Arsenal swapped places with Liverpool in the latest installment of what is shaping up to be the most closely contested title races in years. Mikel Arteta’s Gunners dismissed a spirited challenge from Roberto de Zerbi’s Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 via second half goals by Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz to climb to the apex of Premier League standings with 39 points, one more than Liverpool who were held to a barren stalemate by Manchester United despite mustering 34 shots on goal.
Unai Emery’s transformed Aston Villa moved level on points with Liverpool by seeing off Brentford 2-1 in a bad tempered match. The 1982 European champions are strong contenders to clinch a top four berth for the first time in three decades as they hold a four point cushion over reigning titlists Manchester City who conceded a 95th minute penalty to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace. Pep Guardiola’s treble winners have now won just one of their last five EPL encounters.
In Germany, Bayer Leverkusen were crowned Bundesliga winter champions after they brushed aside Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 to maintain a four point cushion over reigning champions Bayern Munich who matched their result in Sunday’s late kick off. Victor Boniface, Jeremy Frimpong and Florian Wirtz were on target for the Bay Arena outfit as they threw down the gauntlet to Bayern Munich whose response against Stuttgart came through a pair of goals from Bundesliga top scorer Harry Kane and South Korean Kim Mi-Jae.
RB Leipzig overtook Stuttgart in the standings by pummelling hard battling Hoffenheim 3-1 to move to 32 points but Borussia Dortmund lost further ground in the title race after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Augsburg. Edin Terzic’s perennial bridesmaids have finished as runners up in seven out of the last eleven seasons but even that may be beyond them as the draw left them with 26 points, a solid 13 points off title pace.
Across the Swiss Alps, Inter Milan underlined their title credentials by taming Lazio 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico courtesy of goals from Capocannonieri top contender Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram. Victory took Simone Inzaghi’s Nerrazzuri to 41 points, four more than record Scudetto winners Juventus who were held to a 1-1 draw at Genoa. AC Milan are third thanks to their 3-0 evisceration of Monza but Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma lost further ground in the title race after they fell 0-2 at Bologna.
In France, Paris Saint Germain opened up a five point cushion atop the table despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Lille Metropole. Kylian Mbappe Lottin’s penalty was cancelled by Jonathan David’s late leveller for Lille but PSG didn’t pay the price because closest pursuers Nice were ambushed 3-1 at lowly Le Havre. Monaco stayed third inspite of their 0-1 home setback to Olympique Lyon whose three points saw them climb off the foot of Ligue One’s standings.
It’s crisis time for Liga Santander champions Barcelona who were held to a one-all draw at Valencia after Joao Felix witnessed his goal cancelled out by a Hugo Guillamon equaliser. Real Madrid took temporary leadership of the standings by clobbering Villarreal 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu via goals from top scorer Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo Goes and Luka Modric. Long time pacesetters Girona can return to the summit if they overcome lowly Deportivo Alaves tonight.