Premier League highlights from weekend action as Arsenal continue revival

It was another action-packed weekend in the Premier League, as the enthralling title race took yet another twist.

Manchester United got the latest round underway with a hard-fought win over Aston Villa to move level on points with leaders Liverpool, who play Southampton on Monday night.

Leicester and Tottenham also kept pace with the top two, having secured victories over Newcastle and Leeds respectively.

Elsewhere, Manchester City produced a stunning display to overcome Chelsea, a result which piles the pressure on manager Frank Lampard, while Arsenal thumped West Brom to continue their recent revival.

And at the bottom of the table, Sheffield United's search for their first league win of the season continues following their defeat by Crystal Palace.

Here, Mirror Football brings you 10 talking points from the weekend's Premier League action…

1. Goals starting to flow for Arsenal

Three successive wins over the festive period have banished talk of Arsenal and relegation battles and the key has been manager Mikel Arteta finally igniting the attack.

Arsenal's goal tally was meagre heading into Christmas but eight goals in three games, including a 4-0 win at West Bromwich Albion, shows Arteta has found the right balance.

Alexandre Lacazette, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka formed a three-pronged attack and combined to produce a goal for Saka that resembled the football played by Arsenal at the height of the Arsene Wenger era.

With Kieran Tierney scoring a sensational opener, Arsenal suddenly look full of goals and the pressure on Arteta is lifting.

2. Woeful West Brom show no signs of recovery

West Bromwich Albion's draw with Liverpool is beginning to look like the exception that proves the rule.

Since then they have suffered two horrible home defeats against Leeds (0-5) and Arsenal (0-4) and relegation battle specialist Sam Allardyce looks as though he might have taken on a challenge that is too big even for him.

West Brom have conceded 13 goals and picked up only one point in Allardyce's four games in charge and he will have to shore up his defence if they are to have any hope.

3. Ominous signs as Man City start to click

Sixteen sublime minutes at Stamford Bridge on Sunday were enough for Manchester City to prove they are still a major player in the title race this season, despite a slow start.

Goals by Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne ripped Chelsea apart as City claimed a 3-1 win to move up to fifth and within striking range of leaders Liverpool and Manchester United having played a game less.

City's best performance of the season was achieved with six players missing as a result of COVID-19 while Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez were only on the bench.

With five of their next six league games against teams in the bottom seven, expect a City surge before a February trip to Liverpool.

4. Pressure on Lampard grows

While Manchester City's defence has emerged as the finest in the Premier League, Chelsea's has declined after an impressive start to the season.

Against City, the Blues conceded three first-half goals in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge for only the second time in their history.

They were unpicked by Phil Foden's running and Kevin De Bruyne's masterful through-balls – and the result places Lampard under greater pressure.

Chelsea have managed just one win in their last six games, losing four of those to slip from title contenders to eighth place in a matter of weeks.

Lampard must find solutions quickly.

5. United setting stage for high-octane clash with Liverpool

Manchester United's 2-1 win over Aston Villa has set the stage for a highly-anticipated clash with traditional rivals Liverpool at Anfield on Jan. 17 with the title race looking set to be the closest in years.

Having suffered false dawns under three managers since they won their last league title in 2013 in Alex Ferguson's final season, United now have an identity under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

They are unbeaten in 10 league matches and even if Solskjaer is doing his best to play down their title ambitions, he knows that in this most strange of seasons, United are in the mix.

6. Pogba's key role

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found a different role for Paul Pogba as speculation continues to surround the midfielder's future.

Pogba had been played in a deeper midfield role against Wolves last week, and struggled to impose himself on the game as United left it late to snatch a winner.

But he was crucial to the victory over Villa after starting on the left-hand side of the Red Devils' attack, with Marcus Rashford switched over to the right flank.

The change to the team set-up was instrumental in United's first-half opener.

Pogba beat his man with an exquisite flick before finding Rashford on the right, with the striker releasing Aaron Wan-Bissaka who fired in the cross for Martial to head home.

The French midfielder then played a key role in United's second, winning a penalty within two minutes of his side conceding an equaliser.

7. Grealish shows his class

Grealish's cross for Traore's goal wasn't the first time he had split United's defence in search of an equaliser.

The Villa star took the game by the scruff of the neck early in the second half as he looked to get his side back in the game.

Minutes before he set up Traore's leveller, he went on one of his marauding runs down at United's right flank and fashioned a similar chance for Ollie Watkins.

The Villa striker rose well to fire a header on goal, and David de Gea produced a fine reaction save to tip over the bar.

Grealish wasn't done after Villa's equaliser, and carved out several more chances after United regained the lead.

Incidentally, De Gea was playing his 327th Premier League game – putting him fifth on United's all-time list and breaking Roy Keane's record for the most the Red Devils appearances in the division by a non-British player.

8. Tottenham need more than Son and Kane

If Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur side are to mount a sustained challenge for the title they must stop being so reliant on Son Heung-min and Harry Kane.

Mourinho described them as "telepathic" after both scored in the 3-0 win over Leeds United to end a run of four games without a league win. Kane's pass for Son's goal means they have already combined for 13 league goals this season — equalling a Premier League record for a whole season and they have 22 league goals between them this season.

Yet Tottenham do not look convincing. Leeds dominated possession and while the hosts were clinical, allowing opponents so much of the ball is fraught with danger, especially against top-four rivals with greater firepower.

9. Sheffield United running out of time for 'one big moment'

Chris Wilder has urged his Sheffield United players to draw inspiration from the team which beat the drop 30 years ago after a similarly terrible start to the season.

A 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace on Saturday meant the Blades have now set a new record for the longest winless run at the beginning of a Premier League campaign.

Bottom-of-the-table United have two points after 17 games, but Wilder has been in a similar situation before during the 1990-91 term.

Under the stewardship of Dave Bassett, the newly-promoted Blades started life in the top flight with no victory from their first 16 fixtures, but once they got off the mark the shackles were off and they eventually finished in 13th position to stay up comfortably.

On what his players need to do, Wilder said: "It has to come from within. It's not going to come from outside, it's got to come from players finding a big moment, a big half of football and finding a big result."

Optimistic words from their boss – but they're running out of time…

10. Palace take on board Hodgson's pep talk

First-half goals from Jeffrey Schlupp and Ebere Eze saw Crystal Palace return to winning ways for the first time since December 6.

After recent heavy defeats to Liverpool and Aston Villa, Roy Hodgson's side bounced back with a draw at home to Leicester on Monday before they produced a professional display against the Blades.

Defender James Tomkins felt Schlupp's fourth-minute opener was key, and added: "The manager said we had to take the second half against Leicester into the first half of this one.

"In the Premier League, you can't start slowly – go a goal down or two and it's a long way back, so we did well.

"We knew it was going to be a bit of a battle. They wanted to get their first win on the board and we didn't want it to be against us so we had to start brightly and get that first goal."

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