Manchester City will begin their Premier League title defence with a testing trip to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend.

Pep Guardiola's side have already won a historic four straight titles and will begin their pursuit of a fifth consecutive crown with a tough away match on Sunday August 18 against a team now managed by Enzo Maresca.

Man City have won their opening Premier League match in 12 of the last 13 seasons, though the exception was an away game in London when they lost 1-0 to Tottenham in 2021-22.

This will be the first time in 53 years that Chelsea have begun a top-flight campaign with a match against the reigning champions. They last did that in 1971, losing to Arsenal at Highbury.

The Premier League fixtures for 2024-25 were unveiled on Tuesday.

Arsenal narrowly missed out to Man City in each of the last two seasons and Mikel Arteta's men discovered they will start at home to Wolves on Saturday August 17.

It is Manchester United and Fulham who will open the season on Friday August 16, with the FA Cup holders playing at home in an evening fixture.

Arne Slot's tenure as Liverpool manager starts with a trip away to play promoted Ipswich Town, who return to the top flight after a 22-year absence, while play-off winners Southampton will face Newcastle United at St James' Park.

The opening weekend concludes on Monday August 19 as Leicester City host Tottenham in a difficult start to the Foxes' Premier League return.

There are some other notable matches taking place in the early weeks of the season, with Arsenal away to Aston Villa in the two teams' second match of the campaign.

The Gunners also have back-to-back away matches against Tottenham and Man City in September, meaning they will have had road games against three of the top five sides from last season inside the first five matchweeks.

Man Utd, meanwhile, are due to face Liverpool at Old Trafford on August 31 in the standout fixture of Matchday 3.

Pep Guardiola has been named Premier League Manager of the Season for the fifth time after leading Manchester City to a fourth straight title.

City edged out Arsenal by two points on the final day of the season to win their eighth Premier League title, their sixth under Guardiola and their fourth in a row.

They are the first team in English football history to win more than three consecutive titles, while Guardiola is just the fourth manager to win six English top-flight crowns. 

Alex Ferguson leads the way with 13, while Guardiola has matched former Aston Villa manager George Ramsay and Liverpool legend Bob Paisley.

With 11, Ferguson is also the only person to win the Premier League Manager of the Season award more often than Guardiola, with his fifth dragging him further clear of Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger (three each).

Guardiola also claimed the prize after overseeing title-winning campaigns in 2017-18, 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2022-23.

Having seen off competition from four other nominees, Guardiola said they deserved to share the honour with him.

"I want to share it, especially with Mikel [Arteta] for the incredible job he has done until the last game, bringing us to our limits," said Guardiola.

"Of course, for Jurgen [Klopp], for the unforgettable battles for many, many years. And Unai Emery, making something unbelievable again to bring Aston Villa to the Champions League.

"And Andoni Iraola, with Bournemouth, being his first season in the Premier League, doing what he has done and coming back from a tough start to the season.

"It is an honour to be alongside all of them and to win this trophy. We will defend this award as best as possible in the future."

Pep Guardiola knows the fate of the Premier League title race is in Manchester City's hands, as he urged his players to leave nothing to chance.

City head into the final day of the season in pole position, two points ahead of Arsenal and on the brink of an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title.

Guardiola's team will be champions again if they beat West Ham at home. They could still win the league with a draw, but only if Arsenal fail to beat Everton.

And Guardiola's message to his team was a clear one.

"At that moment, the destiny is in our hands," he said. "But if you are waiting for [Arsenal] to drop points again, you are wrong.

"If you were thinking Arsenal were going to lose at Old Trafford [against Manchester United] forget about it. If you are thinking Everton are going do something on Sunday, forget about it.

"This is not going to happen. We did what we had to do against Crystal Palace, against Wolves, Fulham, Spurs and now we have the last one. So they know it's win, otherwise Arsenal will be champions."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is wanting a favour from his old boss David Moyes, who insisted West Ham's focus was purely on themselves, and not on spoiling anyone's parade.

"Football is a strange game. You never know what moments are going to give you the opportunity to win and we have to try to take those opportunities when we can," Moyes said.

"We're not playing to make Manchester City lose the Premier League and we're not playing to make Arsenal win the Premier League.

"We're playing for West Ham and we're trying to win the game for West Ham. We can't finish lower than ninth, which is a really good league position for West Ham in lots of ways."

This will be Moyes' final game in charge of the Hammers, and Guardiola hopes to see the Scot back in management soon.

"He will be back, that is my feeling. He cannot be at home," Guardiola said.

"My first game [at City] was against Sunderland and David Moyes was there. Now, an important game, he will be there again.

"It's always an honour to see him. He is a lovely person and his experience speaks for itself. But he will do what he can to beat us."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Manchester City - Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne has six assists in Premier League final games – it is the most of any current player, with only Nolberto Solano providing more in the competition's history (seven). De Bruyne’s assist for Haaland against Spurs on Tuesday took him to 112 in the Premier League, with only Ryan Giggs having more in the history of the competition (162).

West Ham - Jarrod Bowen

With 16 league goals this season, it has been another excellent campaign for Bowen, who will be hoping to finish on a high and force himself into England's Euro 2024 squad.

MATCH PREDICTION: MAN CITY WIN

This will be Moyes' 198th and final Premier League game in charge of West Ham – no permanent manager has a higher win rate for the Hammers in the competition than the Scotsman.

However, Opta's model does not fancy the Hammers' chances. West Ham have lost 5-2 at Crystal Palace and 5-0 at Chelsea in their last two Premier League away games; the last team to concede 5+ goals in three consecutive top-flight away games were Blackburn Rovers (April-August 1965), while West Ham last did so in April 1932.

City are the only side yet to lose a home Premier League match this season (W13 D5). City are looking to remain unbeaten at home in a top-flight season for a fourth time, along with 1904-05, 1920-21 and 2011-12, while manager Pep Guardiola has only gone a full top-flight season unbeaten once before, with Barcelona in 2009-10.

West Ham have conceded at least once in all 17 of their Premier League games at the Etihad Stadium – only Tottenham have played at a specific venue more in the competition without ever keeping a clean sheet (18 at Emirates Stadium).

City are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League games against West Ham (W13 D3), since a 2-1 home loss in September 2015.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Man City - 75%

West Ham - 8.3%

Draw - 16.7%

Andoni Iraola sees his nomination for the Premier League's Manager of the Season award as something for everyone at Bournemouth to be proud of, vindicating their progress in 2023-24.

Bournemouth welcome Brentford to the Vitality Stadium for their penultimate game of the campaign on Saturday, with a top-half finish still on the cards.

The Cherries have already surpassed their previous record points haul in the top flight, accumulating 48 despite failing to win any of their first nine matches under Iraola – a run which led to suggestions he could lose his job.

However, they have been rewarded for sticking with the Spaniard, who is up against Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery in the Manager of the Season voting.

"I think it's something for the club. People think that we have done a very good season and it's good to see yourself get this kind of recognition," Iraola said on Friday.

"I think we still have a lot of room to grow and we have to continue improving because, in the end, the Premier League is very demanding.

"I think the other nominees are on another level, I would say. They are the top four teams in the league.

"It's good that a club like us receives this kind of recognition but in the same way it could have gone to Sean Dyche or Gary O'Neil, they are also doing very good jobs."

Brentford boss Thomas Frank has heaped praise on his opposite number, saying: "He's done well this season. Praise to him and everyone around Bournemouth. 

"He had a tricky start and it's just another example that there are a lot of good coaches out there and that football is brutal and unpredictable.

"But the best leaders are there with a calm head and a steady hand – they keep going. They've done well in many ways, definitely."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Bournemouth – Dominic Solanke

Solanke has opened the scoring in nine different Premier League games so far this season, more than any other player. 

His goals have also been worth a league-high 15 points for the Cherries this term – can he fire them one step closer to a top-half finish?

Brentford – Ivan Toney 

Toney has failed to score in any of his last 10 Premier League games for Brentford. 

Only in his first 11 Football League appearances for Northampton Town in 2013-14 has he failed to find the net in more consecutive league games for a single team. With time running out to impress England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2024, he needs to end his drought.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Brentford's last two Premier League games have seen them lose 1-0 to Everton and draw 0-0 with Fulham. They have not failed to score in three or more consecutive league games since a run of four in March and April 2019.

The Bees have, however, kept a clean sheet in their last two away league games against Bournemouth, last doing so on three consecutive visits between 1991 and 1994 in the third tier.

The Cherries are winless in their last six league games against Brentford since a 1-0 Championship victory back in August 2014, drawing two and losing four.

With little of substance on the line, it would be no surprise to see this one fizzle out into a draw. 

Bournemouth have only won their final home league game in one of the last four seasons, beating Millwall in the Championship in 2021-22 but losing their other three in that span.

Brentford, meanwhile, have seen four of their last seven Premier League matches finish level, their only defeat in that run coming at Goodison Park two weeks ago.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Bournemouth – 32.6%

Brentford – 39.1%

Draw – 28.3%

Arsenal will be better for the experience of pushing Manchester City close even if they fail to capture the Premier League title this season, says former Gunners midfielder Ray Parlour.

Having dropped away during the run-in as City captured their third straight title in 2022-23, Mikel Arteta's side have kicked on this campaign and currently hold a one-point lead at the summit.

However, City have three games to play to Arsenal's two, leaving the Gunners praying for a slip-up from the champions, who face Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham in their remaining fixtures.

While Parlour finds it difficult to see City dropping points at this stage, he believes this season has been another positive step for Arteta's team, whatever the outcome.

Parlour, an ambassador for NetBet, told Stats Perform: "I think it's been so positive this season. 

"Even if they do come second, I think they've got better from last year and that's all you can keep doing, keep improving. 

"We all know Man City are an absolute machine. Arsenal just have to keep trying to improve. It's a young team, they'll learn every year by going close, by playing big games. It can only be good for them. 

"I'm sure they'll be looking in the market in the summer, trying to get the right people in. I think it's been positive.

"The problem is you set the bar high and it's not going to get lower, it's got to go a little bit higher again. That's the hard bit, to keep maintaining the consistency, what you've done so far."

City are unbeaten in their last 20 Premier League games (16 wins, four draws). They have won each of their last six while netting four or more goals in five of them – against Aston Villa (4-1), Crystal Palace (4-2), Luton Town (5-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (4-0) and Wolves (5-1).

Parlour admits the champions' form is ominous and believes Arsenal will look back on last month's 2-0 defeat to Villa with plenty of regrets, saying: "All they can do is keep winning games. 

"I look at Man City's run-in, I just can't see them dropping a point, that's my problem. Football's a funny game, so it can happen. I've seen Crystal Palace go to the Etihad and beat them, but it doesn't happen too often, especially towards the end of the season.

"Arsenal have really pushed them all the way. They'll be kicking themselves a little bit with the Aston Villa game, but sometimes games don't go your way."

Ray Parlour was speaking on behalf of NetBet Sports Betting.

Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland is "back to business" after his four-goal demolition of Wolves that kept Manchester City in touch of Premier League leaders Arsenal.

The Gunner dispatched Bournemouth 3-0 earlier on Saturday but Haaland's first-half hat-trick – including two penalties – started a roaring response from City at Etihad Stadium.

Haaland added his fourth after the interval before Julian Alvarez wrapped up the scoring, with Hwang Hee-Chan's second-half strike a mere consolation in a 5-1 hammering of Wolves.

Victory extended Man City's unbeaten run in the Premier League to 20 games (W16 D4), while they have won each of the last six in a row, netting 4+ goals on five occasions in that run.

Moving just a point with Arsenal and still boasting a game in hand, Guardiola was relieved to see a firing return to form for Haaland, whose April was hampered by injury issues.

"It looks comfortable but it was not," the City manager told Sky Sports. "In the end we created more chances but in the transition we were not precise in the last pass.

"But Erling is back to business. Penalties are a guarantee but the second and fourth [goals] were unbelievable.

"The 20 minutes he [Haaland] played against Nottingham Forest was really good and today as well. We won, but it was so long an injury.

"It is welcome he arrived in the right moment, but we arrive together because Erling and Kevin [De Bruyne] have been out."

Having scored a hat-trick in this exact fixture last season, Haaland became just the third player to score a home treble against the same opponent in consecutive Premier League campaigns.

The Norway talisman also became the third player to score multiple first-half hat-tricks in Premier League history (also against Forest last season), along with Andrew Cole and Michael Owen (two each).

Yet the City forward appeared somewhat annoyed with his late substitution for Alvarez.

"He's a little bit frustrated, but I understand," Guardiola added. "He was frustrated with the referee. With the long balls sometimes they push him and he is pulled. Yes, it is like that."

City will play their game in hand against Tottenham on May 14, with that their chance to move clear of Mikel Arteta's side.

Guardiola insists his team must win all their remaining fixtures to lift the top-flight trophy once more.

"Goal difference is not possible, we cannot draw," he added. "The way Arsenal have been playing has been so good and consistent.

"It's three games, hopefully we win the first and the second and arrive to the third with our destiny in our own hands."

Mikel Arteta has fond memories of the last time Arsenal faced Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium and believes the never-say-die spirit they showed in that match could prove key in this season's title race.

Arsenal came from 2-0 down to beat Bournemouth 3-2 last March, with Reiss Nelson hitting a 97th-minute winner as the Gunners' supporters began to believe in their title dream.

Arteta's men ultimately came up short in the run-in in 2022-23, but they hold a slender one-point lead over City as they bid to go one better in 2023-24, though City have a game in hand.

Reflecting on the Cherries' last visit to the Emirates, Arteta said the resilience shown on that day has become a key characteristic of his side. 

"I have a great memory because the game ended in a really beautiful way and it was one of the highlights of the season, so we know we're going to have to earn it tomorrow," he said.

"It's going to be a really tough match but the team is ready."

Asked about the importance of finding different ways to win, he added: "It's important at any stage, but now obviously with what is there to win, we know that we're going to have to win games in different ways and that could be one way. 

"Hopefully tomorrow it's not like that but if it has to be, then that's welcome."

Andoni Iraola's Bournemouth are eyeing a top-half finish after winning five of their last eight games, and they surpassed their previous record points tally for a Premier League season by reaching 48 with last week's 3-0 thrashing of Brighton and Hove Albion.

Iraola, however, wants more, saying: "It's good news. It's something we were trying to get to in the past few weeks but now we still want more points.

"We have three very difficult games starting with tomorrow, but we are going to keep trying to be competitive in every game."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arsenal – Kai Havertz

Havertz's first Premier League goal for Arsenal came in their 4-0 win at Bournemouth in the reverse fixture. The German has been involved in 13 goals in his last 11 league games for the Gunners, scoring eight and assisting five.

Bournemouth – Justin Kluivert

Bournemouth's Kluivert has registered as many goal involvements in his last six Premier League games (four – three goals, one assist) as he had in his first 23 in the competition (four goals).

MATCH PREDICTION: ARSENAL WIN

Arsenal have won all six of their home Premier League matches against Bournemouth. The Gunners have only played more home games against Stoke while maintaining a 100 per cent record (10/10).

Arsenal have also won 13 of their 15 Premier League games so far in 2024, dropping points only against City (0-0) and Aston Villa (0-2). However, the Gunners have conceded four goals in their last four league games, as many as in their previous 11 combined.

However, Bournemouth have only picked up five points in 13 Premier League matches against Arsenal (one win, two draws, 10 losses) and have never kept a clean sheet against the Gunners. The Cherries have only played more games against City (14) without recording a shutout.

Bournemouth have won 1-0 at Wolves and 3-0 against Brighton in their last two Premier League games – never before have they won three consecutive top-flight games without conceding.

Arsenal have scored a league-high 85 goals in their 35 Premier League games this season, with their average of 2.4 goals-per-game their highest across a single campaign since 1934-35, when they scored 115 goals in 42 matches (2.7 per game).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Arsenal – 70.2%

Draw – 19.3%

Bournemouth – 10.5%

Conor Gallagher insists Chelsea's players are putting in the required effort amid fierce fan criticism in the aftermath of Tuesday's 5-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Chelsea's miserable first season under Mauricio Pochettino took another turn for the worse at the Emirates Stadium as they were put to the sword by Mikel Arteta's title contenders.

The Gunners racked up 27 shots at goal as they recorded their biggest ever victory over Chelsea, who looked devoid of inspiration with leading goalscorer Cole Palmer sidelined due to illness.

During the game, one disgruntled travelling fan held up a banner which read: "I don't want your shirt, I just want you to fight for ours".

The charge that Chelsea are not fighting for results was put to Gallagher by TNT Sports after the game, and the Blues' stand-in captain denied that was the case.  

"We definitely are putting the effort in," Gallagher said. "I know how much it means to all the boys. It's a very young squad with not much experience as a team in the Premier League.

"This season we've had a lot of ups and downs. We're still improving and working as a team to get to that next level.

"Today was one of those days where we were nowhere near it and we need to dust ourselves off, look at the performance, where we can improve and all the mistakes we made."

The defeat means Chelsea remain ninth in the Premier League table, three points adrift of sixth-placed Newcastle United and Manchester United in seventh, with both of those teams in action on Wednesday.

Pochettino's men face another daunting task on Saturday when they travel to Champions League-chasing Aston Villa, before hosting Tottenham in another London derby next Thursday.

Mikel Arteta hailed an “unbelievable” performance from Kai Havertz after his two goals helped Arsenal move three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a thumping 5-0 win over Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

The 24-year-old, who struggled in his early appearances after swapping Stamford Bridge for north London in the summer, gave a superb display against his former side as the leaders heaped more misery on visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino, who saw his ninth-place team slump to a worst-ever league defeat against Arsenal.

Havertz struck twice as part of an 18-minute blitz in the second half as Arteta’s team won for the second time in four days, continuing their recovery from successive losses to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

“He (Havertz) was unbelievable, in all departments,” said Arteta.

“For a nine to score two goals the way he scored, his contribution was great. It’s a question for him but I’m sure he’s very pleased.”

The Arsenal onslaught began after only four minutes, Declan Rice sliding the ball into a channel on the left of the penalty area from where Leandro Trossard took over, dinking past defender Alfie Gilchrist, on his first Premier League start, and thudding it through the legs of Djordje Petrovic.

Thereafter Chelsea competed gamely, going close to equalising when Axel Disasi just failed to reach a flick-on from a corner and again when Nicolas Jackson’s effort was deflected onto the post by Gabriel, but in the space of under 20 minutes after the interval they fell to pieces.

First, Ben White reacted quickest to sweep home after Rice’s shot was blocked, then Havertz got his first of the night with a lofted finish over the goalkeeper.

The former Chelsea forward made it 4-0, his shot pinging in off the post with Petrovic rooted, before White provided the moment of the match with a cross-shot that sailed across the face of goal and in from Martin Odegaard’s pass.

“It was a big performance, collectively and individually,” said Arteta, whose side moved clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s derby against Tottenham but have played a game more than Liverpool and two more than Manchester City.

“I thought we were really good, against a really good team that was in great form and were going to ask us a lot of questions. I think we responded really well.

“From the start we were really determined, really flowing, playing with a lot of courage and making things happen. Really happy with the result. It’s a big day for our supporters.

“It’s great for us, for the confidence and for the belief that we can do it, we can come to these stages against big teams and win games the way we’ve done it tonight. So enjoy it, then it’s back to work tomorrow because we have a big one on Sunday.”

Chelsea boss Pochettino, for whom Arteta admitted to have “all the sympathy in the world,” gave a downcast assessment of his team’s prospects of qualifying for Europe after a humbling loss.

“Now it is difficult to see the future because after this game we feel disappointed,” he said. “It is difficult to talk about objectives.

“If we compete like Saturday (in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to City), OK. But if we compete like today, I think we deserve to go into Europe? I think in this way, no.”

Kai Havertz scored twice against his former club as Arsenal tightened their grip on top spot in the Premier League by denting Chelsea’s European aspirations with a thumping 5-0 win.

Gunners forward Havertz, who made a £65million switch from Stamford Bridge last summer, registered two of four second-half goals on a remarkable evening at a jubilant Emirates Stadium.

Defender Ben White also claimed a brace for Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing side, adding to Leandro Trossard’s early opener, as the Blues’ recent resurgence floundered in embarrassing fashion in the absence of key man Cole Palmer.

Victory moved Arsenal three points ahead of second-placed Liverpool having now played one game more, while reigning champions Manchester City sit four points behind with two matches in hand.

Outclassed Chelsea squandered a series of chances, with Nicolas Jackson particularly culpable, as they suffered a first defeat in nine top-flight games and missed the chance to climb to seventh.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men made the short trip across the capital on the back of a painful FA Cup semi-final defeat to Pep Guardiola’s City and without 20-goal top scorer Palmer due to illness.

Blues academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist was handed a first Premier League start as part of four changes, while Arsenal recalled Takehiro Tomiyasu and Thomas Partey.

The Gunners, who suffered a damaging 2-0 loss to Aston Villa in their last home game before exiting the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, began brightly and led inside four minutes.

Declan Rice was afforded time and space to advance deep into opposition territory before slipping in Trossard to escape Gilchrist and fire a low left-footed shot from a tight angle which was allowed to squirm home by Blues goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.

Chelsea’s evening could quickly have gone downhill but Jackson avoided a potential eighth-minute red card after catching Tomiyasu’s ankle with his studs.

Arsenal, whose players wore black armbands following the death last week of former club chairman Sir Chips Keswick at the age of 84, continued to be the dominant force.

Ex-Chelsea academy player Rice fired narrowly over from the edge of the box following a delightful pirouette, before the visitors almost snatched a fortuitous leveller.

After Jackson outpaced William Saliba down the left wing, his attempted cut back deflected off Gabriel and struck the outside of the near post.

Petrovic then atoned for his costly early error by denying Havertz and, moments later, pulling off a fine reaction save to repel Trossard’s effort which took a hefty touch off Axel Disasi.

A pulsating, end-to-end encounter showed little sign of relenting.

Gunners defender White produced a crucial block to deny Marc Cucurella after good work from Noni Madueke, before Enzo Fernandez side-footed the rebound just wide.

Jackson inexplicably handled a golden headed chance from Conor Gallagher’s cross as a breathless opening period finished with a flurry of yellow cards, including one for Arteta.

The Arsenal boss would have been keen for his side to kill off the contest as quickly as possible – and duly got his wish.

Petrovic saved well from Rice and Havertz before the hosts secured breathing space seven minutes after the restart.

Following a short corner between Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard, Rice was again denied – this time by the leg of Gallagher – only for the unmarked White to sweep in the loose ball.

The result was put beyond doubt just five minutes later, with the identity of the goalscorer particularly painful for the travelling fans.

Havertz, who scored Chelsea’s winner in the 2021 Champions League final, was superbly released by Odegaard and held off Cucurella to lift the ball over Petrovic, sparking wild scenes in the stands followed by taunts aimed at the away end.

Jackson’s wasteful evening continued as he hit the side-netting with only David Raya to beat before Arsenal piled on the misery for former Tottenham boss Pochettino.

Havertz doubled his tally in the 65th minute by firing home via the right post after receiving the ball from Saka.

White replicated the Germany international’s achievement only five minutes later when his attempted volley across goal from Odegaard’s dinked pass inadvertently flew into the top left corner to cap a humiliating outing for Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta said Mauricio Pochettino was “like a father” to him in his early playing days ahead of their meeting in Arsenal’s clash against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Arteta played alongside the Chelsea boss at Paris St Germain before their rise as coaches in Europe’s top divisions.

The Arsenal manager talked up the influence Pochettino had on him as a player, admitting he was inspired by the Argentinian as a teenager.

The pair will face off at the Emirates on Tuesday.

When asked how influential Pochettino was for Arteta as a player, he said: “He’s one of the most.

“I was 17 or 18 in Paris with no experience in professional football. He doesn’t like me saying it but to me he was like a father, he took me under his arm, he gave me incredible advice and protected me, he inspired me and I learned so much in our two years together.”

Arteta’s top-of-the-table Gunners have come a long way since he took over in 2019.

They sit one point ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand, and lead Liverpool on goal difference as they continue their bid for Premier League glory with five games remaining.

Arteta sought the opinion of Pochettino before leaving Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s assistant to become manager of the north London side.

“When I had to make a decision I asked him and explained the situation and he gave me some advice and he was needed,” Arteta added.

“I admire what he’s done in his career and he’s someone I’ve looked to because he was impactful to me in the most important stage of my career. As a role model I can’t pick anyone better.

“He doesn’t need to help me about tactics. The best influence he has had on me is the way he speaks about his life, his professionalism, his family and who he was as a figure in the dressing room and the passion and love he has for the game.

“That for me is the most important things which I learnt from him.”

A league title will be Arsenal’s first since 2003-04.

Arteta, whose side were dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich last week, noted that there are further steps he wants his team to make in their development.

He said: “We need to see how we can make another step or two forward because that’s what this team is demanding to keep moving forward in a ruthless way because we’re not satisfied.

“You can see the team really wants it. We will try to be as fresh as possible but I think we can cope with that.”

Mauricio Pochettino believes it is unfair to compare the impact of Enzo Fernandez at Chelsea to that of Arsenal’s Declan Rice, as the teams prepare to face each other at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

England international Rice joined Mikel Arteta’s side from West Ham last summer for £100million, less than the £107m it cost to take World Cup winner Fernandez from Benfica to Stamford Bridge in January 2023.

The fee for the Argentinian was a British record at the time, though the club have since surpassed it in signing fellow midfielder Moises Caicedo from Brighton for £115m.

Rice has won plaudits for his transformational effect on Arsenal’s midfield, helping to forge a sturdier, more cohesive side than the one that fell away in the final weeks of last season’s Premier League title race.

By contrast, Chelsea’s league position has not markedly improved in the 15 months since Fernandez arrived in west London, and despite clear flashes of his obvious talent and range of passing, question marks have remained over whether the club got value for money.

However, his countryman Pochettino called for perspective on the obstacles that his player has had to contend with since arriving in England.

“Declan Rice was playing for West Ham, an English guy who knows the Premier League, knows the language,” said the 52-year-old.

“For Enzo, after the World Cup to arrive here, in a team that was inconsistent, difficult to get positive results, always it was really difficult.

“In summer he was involved in too many games and he arrived late in pre-season, hasn’t had a holiday in the last two years.

“Too many negative things happened. (It was) difficult for him to adapt, his family. It’s not easy to adapt and perform so quick.”

Fernandez was responsible for creating Chelsea’s best chance of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, hitting an incisive, raking pass from deep that sent Nicolas Jackson through on goal, but the striker could not finish.

He has scored three Premier League goals and made four assists since moving from Portugal in the immediate aftermath of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup triumph, but Pochettino insisted the best is yet to come from the 23-year-old.

“For sure he is going to be much better next season, after the experience of the whole season in this squad and this team,” he said.

“He’s more experienced, he gets better feelings. The whole season is good for him to learn. Even if he is a world champion, he needs to adapt to the Premier League and to this club. For me, there is no doubt that he is going to be much better.”

Pochettino said there have been no discussions over the future of striker Romelu Lukaku, currently on a season-long loan at Roma, but appeared to hint that the door could be open for a return.

The 30-year-old has scored 18 goals for the Serie A side this campaign after telling Chelsea last summer that he wanted to leave.

“He’s a Chelsea player, so for sure we will pay attention,” said Pochettino. “It’s an option. But still we did not take any decision.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta stood in unison with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola in condemning the fixture schedule.

Guardiola said it was “unacceptable” that his side had to play an FA Cup semi-final less than 72 hours after being in action in the Champions League on Wednesday night as they beat Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday tea-time.

The Gunners’ plight was arguably worse as they were also in Europe on Wednesday night but had to travel back from Germany on Thursday following their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

They made light of that quick turnaround as they beat Wolves 2-0 on Saturday to go back to the top of the Premier League before they play again on Tuesday night against Chelsea.

“It’s not about us, Pep or myself, it’s about the well-being of the players,” Arteta said after Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard goals sent his side one point above City.

“Especially when you are competing in European competition, everything has to be competed in the same way.

“You cannot have a team that hasn’t played for seven days or three days before and has more recovery time and you have to play in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

“It is not right. If you look at it any angle it’s not right. If you want to protect and you always talk about the players and the protagonists, let’s protect them and think about them and do everything we can to give them the maximum time so they can recover and they can maintain the show they put on every week.

“We stayed in Munich, I think we had two hours sleep, wake up and we started to talk about Wolves first of all and then understand what we had to do to win the game.

“The boys were unbelievable. You look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played and the attitude and the way they have run today is top.”

It was a good recovery from the Gunners after a horror week where their title hopes were damaged by a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa last week before their Champions League exit in Munich.

But they could be four points clear of City by the time Guardiola’s side next play as they try to wrestle control of a thrilling title race.

Arteta added: “It was really good, I really liked the performance, the result, the clean sheet but also the way individually and a team they showed they still have a step forward to make.

“We realised we want to be involved in big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League, the level it requires, we have to do something special. You have to have that love to compete.”

Wolves battled hard but are crippled by injuries, with the majority of their key attacking players sidelined.

They are now six games without a win, but boss Gary O’Neil was proud.

“I thought it was an incredible performance, it exceeded my expectation of what we were able to produce today,” he said.

“We didn’t deserve to lose 2-0, losing 1-0 and not quite being able to break them down is probably as bad as it should have been for us.

“We came up just short against one of the best teams in world football so there’s no disgrace in that.”

Arsenal recovered from a horror week by returning to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Wolves.

The Gunners’ endured potentially season-defining back-to-back defeats as they lost to Aston Villa in the league last Sunday before being knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

But they returned to the summit of the Premier League thanks to goals from Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard at Molineux, moving a point above Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

Pep Guardiola’s side were in FA Cup semi-final action on Saturday and, with the Gunners facing Chelsea on Tuesday, they could be four points clear of City by the time the reigning champions next play against Brighton on Thursday.

That would be a big swing in momentum after what was diagnosed as a seemingly terminal defeat against Villa last week, with Liverpool, who also play twice before City are in action again, currently three points behind.

Mikel Arteta’s men were good value for their Saturday night win, even if Trossard’s opener had an air of good fortune about it and then having to wait until injury time to kill the game.

Wolves are crippled by injuries, including most of their key attacking players, but competed well and a shock result might have been possible had Joao Gomes’ first-half shot gone in instead of hitting the post.

Gary O’Neil’s men are now six games without a win in all competitions, but with home fixtures coming up against Bournemouth and Luton they will still be eyeing a top-half finish.

Arsenal did not have long to stew on that midweek defeat in Germany and were soon on top at Molineux.

Trossard was involved from the off, causing trouble down the left and his cross was tamely headed straight to Jose Sa by Bukayo Saka before the Belgian teed up Declan Rice who whistled a low shot just off target.

Trossard was then on the end of the supply line when he was found by Ben White, but he missed his kick in the middle of the penalty area.

For all Arsenal’s domination, it was Wolves who came closest to opening the scoring on the half-hour.

Gomes got the better of Jakub Kiwior down the right, advanced into the area and thundered in a shot which David Raya did well to divert onto the post.

Arsenal survived that scare and took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Matt Doherty was weak in the challenge with Gabriel Jesus and the Brazilian set it back for Trossard, whose sliced effort went in off the post for his side’s first goal in two and a half games.

Arsenal were able to manage the contest effectively in the second half.

Wolves were so short of attacking options that midfielder Mario Lemina came on as a striker and the hosts upped the ante in the final 15 minutes.

But unsurprisingly, they were unable to create anything clear-cut as they probed for a leveller.

And Arsenal, who have not conceded in a Premier League away game since January, killed the game deep into injury time when Odegaard converted from an acute angle at the second attempt to take the three points and top spot.

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.

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