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Three talking points from the English Premier League weekend

Manchester City showed no signs of a Champions League hangover on a weekend that could prove decisive in the battle for the Premier League title as they stretched their lead at the top of the table to three points.

City demolished Newcastle 5-0 at the Etihad after Liverpool dropped points at Anfield for the first time since October in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

Dropped points for Spurs also allowed Arsenal to open up a four-point lead in the battle for fourth and Champions League football next season.

At the bottom it was Everton’s weekend as they secured a rare away win at Leicester, while Burnley and Leeds were beaten.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.

City’s title to lose

City may have thrown away a place in the Champions League final by blowing a two-goal lead late on against Real Madrid in midweek, but they are refusing to let their Premier League title slip away.

Liverpool had taken 40 points from the last possible 42 in the Premier League prior to being held by Spurs and yet still look set to fall short.

“If some people doubted us they don’t know this team,” said Guardiola on City’s response.

The manner of the victory also boosted City’s goal difference to four better than Liverpool’s, meaning they might just need six points from the final three games to guarantee a fourth title in five years.

Sterling and Jack Grealish have been peripheral figures on the big occasion for Pep Guardiola of late, as evidenced by the fact they started on the bench at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

But the England internationals shone on a day City showed Newcastle the gulf they have to breach in the years ahead if they are to become title contenders thanks to the backing of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

Manchester Utd embarrased on the beach

Surveying the wreckage of Manchester United’s wretched season after a 4-0 humiliation at Brighton, Bruno Fernandes admitted his chastened team deserves the venom aimed at them by furious fans. 

Fernandes and company were forced to endure chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” and other abusive taunts from United supporters at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Ralf Rangnick’s team are guaranteed to finish with their lowest points tally of the Premier League era and can no longer qualify for the Champions League.

Fernandes was United’s captain for one of their worst defeats in a season littered with embarrassing results and he offered no excuses for their tame surrender.

“What we did today, what I did today, was not enough to be in a Man Utd shirt and I accept it,” said Fernandes.

“The fans have been through bad things seeing their club this season. They support us until the end with different chants. Whatever they want to think, fair enough from them.”

Clinching a Europa League spot is the best sixth-placed United can do ahead of incoming manager Erik ten Hag’s arrival from Ajax in the close-season.

Everton end away day blues

The last time Everton won away in the Premier League it was August and Rafael Benitez was beginning to win over the skeptics of his appointment.

Nine months with Benitez long since sacked and only two points on the road in the last 14 games, the Toffees finally ended that barren run to climb out of the relegation zone.

Defenders Vitalii Mykolenko and Mason Holgate were the unlikely goalscorers in a 2-1 win at Leicester.

Everton are now a point clear of the relegation zone and have a game in hand over both Leeds and Burnley.

Frank Lampard’s men will also be confident of extending that cushion with a trip to already-relegated Watford in midweek before hosting Brentford and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park.

“(It is defining) only if we make it defining but it’s a huge result for confidence,” said Lampard.

“A week ago on Saturday we were five points from safety and now we’re a point safe but there is more to do. We can buy into it but we have to make sure we protect against over confidence.”

Leeds are now in the bottom three after losing 2-1 at Arsenal, but it could have been a far worse weekend for Jesse Marsch’s side had Burnley’s winning run not come to a halt in a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Saturday.

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