs, fifth in the standings on 44 points, host Brighton on Saturday, with Roberto De Zerbi’s side in eighth place on 35 points.

“Sonny and Biss they trained well. Sonny did recovery on Thursday and trained today,” Postecoglou told a press conference.

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“He is very disappointed for Korea’s exit, at the semi-final stage you feel so close. But he gave everything for his nation, no-one could question his commitment.

“I spoke to him after and he was keen to be back, so no surprise he was back training straight away.”

The manager also played down concerns over Bissouma, after media reports that he had played through the illness with malaria at the tournament.

“No, that’s not right. He had a slight form of malaria before the tournament, but it cleared up by the start of tournament. He’s 100 percent now.”

Manor Solomon hasn’t played since September and Postecoglou confirmed that the winger had another procedure on his knee earlier this week and is still another two or three weeks away from a return.

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Another injury concern was Giovani Lo Celso who missed the last three league games for Spurs.

“Lo Celso trained all week but he’s missed a fair bit of football so we’ll see whether he needs another week or not,” the manager said.

“It’s probably, for want of a better word, the healthiest squad we’ve had for quite a while anyway.”

Spurs conceded an added-time equaliser at Everton last weekend and lost to a late Nathan Ake goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup, but conceding late is not something that overly concerns their manager.

“It’s disappointing to concede goals at any point. People will want to analyse it,” Postecoglou said.

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“I’m sorry but we’re going to be a team that will score or concede goals late. The way we want to close out games is by trying to score goals late on.

“One thing we’re not going to do is jump at shadows and try to fix the latest thing being analysed.” 

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Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

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Fils ends 'great champion' Gasquet's 956 weeks in top 100

 Rising star Arthur Fils beat fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday to end the veteran’s run of more than 18 years in the world’s top 100.

The 19-year-old Fils cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory against the 37-year-old Gasquet, who had enjoyed a remarkable 956 consecutive weeks in the top 100, peaking at number seven in July 2007.

Gasquet was defending the Auckland title and points he won 12 months ago, so the first-round defeat will see him slide down from 76th in the world when new rankings are released next week.

Fils, with a booming serve that produced nine aces, broke at 2-2 in the first set and at 1-1 in the second and applauded Gasquet as he left the court.

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“He’s a great champion. He did an unbelievable career so I’m really happy to play on the court with him,” said Fils, who reached the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open last week.

“But it was a nice match for my part and I’m really happy.”

In other action, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov looked rusty in his first match since Wimbledon last year, losing Austria’s Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 6-2.

Roberto Bautista Agut was beaten by fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4 and eighth seed Max Purcell of Australia overcame New Zealand’s 716th-ranked wildcard Kiranpal Pannu 6-4, 6-4.

The top four seeds, Ben Shelton, Cameron Norrie, Francisco Cerundolo and Felix Auger-Aliassime, all had first-round byes. 

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