Allisson Becker’s worst outing as Liverpool goalkeeper was the catalyst for his team’s 1-3 capitulation at the hands of title rivals Arsenal on Sunday evening. Brazil’s number one completely missed his clearance after miscommunication with skipper Virgil van Dijk to hand Gabriel Martinelli a free run on goal in the 67th minute, then fluffed his lines in failing to tame a weak Leandro Trossard shot late on.
The Gunners victory in what was essentially a must win game slashed Liverpool’s advantage atop Premier League standings to just two points. Champions Manchester City can move level on points with Arsenal tonight if they overcome Brentford in the first of their two games in hand. Cityzens boss Pep Guardiola is expected to field recently recuperated big guns Erling Braut Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne as he attempts to gather maximum points from a side that last season beat his treble winners home and away.
Aston Villa were the weekend’s biggest winners after they pulverized bottom club Sheffield United 5-0 at Bramall Lane. In scoring four first half goals by the 30th minute, Unai Emery’s transformed Villains equaled a record that had stood for 13 years and took the 1982 European champions level on 46 points with Manchester City. Tottenham Hotspur conceded at injury time equaliser at Goodison Park to draw 2-2 with Everton and dropped out of the top four.
In Spain, the top two remained unchanged ahead of their clash next weekend after Real Madrid followed Girona in being held. Michel Sanchez’s upstarts missed the opportunity to seize Liga Santander’s leadership when they were held to a goalless draw by Real Sociedad on Saturday only for Real Madrid to follow suit 24 hours later. Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos conceded a Marcos Llorente injury time header after Brahim Diaz’s first half goal had threatened to carry the day.
The tit for tat race for this season’s Bundesliga title intensified ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster collision between the top two when both leaders Bayer Leverkusen and closest pursuers Bayern Munich won. Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen extended their unbeaten sequence to 29 games by dismissing basement club Darmstadt 2-0 via goals from Nathan Tella. Bayern Munich matched the division pacesetters by fighting back from a goal down to humble bogey side Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-1.
In Italy, Inter Milan opened up a four point cushion atop the standings by taming record Scudetto winners Juventus 1-0. Simone Inzaghi’s Nerrazzuri are on the cusp of history as they’ve already won the Coppa Italia title and have a game in hand on their pursuers. AC Milan remain third, eight points off title pace after they out-dueled Frosinone 3-2 while Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta maintained their rich vein of form by clobbering Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio 3-1.