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EURO WRAP: Premier League title race in the balance, disgraceful Arteta and, Bayern 10 from 10 and more!

Damien Kayat looks back at the weekend’s football action as Liverpool and City both grabbed Premier League wins, Arteta labelled a disgrace, Bayern go 10 from 10 and more!

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City - Premier League
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Damien Kayat looks back at the weekend's football action as Liverpool and City both grabbed wins, Arteta labelled a disgrace, Bayern go 10 from 10 and more!

PRemier League Title Race Heats Up

Premier League title race in the balance

City and Liverpool kept their wonderful cat-and-mouse game alive with convincing victories at the weekend. City set the table on Saturday with a ruthless demolition of Watford.

Despite their position, City haven’t destroyed teams this year with their usual regularity. Without a world-class striking option, they have been forced to show character and grind out results.

But Gabriel Jesus came to the fore against Watford, showcasing all the tenacity that has made him the perfect utility forward for this City juggernaut. Kevin de Bruyne was once again in irresistible form, providing another two assists in a buccaneering performance of Stevie G proportions. Seriously, one is starting to run out of words to describe this elite Belgian talent.

Liverpool answered City’s call with a workmanlike victory in the Merseyside derby. They were forced to dig in against an Everton side slipping precariously close to relegation.

The Toffees frustrated the Reds with delaying tactics and Mane could have- and perhaps should have- seen red in the first half. But Jurgen Klopp’s side got the job done in the end, heaping the pressure on a beleaguered Frank Lampard.

Scholes labels Arteta a ‘disgrace’

Paul Scholes branded Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta a disgrace after the Spaniard remonstrated with the referee on Saturday afternoon, enjoining the crowd to heap the pressure on Craig Pawson in a crucial penalty call.

Personally, I think it’s a tad hypocritical for someone from the Ferguson era to complain about heaping pressure on referees. That would be the equivalent of Diego Simeone complaining that his side were being roughed up a bit too much against City.

But I do think there is a hint of the theatricality about this Arsenal side (who have been roundly criticized for over-celebrating this season). Can you blame them? No other team in European football has their kind of schizophrenic fanbase.

Honestly, the pressure that Mikel Arteta is under is unimaginable. You have a large swathe of Arsenal supporters who will never support him- regardless of top four or anything else.

You get the feeling that their over-the-top histrionics are aimed more squarely at that section of their own fanbase. Some people just can’t warm up to him (he does have the undeniable vibe of the overzealous prefect from high school). But if he secures top four, they will have to eat some serious humble pie. Myself included.

Bayern make it 10 in a row

Die Rekordmeister completed their decade of German footballing dominance with a fitting 3-1 in against arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. It was the perfect tonic for a Munich side still coming to terms with a shock Champions League exit.

But they were all business in Der Klassiker, entertaining a raucous Allianz Area with a performance worthy of champions. Serge Gnabry scored the opener while Robert Lewandowski picked up his customary goal against Dortmund. E

mre Can pulled back a goal from the penalty spot in the second half but it was Bayern who had the last laugh, with Jamal Musiala scoring in the game’s dying embers. While you cannot diminish Bayern’s magnificent achievement, one does worry about the broader state of football in Germany.

This league has turned into a monopoly that is bereft of tension. Perhaps next year will be different. Rumours continue to swirl about a possible Lewandowski move to Barcelona. This could be one of the few things that could derail this hulking Bayern monolith.

Title surely headed to Milan

As I suspected, Napoli are going to have to wait another season to end their decades-long title drought. Luciano Spalletti’s side have unravelled in recent weeks, culminating in their shock 3-2 away defeat to minnows Empoli.

Now it looks a certainty that the title will be staying in Milan this year. Inter look the ostensible favourites to retain their crown. The current Serie A holders have returned to their best in this vital home stretch of the season.

They were emphatic this weekend, dismantling Jose Mourinho’s Roma 3-1. Marcelo Brozovic scored another cracker while Hakan Calhanoglu ran the show. Inter’s final five matches also happen to be against sides languishing near the bottom of the table.

But they will still need to leapfrog a passionate AC Milan (desperate to win their first Serie A title since 2011). Stefano Pioli’s side left it late to salvage a stunning comeback win at Lazio, with midfielder Sandro Tonali scoring a winner in the dying moments of their match.

The Italian title race seems to be going down to the wire in a fittingly stirring end to what has been a fascinating Scudetto race.

Spanish title race all but secured

Real Madrid didn’t even need to kick a ball this weekend to take one step closer to LaLiga glory. Barcelona have capitulated in pretty spectacular fashion in the last month.

Their shock 1-0 home defeat against Rayo Vallecano meant that they have lost three successive home matches for just the 2nd time in their storied history. In the process, Rayo Vallecano became just the 4th promoted side since 1997-98 to complete a home and away double against the Spanish giants.

This has left Real Madrid on the precipice of their 35th La Liga title (they need just one point from their final five games to secure the title). This is a very cosy position that allows them to put all their energy into those crunch European fixtures against Manchester City.

But they were dealt a cruel blow on the eve of this week’s semi-final, with Daniel Alaba likely to miss their opening tie due to injury. The Austrian’s unmatched athleticism has been a core part of Madrid’s success this season and he will be missed.

Player of the Week- Gabriel Jesus

Much like Liverpool’s Brazilian marksman Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus doesn’t often get the plaudits he deserves. He often sacrifices individual glory for the efficiency of the side, chasing down lost causes while the likes of De Bruyne and Foden break late from midfield.

But this weekend he had the opponent to shine, scoring four goals in a masterful display of Johnny-on-the-spot poaching. It comes as the transfer rumour mill goes into frenzy over his possible move to Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola may be wise to really ponder the Brazilian’s importance to the club. Sure, he looks almost certain to be acquiring the coveted Erling Haaland. But he must remember how versatile Jesus has been, particularly when asked to play in that unglamorous wide-right role.

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