Arsenal beat Brighton 2-0 on Sunday to dislodge Liverpool from the top of the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp’s men prepared for a blockbuster clash against struggling Manchester United.
Aston Villa, fresh from potentially season-defining wins against Manchester City and Arsenal, came from behind to beat 10-man Brentford 2-1, while West Ham crushed Wolves 3-0.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, runners-up to City last season, dominated at the Emirates, wasting a succession of openings but they finally broke through in the 53rd minute.
Brighton defender Jan Paul van Hecke jumped to head a corner away but could only flick it into the path of Gabriel Jesus, who headed the ball into an empty net.
Kai Havertz doubled the lead for the Gunners in the closing minutes, slotting past goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen after being found by Eddie Nketiah.
Across London, Unai Emery’s Villa fell behind to a Keane Lewis-Potter goal on the stroke of half-time at Brentford.
However, Brentford’s Ben Mee was sent off in the 71st minute and six minutes later Villa were level when Alex Moreno got on the end of a Leon Bailey cross.
Ollie Watkins completed the turnaround against his former club when he headed in a Boubacar Kamara flick-on from a corner with five minutes to go.
Villa now have 38 points from 17 games, one behind Arsenal and one ahead of Liverpool, who kick off later in the day.
• Paqueta shines –
Mohammed Kudus scored twice and Lucas Paqueta provided all three assists at the London Stadium as West Ham put last week’s 5-0 drubbing by Fulham behind them.
The Ghana forward netted midway through the first period following a swift counter-attack, finishing powerfully after he was found by the impressive Paqueta.
West Ham doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute, when Paqueta and Kudus again combined to deadly effect and top-scorer Jarrod Bowen hit the post with goalkeeper Dan Bentley a bystander.
Wolves thought they had pulled a goal back just before the hour mark but Pablo Sarabia’s tap-in was ruled out for a marginal offside.
West Ham put the result beyond doubt when Bowen finished unerringly after receiving the ball from Paqueta.
On Saturday, Manchester City let slip a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace, before jetting off to Saudi Arabia to play in the Club World Cup.
It means Liverpool can go six points clear of the defending champions if they beat struggling United at Anfield in the late afternoon kick-off.
Erik ten Hag’s men who last season suffered a 7-0 drubbing at Anfield, have lost 12 of their 24 games in all competitions this season.
With the exception of last season’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford, United’s recent record against Liverpool is dire — they have lost four of the past five meetings, conceding 21 goals in the process.
United captain Bruno Fernandes is suspended while out-of-form Marcus Rashford was once again left on the bench.
Saturday’s Premier League action was overshadowed by a shocking incident at Bournemouth, where Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest, forcing the game to be abandoned.
Luton confirmed Lockyer was responsive before being taken to hospital and was in a “stable” condition. In an update on Sunday the club said he was undergoing tests and scans.
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