Arsenal braced for Emery reunion as title race heats up

Arsenal braced for Emery reunion as title race heats up

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are locked in a tense battle for Premier League supremacy, with Unai Emery threatening the Gunners' grip on top spot and Phil Foden taking centre stage for the champions.

At the bottom of the table, Brentford, Everton, Nottingham Forest, Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United are embroiled in a desperate fight for survival.

AFP Sport picks out three talking points ahead of this weekend's action. Emery threatens Arsenal title dreams.

As the title race approaches its final stretch, leaders Arsenal face a potentially decisive reunion with their former boss Unai Emery.

Chasing their first title since 2004, Mikel Arteta's Gunners are ahead of second-placed Liverpool on goal difference and sit one point clear of third-placed Manchester City.

Arsenal will have no margin for error when Emery brings Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

City are heavy favourites to beat Luton and Liverpool are likely to have too much for Crystal Palace but Villa, in fifth spot, represent a much sterner test.

Emery, sacked by Arsenal in November 2019 after just 18 months in charge, has been impressive in revitalising Villa -- a stark contrast to his troubled spell in north London.

Arsenal have been in red-hot form in the league, winning 10 of their past 11 games to seize pole position, but Emery has already got the better of his old club this season, with John McGinn sealing a 1-0 win at Villa Park in December.

Phil Foden has hit peak form just in time to lead Manchester City's charge towards a second successive treble, underlined by his brilliant goal in Tuesday's 3-3 Champions League quarter-final first-leg draw at Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old England forward, who also scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa last week, said: "I seem to be in good scoring form this year. When you're scoring, your confidence is really high.

"I always believe I'm going to get a chance and hopefully I can put them away."

Foden's impact could have echoes at Anfield, where Harvey Elliott believes he could emulate the City star's influence on the title race if he were given a more prominent role in Liverpool's plans.

The 21-year-old midfielder has largely been used as an substitute by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in the team's biggest games this season.

"I want to be the player walking out, rather than coming on," Elliott said.

"I'm not a kid any more, I'm a man. I need to take responsibilities into my own hands. If that means knocking on the gaffer's door, it's going to have to happen."


Everton 'won't waste energy' over points deduction
Everton were plunged deeper into the relegation mire after being hit with a two-point deduction this week but their young defender Jarrad Branthwaite is adamant they will not be affected by that damaging blow.

The Toffees' latest punishment for breaching the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules came after they lost six points, reduced from 10 on appeal, for similar offences earlier this season.

Sean Dyche's side are now just two points above the relegation zone as they look to avoid slipping into the second tier, where they last played in 1954.

Everton, who visit Chelsea on Monday, remain confident they will beat the drop.

Branthwaite said: "We can only put in performances on the pitch and try to rectify that by winning games from now until the end of the season to keep us safe.

"If you sit and dwell on it there's no point just wasting energy."