LONDON: Premier League leaders Manchester City and nearest challengers Arsenal were both held to draws on Sunday (Monday in Manila) as Liverpool suffered their first defeat in seven games under new manager Jurgen Klopp.
City could only manage a goalless draw away to bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa, the Birmingham club marking new French manager Remi Garde’s first match in charge with a point that owed much to a fine display by goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Arsenal, who kicked off later on Sunday, knew that if they beat arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby they would leapfrog City.
But instead they had to make do with a 1-1 draw and are second in the table on goal difference.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini lost the services of Wilfried Bony to a hamstring injury and then watched in frustration as his team failed to make their second-half domination count in a match where Villa ended a dismal run of seven successive defeats.
City had to operate without a recognized frontman for more than an hour, although Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Fernando all wasted gilt-edged chances to secure victory in the closing stages at Villa Park.
A delighted Garde, appointed after Villa sacked former manager Tim Sherwood, told the BBC. “It was a nice experience and a fantastic atmosphere.
“It was a tough game. Making sure we were well organized defensively was my priority,” the former Arsenal and France midfielder added.