Arsenal’s form in April looks like costing them dearly again this season after they exited the Champions League and fell behind in the title race.

After costly defeats to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich, the PA news agency looks at the Gunners’ recurring failings at this time of year.

Same old story

Manager Mikel Arteta backed his side to “write our story very differently” against Bayern and had previously called on them to recreate the aura of the 2003-04 “Invincibles”, who won the league without losing a game.

They may instead be following the pattern of Arsenal teams since then who have narrowly missed out on success, particularly last season when they began April eight points clear.

They maintained that margin by beating Leeds on April 1 but drew their next three games and then lost to eventual champions Manchester City as they finished five points behind.

Consecutive league defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton in April 2022 contributed to Arsenal missing out on the Champions League.

This season, they were top after beating the Seagulls but defeat to Villa left them two points behind City. That was sandwiched between the two legs of the Bayern tie, a 2-2 draw at home and Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat in Germany, leaving them needing to end a three-game winless run when they face Wolves on Saturday.

It is not a new phenomenon either – as far back as 2007-08, Arsenal finished four points off the top after winning only one of eight games from February 23 to April 13.

They took one point from four games in the run-in to end their 2009-10 title challenge and five from the final six games in 2010-11 to finish down in fourth, and winning their final five games in 2013-14 was not enough after they took two points from the previous four. They were top of the league for more days that season than any other team, as was the case last year with a record 248.

Same old faces

The PA news agency understands there are some concerns within Arsenal over tiredness and fatigue taking their toll on the players, and their playing time paints a stark picture.

Eight of Wednesday night’s starting XI – David Raya, Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, Declan Rice, captain Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz – have played over 3,000 minutes in all competitions this season.

Those figures exclude stoppage-time and are already more than for either of the previous two campaigns, with six league games still to play.

White, Gabriel, Odegaard and Saka have all hit that threshold in each of the last three seasons for totals in excess of 10,000, with Gabriel leading the way at 11,220. His emergence with Brazil means all bar White are now also regulars for their respective countries.

Gabriel Martinelli could yet add a ninth name to this season’s list and Arteta must work out a way to keep his star men fresh and avoid their now traditional springtime slump.

The prospect of five English clubs competing in next season’s Champions League is hanging by a thread after Manchester City and Arsenal were knocked out of the continent’s premier club competition on Wednesday night.

Here, the PA news agency explains the situation.

Why is there an extra place?

From this season, the two countries who collectively perform best in this season’s men’s European club competitions will each gain a European Performance Spot (EPS) for one of their clubs in the following season’s Champions League, which will feature a 36-team league phase from 2024-25 replacing the familiar eight groups of four.

For each of the best-performing countries, the EPS goes to the highest-finishing club in those countries who have not already qualified for the Champions League via their domestic performance. In England’s case, that would be the team finishing fifth – currently Tottenham.

How do the rankings look at the moment?

The rankings – known as the association club coefficient – are led this season by Italy. Germany were already ahead of England in the race for the second spot heading into the quarter-final second legs, but the exits of City and Arsenal – coupled with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund making progress – have widened the gap.

Last Friday – after the Europa League and Conference League first legs had been played – Germany had 16.785 points compared to England’s 16.750, a gap of 0.035. On Thursday morning the gap had grown to 0.767, with Germany on 17.642 and England on 16.875.

How are the points worked out?

Teams gain points for wins (two) and draws (one) from the start of the group phase in all three of UEFA’s men’s club competitions. Teams also earn points for participation in the Champions League group phase and for making progress beyond certain rounds in all three competitions.

The association coefficient is calculated by working out an average score – dividing the total number of points the clubs win by the number of clubs representing that country in Europe. So in England’s case any points won by the Premier League representatives are divided by eight.

Can England still do it?

In theory yes. West Ham and Liverpool could still meet in the Europa League final if they can overturn first-leg deficits to Bayer Leverkusen and Atalanta respectively on Thursday night, and Aston Villa could still go all the way in the Conference League. That, coupled with the remaining German teams stumbling, means there is still very slim hope.

But Germany certainly have the edge and could even end up with six teams in next season’s Champions League. If Dortmund finish fifth in the Bundesliga but win the Champions League, it would be the second of those achievements which would secure them their Champions League place for 2024-25. The EPS would then be awarded to whoever finishes sixth – currently Eintracht Frankfurt.

Captain Martin Odegaard has backed Arsenal to roll with the punches as they aim to keep their season on track against Wolves on Saturday.

The Gunners were knocked out of the Champions League following a 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, with the German side progressing to the semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate courtesy of Joshua Kimmich’s bullet header.

The disappointment at the Allianz Arena followed on from Sunday’s 2-0 home loss to Aston Villa that dented Arsenal’s Premier League title charge.

Mikel Arteta’s side are now two points behind leaders Manchester City and face a tricky trip to Molineux this weekend, knowing victory would take them top with City playing in the FA Cup.

The PA news agency understands there are some concerns within the club over tiredness and fatigue taking their toll on the players at such a crucial stage of the season, especially in the second half of the Villa game.

Following the two damaging defeats, Odegaard conceded the Champions League exit will hurt – but feels Arsenal have plenty still to play for.

“I mean it takes a little bit to get going again, but I think what you play for in the league is enough motivation for all of us,” he said.

“So we just have to stick together, get back up, and keep pushing. We can still do something very special.

“I think that is enough motivation to just keep going, keep working hard and pushing each other. We have to keep going.

“Every game now is so important, it has been for a while. It has been so tight and so competitive.”

Kimmich headed home in the second half after Arsenal had enjoyed the best of a tense first 45 minutes, in which Gabriel Martinelli wasted the best chance for the visitors.

Bayern now go on to face Real Madrid in the last four after the LaLiga giants beat City on penalties, meaning there is no English club in the semi-finals for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign.

“I think it was, again, a very tight game, as the home game was,” added Odegaard.

“But I think you see it in front of the goals, that’s where we lost the tie. It was a bit similar to the home game.

“We gave away a very easy goal today and we are not sharp enough in front of the opponent’s goal. That’s where the games are decided and that’s where we lost the game.

“We wanted to do more, so at the moment we are just disappointed. It has been a long time since we have been here (in the Champions League), but at the moment it is disappointing.

“We wanted to go further. We wanted to go all the way. First of all, we are disappointed, but I think we have done something good as well.

“Every time you get hit you have to stand up and go again. The key thing is to stand together and lift each other up. Then, as I said, we have something really nice to play for, so that’s where we have to put the mindset now.

“Of course we want to win something and that’s been the big goal. But I think we can’t look too far ahead, we have to take it day by day, and game by game.

“First of all, now we have to lift each other up and we have to get ready for the next game. Then we move on from there.”

Mikel Arteta wants Arsenal to end their season in “beautiful” fashion after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

The Gunners lost 1-0 at the Allianz Arena as Joshua Kimmich’s second-half header was enough to seal a semi-final against Real Madrid with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

It followed on from a 2-0 home loss to Aston Villa on Sunday that has dented Arsenal’s Premier League title chances.

They travel to Wolves on Saturday evening needing a reaction to a poor week and Arteta feels his side will approach the game in the correct manner.

Asked how painful the Champions League exit was, the Spaniard said: “It’s there.

“It’s not going to go away, certainly tonight, but I can guarantee you by tomorrow we’re fully focused on Wolves and everybody is lifted.

“What we still have to play for is beautiful. I said before it’s time to be next to these players.

“It’s easy to be behind them and praise the players and talk nice things when we win 10 in a row and one draw.

“The moment is now to be behind them and be next to them.”

After a tight game in which Bayern also hit the woodwork twice and Gabriel Martinelli missed a glorious chance to put the away side ahead, Arteta said his side are continuing to learn after returning to the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

“We haven’t played this competition for seven years and we haven’t been in this stage for 14 years,” he added.

“There’s a reason for it. We want to do everything fast forward, super quick in one season. I think we have the capacity and the quality to be in the semi-final because the margins are very small.

“Those margins are coming from something else that maybe we don’t have yet. We have to learn it. When you look historically it took other clubs seven, eight or 10 years to do it. Today that’s not going to make us feel better that’s for sure.”

While Arsenal are still relatively inexperienced at this level, Bayern are now preparing for a ninth semi-final in the competition since the Gunners last made it that far.

Manager Thomas Tuchel also becomes just the second man, after Jose Mourinho, to guide three different clubs to the final four and was pleased with the performance of the hosts.

“It’s always better to play in front of your own fans,” he said.

“With every tackle and every good action you get the support and it lifts you and gives you a second wind.

“Now it’s the semi-finals and everyone needs to step up – we need to step up and the supporters need to step up again.

“It was a chess game in the first half. Nobody wanted to make the first mistake. Everyone played a bit safe – there were moments for us, there were moments for Arsenal.

“We encouraged the team at half-time to show a bit more personality, a bit more courage. We were more fluid and played a fantastic second half. We deserved to win.”

Arsenal’s Champions League hopes were snuffed out as Joshua Kimmich’s bullet header was enough to take Bayern Munich into the semi-finals.

After an enthralling 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium last week, this tie was finely poised but it was the hosts who progressed as Kimmich headed home in the second half to seal a 1-0 win for Bayern.

Thomas Tuchel became just the second man to lead three different clubs into the last four of the Champions League and his side are now closing in on a Wembley final on June 1.

Bayern showed the sort of pedigree in the competition that comes from years of being involved in the business end of the tournament – they have now qualified for 13 semi-finals and have reached the stage nine times since Arsenal’s last semi-final appearance in 2009.

Arsenal, in fact, have never won an away Champions League game from the quarter-final stages onwards and they failed to turn in the sort of performance here that would change that.

Having lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa on Sunday to dent their Premier League title hopes, their European exploits came to a shuddering halt as Bayern’s nous eventually saw them advance.

The win also maintained England captain Harry Kane’s chances of winning silverware in his debut season in Germany, the former Tottenham striker missing out on a Bundesliga title following Bayer Leverkusen’s remarkable campaign.

Kane had a quiet evening after half a chance in the opening exchanges and it was Arsenal who enjoyed a good spell as they looked to take the lead in the tie.

Gabriel Martinelli flashed a shot wide before wiggling through a couple of challenges only to come up against the imposing presence of Bayern skipper Manuel Neuer in the hosts’ goal.

At the other end, David Raya was called into action for the first time as he saved from Jamal Musiala following a speedy Bayern break.

Neuer’s first meaningful action of the night saw him paw a deflected Martin Odegaard shot off target as he sprang up to prevent the ball running behind for a corner.

Martinelli then missed a great chance to open the scoring just after the half-hour, shooting straight at Neuer when picked out free in the Bayern box.

Bayern were fuming as they looked to catch Arsenal out after Bukayo Saka was down needing treatment and Mikel Arteta gathered his players on the touchline only for the winger to clamber to his feet.

A quick throw-in with all of the Arsenal side distracted was instead pulled back by referee Danny Makkelie, much to the chagrin of the home fans.

Bayern were second best for the majority of a largely passive first 45 minutes for the hosts, but straight after the restart they were on it, hitting the crossbar through a Leon Goretzka header before Raphael Guerreiro’s follow-up deflected against the post.

Arsenal were slightly rattled and Gabriel Magalhaes passed the ball out of play for a corner following a breakdown in communication with Raya.

Arsenal survived the resulting set-piece but fell behind soon after, Kimmich flying past a slow-moving Martinelli to power Guerreiro’s cross into the back of the net.

Arteta reacted almost immediately by turning to his bench, bringing on Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard but Arsenal’s race appeared to be run.

They struggled to create any chance of note in chasing the game, taking more and more risks at the back in doing so.

This may not have been a repeat of Arsenal’s two previous visits to the Allianz Arena, both 5-1 defeats, but it showed Arsenal are still a step below Europe’s elite.

Portsmouth sealed a Sky Bet Championship return on Tuesday with a 3-2 win over Barnsley and several other teams still have plenty to play for as another enthralling domestic season draws to a close.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the promotion and relegation issues up and down the country.

Premier League

Neutrals are gripped by the first three-way title race in the top flight for a long time. Another twist occurred last weekend as champions Manchester City returned to the summit on Saturday, before Arsenal and Liverpool suffered shock home defeats on Sunday. With six games left, Pep Guardiola’s side hold a two-point lead over the Gunners and Reds.

At the other end, an intriguing relegation battle continues – on and off the pitch. Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton occupy the bottom three spots and, while the race appears almost run for the Blades and the Clarets have an uphill task to stay up, the Hatters’ survival hopes remain alive. Nottingham Forest and Everton – in 17th and 16th, respectively – are within touching distance, as both clubs wait to learn their fates after appealing against points deductions over breaches of financial rules.

Championship

It has been a rollercoaster ride for supporters’ of Ipswich, Leicester, Leeds and Southampton this season, especially in recent weeks. With only a handful of matches left, Kieran McKenna’s Tractor Boys are top on 89 points, with the second-placed Foxes a point behind with a game in hand. However, that fixture is against fourth-placed Saints, who are not out of the top-two race themselves with a four-point deficit to previously runaway leaders Leicester. Leeds sit third, with all four still in with a shot of automatic promotion spot.

Rotherham’s relegation to League One has already been confirmed, but two more spaces need to be finalised. Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield are in the bottom three on 44 points each. Birmingham sit one point above the two Yorkshire clubs, while Stoke, QPR, Plymouth and Blackburn would not consider themselves safe as they remain below the 50-point mark.

League One

 

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After Pompey claimed the title on Tuesday, all eyes are on which club will be runners-up. Derby are second on 86 points with a three-point gap to Bolton, but Peterborough, with a game in hand, cannot be ruled out despite a six-point deficit to the second-placed Rams. Everything could be settled this weekend.

Carlisle are already consigned to the fourth tier and Fleetwood’s defeat at Peterborough left them six points from safety with only two games to go. Port Vale are 22nd on 40 points, while Cheltenham are 21st on 41 points, but crucially have a match in hand. It means Burton, especially, and Cambridge are still looking over their shoulders, with the former only two points above the bottom four and the latter holding a five-point advantage along with a game in hand.

League Two

Mansfield joined Stockport and Wrexham in clinching promotion to League One on Tuesday, but there is still one relegation spot to be determined. Colchester’s win over Grimsby ended the survival hopes of Forest Green and gave the victors a four-point advantage over 23rd-placed Sutton along with a game in hand. Sutton need to win their last two matches and hope both Grimsby and Colchester fail to win again this season.

Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane could be consigned to a trophyless season on Wednesday night, but Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou has defended the striker’s move to Germany.

Postecoglou worked with Kane for several weeks last summer before the England captain decided to leave his boyhood club in a £100million move in pursuit of a “new challenge”.

While the 30-year-old has enjoyed an excellent individual campaign with 39 goals in all competitions, Bayern’s last hope of winning a trophy this term is the Champions League after Bayer Leverkusen clinched the Bundesliga title on Sunday.

 

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Arsenal visit the Allianz Arena on Wednesday with the Champions League quarter-final finely poised after a first-leg 2-2 draw, and Postecoglou feels it would be unfair for Kane’s switch to be deemed a failure if Bayern go out this week.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” the Australian said.

“I’m not going to speak for Harry, for God’s sake, but I don’t think that’s the only reason he left. I think he was pretty clear that he wanted a different experience and I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

“That’s been my whole career. He was at one club for a very long time. He was at a point where he either makes a decision to stay and become a one-club man, which is fair enough, or he can experience something different as a footballer, maybe as a person.

“I don’t know. These are questions for him. But I don’t get this notion that he just moved just to win things.

“I don’t think if he had stayed here, he didn’t think he was going to win things. I just think he wanted a different experience and he’s getting that.

“I’m sure at the end of his career, if that was his reasoning behind it, he’ll find that it does. It gives you a real broad experience about what football is about, what life is about.

“I know every decision I’ve made in my career, it’s very hard for other people sometimes to understand because they’re not living my life.

“They’re not with my family or with the people around me to know why you come to these decisions.

“They’re very rarely (made) around too many simplistic things. Most of the time there’s a whole range of factors that you put into it.”

Mikel Arteta believes Champions League quarter-final success against Bayern Munich will take Arsenal to the next level as he told his players to “write a different story” at the Allianz Arena.

The Gunners head into Wednesday’s second leg locked at 2-2 with Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern after a thrilling draw at the Emirates Stadium last week.

Defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday has since dented Arsenal’s Premier League title bid as attention now turns to Europe once again.

Arsenal had lost seven last-16 ties in succession before returning to the Champions League this season – three times to Bayern.

Arteta, though, feels reaching a semi-final against either holders Manchester City or record 14-time winners Real Madrid would elevate Arsenal.

Asked how transformative victory would be and whether it would take Arsenal to the next level, the Spaniard replied: “Absolutely.

“It would be unbelievable. If we make it happen tomorrow and we’re in the semi-final, we’ll be in a really high emotional state with something that we haven’t achieved in 15 years and that’s the opportunity.

“All the preparation has been to achieve that. We have earned it. We have earned it for 10 months and everything we did last season, to start our journey in the Champions League after so many years.

“Tomorrow we have an unbelievable opportunity to make it happen.”

Arteta has overseen a sea change in approach to big away games this season, ripping up the recent form books and guiding Arsenal to draws at title rivals City and Liverpool.

They have lost 5-1 on their last two visits to the Allianz – but Arteta wants another memorable away performance to redress more recent history.

“We have to change it and the opportunity comes there,” he added.

“There are lots of things we can do to write our story very differently tomorrow, we know that and it is going to be about putting in a very, very strong performance collectively and individually to earn the right to be in the semi-final.

“Most of our players haven’t experienced a night like this, this is going to be the first one, they are super-motivated, they are prepared, they feel confident and it is something that tomorrow we are going to have to show against an opponent that has this experience – but we want to make it happen.”

Harry Kane admits the season will be a failure if Bayern Munich do not win the Champions League.

Bayern host Arsenal on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, with the first match last week ending in a 2-2 draw.

Bayer Leverkusen romped to the Bundesliga title at the weekend, ending Bayern’s run of 11 straight league trophies and leaving them with only Europe’s highest honour to play for.

While Kane has excelled individually, his wait to win a team trophy after more than a decade without one at Tottenham could well continue.

The England captain told a press conference: “Of course every player, every club wants to win trophies, that’s the ultimate goal every season, but there’s a process into winning, there’s a process individually and in the team.

“You want to improve as a player every year, you want to show the world your capabilities and you want to push yourself to the very limits and you hope that helps with the team.

“Of course, from the club’s point of view it will be a failed season if we don’t win anything this year because we’re expected to win but all we can do is take that into next year and try and turn that around.

“The main thing for us is we still have an opportunity to turn this season into a great season if we win the Champions League. That motivation is still there and as players you can only hang onto that. If we can do something special tomorrow night then of course that keeps that hope alive.

“It’s a time to raise our game, it’s a time for me and the players who have been in big situations, pressure situations, to step up and be counted. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere. There’s a lot of expectation but I think there’s a good belief among the squad that we can achieve something tomorrow.”

Kane’s history with Spurs adds an extra edge to the occasion, with the striker also having been released by Arsenal as a child.

He played down the significance, saying: “I think it’s something that’s probably built up more from the outside, from the media, from the fans, rather than me myself.

“Of course I had a lot of history with Arsenal playing for Spurs for so many years in that north London derby, obviously it was the biggest game of the season every year probably, but it’s a different chapter, it’s a different moment for me playing for a different team and my focus is trying to beat a really good side.

“Of course I know there’ll be a lot of Spurs fans watching hoping that Bayern Munich go through but I can’t focus on that.

“Maybe it was in the back of my mind, being released from a young age, there was always a point to prove, and I feel like I’m the type of player who throughout my whole career has had points to prove. I don’t think that ever leaves you.

“Now I’m at Bayern Munich and they’re a top team in the Champions League and of course I have history with them but all I can do is try and help Bayern Munich qualify for the semi-finals.”

Manchester City took the initiative in the Premier League title race by hammering Luton on Saturday before rivals Liverpool and Arsenal both lost on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the state of play with six games remaining.

Momentum shift

While City took only a two-point lead in what remains a close race, the momentum swing felt significant as they jumped from third to first.

The manner of their 5-1 win also sounded a warning, while Arsenal were outplayed in the second half as they lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool missed a hatful of chances as Crystal Palace held on for a 1-0 upset.

Commitments in other competitions mean City do not play their next league game until April 25 at Brighton, by which point their rivals will both have played twice more knowing they need wins to put the pressure back on Pep Guardiola’s side.

Arsenal have the first chance to get back on track, away at Wolves late on Saturday evening, with Liverpool travelling to Fulham the following day.

Both are back in action three days on with eye-catching fixtures, Arsenal hosting Chelsea a week on Tuesday before the Wednesday brings a Merseyside derby at Everton’s Goodison Park, with City playing on the Thursday.

City’s trip to Tottenham has been put back to May 14, the Tuesday before the season ends on Sunday, May 19, meaning from this weekend on they will have a game in hand.

Course and distance winners

Another reason for City’s psychological edge is their title-winning pedigree under Guardiola.

They have finished first in five of the last six seasons, and second to Liverpool in the other, and have been noted for their strong finishes in that time.

Of the final 18 points available to them in each of the last six seasons, City have won 16, 18, 15, 12, 16 and 13 – an average of 15 which, if repeated this term, would require either Liverpool or Arsenal to win all six of their remaining games.

Arsenal, under Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta, put themselves in prime position last season but faltered by taking only 12 points from their final nine games, and nine in the last six including successive defeats to Brighton and Nottingham Forest, as they finished five points behind City.

Liverpool have previous achievements of their own to fall back on after winning the 2019-20 title, the only interruption to City’s run of dominance.

They had done their work earlier that season, though they still won four and drew one of their last six to ease home with an 18-point winning margin.

The previous season they won their last nine games in succession to push City all the way, finishing a point behind with their total of 97 the highest ever for a team who did not win the title.

They have taken 16, 16 and 14 points from their last six games in the three seasons since their title win but know they will need something similar, allied to an unfamiliar City slip-up, if they are to provide a glorious finale to Jurgen Klopp’s managerial reign.

Declan Rice believes a Champions League quarter-final clash with Bayern Munich is the “perfect” game for Arsenal to overcome defeat to Aston Villa.

The Gunners were deservedly beaten 2-0 by Unai Emery’s men at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon as Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins scored the goals to boost Villa’s top-four hopes.

Arsenal would have returned to the Premier League summit with a win but now sit second, two points behind reigning champions Manchester City.

There is no time for Mikel Arteta’s players to lick their wounds, however, as they travel to Germany for the second leg of their finely-poised Champions League quarter-final against Bayern.

A 2-2 draw in north London last week leaves the tie on a knife-edge and Rice feels such a big game is just what Arsenal need after a rare slip-up.

“It’s the perfect game for a reaction,” he said.

“We need a reaction on Wednesday night and it is a great chance to show our character and leadership. It’s time to go out there and hopefully get into the semi-finals of the Champions League.

“We have to park this to the side now. It’s gone, it’s a game of football. We’ve lost but we need to bounce back, that’s for sure.

“Going to the Allianz Arena, it’s going to be a special night. It’s time to pull our socks up and show everyone why we’re in this position.

“We’re gutted and disappointed we’ve lost a massive game but, it’s time for a reaction. We’ve been on such an amazing run since January, won so many football matches and got ourselves back into an unbelievable position after being written off at Christmas.”

This was former Arsenal boss Emery’s first trip back to the Emirates Stadium as Villa manager and the Spaniard severely dented the title charge of his old club.

Villa had already hit the woodwork through both Watkins and Youri Tielemans before substitute Bailey tapped home to break the deadlock late on.

With the hosts pushing for an equaliser, Watkins raced from his own half to latch onto a long ball and double the lead with a deft finish.

The win means fourth-placed Villa opened up a three-point gap on Tottenham in the battle for what looks like being the final Champions League place.

Like Arsenal, they now turn their attention to Europe as they prepare for the second leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final with Lille, having won the home leg 2-1.

“I definitely will take confidence from it and I think the team should take a lot of confidence from this game as well,” Bailey said of the victory at Arsenal.

“The way we played, coming to the Emirates – I think the way we set out was so strong and I think the team really didn’t give up too much and we created opportunities at the same time.

“I think from this, we should really take this game into consideration and give ourselves a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Mikel Arteta has told his Arsenal players to “stand up and be counted” after their Premier League title bid took a hit with defeat to Aston Villa.

Two late goals gave Unai Emery and his players a deserved 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium to boost their own top-four hopes.

In yet another twist in the title run-in, the Gunners were well beaten as Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins struck within three minutes of one another to stun the home fans.

Liverpool had lost at home to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday and a fifth league defeat of the campaign for Arsenal leaves Mikel Arteta’s side in second – two points behind reigning champions Manchester City.

Asked if he was concerned Arsenal’s season could fizzle out – much as it did last season – from this point, Arteta’s reply was bullish.

“If one result is going to do that then we are not strong enough,” said the Spaniard, whose side had been unbeaten in the league in 2024 .

“That’s very simple. We had one of the best performances that we’ve had all season in the first half against a really good team. It should have been three or four (goals) or more. It didn’t happen. In the second half the momentum shifted.

“We could not control and generate what we did in the first half. We conceded two very poor goals and we lost the game.

“Congratulate the opponent and stand up. Now the moment is to stand up and be counted. When you win and win and win for four months it’s very simple to do it. The moment to do it is now.”

Villa were brilliant in a second half they dominated and their superiority eventually paid off as substitute Bailey tapped home at the back post before Watkins took advantage of Arsenal’s high line to burst through on goal and finish with aplomb.

The visitors had also hit the woodwork through both Watkins and Youri Tielemans and Arsenal must now recover ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, with the tie evenly-poised at 2-2.

“If you want to win championships, if you want to be there in the Champions League, when you have these moments you have to stand up,” added Arteta.

“If not that means that you don’t have a quality that is very necessary. Now it’s a big test for us.

“In any other league in the world if you won the number of games in a row that we did, you would be six or eight points clear. That is not the case here. That is the challenge.”

This was former Arsenal boss Emery’s first trip to the Emirates Stadium with his Villa side – who moved three points clear of Tottenham to strengthen their hold on fourth place in the quest for Champions League football.

“Of course, beating Arsenal here is very difficult and we needed to play and be focused 100 per cent and be very demanding in everything,” he said.

“We needed the biggest commitment to do better than we did against Manchester City (a 4-1 loss) that was the sample we used for this match.

“This is the level I want to get to with our players and progressively, we are getting better.”

Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins scored in the final six minutes as Aston Villa stunned Arsenal with a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium to put a huge dent in Mikel Arteta’s Premier League title hopes.

With Liverpool having gone down 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace earlier in the day, Arsenal stood to move three points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s side but they were left reeling from their first league loss of 2024 by a superb away performance by Villa, who moved three clear of Tottenham in the race to finish fourth.

Arteta’s team were on top during the first half and should have taken the lead when Leandro Trossard met a low cross from close range but saw his effort brilliantly turned away by the foot of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Moments before, Watkins had struck the inside of a post for Villa who were a constant threat on the counter-attack before taking control in the second half.

Youri Tielemans hit the crossbar just after the break, before two late goals handed the initiative in the title race to champions Manchester City, who lead the way by two points.

At Anfield, Eberechi Eze’s goal after 14 minutes, tapped in from Tyrick Mitchell’s cutback, proved the difference as Liverpool fell to a first home league defeat of the season.

Klopp’s side were guilty of profligate finishing with Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones all responsible for glaring misses, while goalkeeper Dean Henderson put in a fine display with a number of key saves.

Wataru Endo hit the crossbar in the first half when Palace failed to clear a corner, but they hung on for just a second victory under Oliver Glasner to leave Liverpool two points off the top.

Elsewhere, Fulham ran out 2-0 winners against West Ham at the London Stadium, Andreas Pereira scoring a goal in either half to damage the home side’s European ambitions.

Unai Emery’s Aston Villa severely dented Arsenal’s Premier League title bid as two late goals gave them a deserved 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

In yet another twist in the run-in, the Gunners were well beaten as Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins struck within three minutes of one another to stun the home fans.

Liverpool had lost at Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday and a fifth league defeat of the campaign for Arsenal leaves Mikel Arteta’s side in second – two points behind reigning champions Manchester City.

Villa were brilliant in a second half they dominated and their superiority eventually paid off as substitute Bailey tapped home at the back post before Watkins took advantage of Arsenal’s high line to burst through on goal and finish with aplomb.

This was former Arsenal boss Emery’s first trip back here with Villa and it was one he would have enjoyed as the Spaniard danced up the touchline when Bailey broke the deadlock.

Sandwiched between both legs of a Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich, this Villa match was always going to prove a test for Arsenal and it was one they failed.

Kai Havertz forced Emiliano Martinez into a low save early on before both Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka saw efforts hit the side-netting.

Gabriel Magalhaes has been a rock at the back for Arsenal this season but he gifted possession to Watkins, who almost took full advantage only to see his shot come back off the inside of the post.

Arsenal went straight down the other end and almost took the lead themselves only for ex-Gunner Martinez to make a stunning reflex save to keep out a close-range Leandro Trossard attempt.

Saka then curled a shot inches wide as Arsenal could not find a way through to relieve some of the pressure building around the Emirates.

The sides went in level at the break but Villa were the much better outfit after the interval, restricting the hosts to just four shots in the second half.

With his side in the ascendancy, Emery turned to his bench and introduced Bailey in place of Moussa Diaby, although it was Youri Tielemans who came close moments later.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was caught in possession on the edge of his own box, with Tielemans robbing the ball and hitting both crossbar and post with a fierce drive.

Arteta replaced Ben White, Martin Odegaard and Jesus as he looked to freshen things up but in the closing stages it was Champions League-chasing Villa who would push on to get the three points their performance thoroughly deserved.

Bailey was in the right place at the right time as Lucas Digne’s low cross evaded everyone and landed at the back post where Bailey swept home into an empty goal.

Arsenal reacted by moving even higher up the pitch but it was to prove their undoing as a long ball over the top was raced onto by Watkins, who broke from his own half to collect, hold off Emile Smith Rowe and clip a wonderful finish over David Raya.

While the result could have a massive baring on the destination of the Premier League title, it also improves fourth-placed Villa’s hopes of Champions League qualification as they now move three points clear of Tottenham.

Bayern Munich forward Kingsley Coman is set for a spell on the sidelines with an adductor muscle injury, which will rule him out of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Arsenal.

Coman suffered the setback during Bayern’s 2-0 win over Koln, having been forced off five minutes into the second half.

The 27-year-old France forward is now set to face an unspecified period of recovery.

A statement from the Bundesliga club on Saturday evening read: “Kingsley Coman will be out of action for FC Bayern for several weeks after the forward suffered an injury in his right adductor muscle in the Bundesliga home game against Koln on Saturday.

“This was confirmed following an examination by FC Bayern’s medical department.

“Coman injured himself after a movement in the Koln penalty area with no intervention from an opponent and had to be substituted in the 50th minute.”

Bayern drew 2-2 with Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in London on Tuesday night, with the return match set for the Allianz Arena on April 17.

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