Premier League

Arsenal’s title bid rocked by Aston Villa

Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes suffered a massive blow as Aston Villa struck twice in the closing stages to boost their top-four bid with a dramatic 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta’s side would have gone back to the top of the table with a victory, but instead, they surrendered the initiative to Manchester City after conceding two goals in the last six minutes.

Leon Bailey put the visitors ahead and Ollie Watkins doubled their lead as Villa boss Unai Emery enjoyed a second sweet win this season over the club that sacked him in 2019.

Arsenal’s first defeat in 12 league games leaves them in second place, two points behind City, while third-placed Liverpool are behind Arsenal on goal difference.

With just six games left, champions City are closing in on an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League crown. Guardiola’s rout of Luton on Saturday had knocked Arsenal out of first place.

But the Gunners should have been on a high after Liverpool suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace just half an hour before kick-off in north London.

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Instead, Arsenal produced a spluttering display that could prove fatal to their challenge for a first English title in 20 years.

It has been a dispiriting week for the Gunners, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday, setting up a tricky trip to Germany for the second leg on Wednesday.

After blowing an eight-point lead in the title race last season, Arsenal are in danger of squandering the advantage yet again.

Villa had moved up to fourth place without kicking a ball after Tottenham’s thrashing at Newcastle on Saturday dropped them below Emery’s men on goal difference.

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And Villa’s second win in six league games moved them three points clear of Tottenham, who have a game in hand in the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top four finish.

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