• Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday could prove to be a big moment, with leaders Liverpool, who could have moved eight points above the Gunners, suffering a first domestic defeat since September.
• On December 26, City — who had just been to the Club World Cup — were in fifth place, eight points behind leaders Liverpool.
Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Brentford has set up the tightest title race in eight years.
The top three – Liverpool, City and Arsenal — are separated by only two points after 23 games (22 games for City).
That is the first time it has been so close at this stage since 2015-16, the season Leicester City won the title.
But there is more to it than that, with Aston Villa only five points off Liverpool and Tottenham another two points behind.
It is a decade since the top five have been so close at this stage.
“I think it’s a five-horse race because they have to believe, otherwise why bother? It is a hell of a race, it is a really good race. It feels like it’s all falling into place for Manchester City though,” said Chris Sutton, who won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers.
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, who played for Manchester City and Aston Villa, added: “You have to mention Villa as well in the title race. But in my opinion it’s a three-horse race.”
Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday could prove to be a big moment, with leaders Liverpool, who could have moved eight points above the Gunners, suffering a first domestic defeat since September.
“The Liverpool result was a perfect result for Manchester City,” said Given. “It’s up to them to prove why they are champions and why they will be champions again. I am sure they will go on to win the league.”
Things are starting to look ominous again for Manchester City’s title rivals.
On December 26, City — who had just been to the Club World Cup — were in fifth place, eight points behind leaders Liverpool.
But Pep Guardiola’s side, who have made a reputation of long winning runs after Christmas even after shaky starts, have won nine games in a row in all competitions. They will go top on Saturday — for a few hours at least — if they beat Everton, before Liverpool host Burnley.
“I’m just trying to recover the people and prepare for Everton. I never think about the run, just about winning the next game,” said Guardiola.
Star players Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland, both back from injury, set up two of hat-trick hero Phil Foden’s three goals at Brentford.
“We have to take it game by game and not get too far ahead of ourselves. Liverpool and Arsenal are pushing us,” Foden told BBC Sport.
“It’s important for him [Haaland] and Kev [De Bruyne] to be back. They’re probably our most important players.”
Sutton continued: “We all think the same thing, now that the big guns are back. We see them going on incredible runs every year and thinking they will probably do that again.”
This is the 10th time the top three have been separated by only two points 23 or more games into the season.
In 2013-14, the season Manchester City won their first Premier League title, only two points separated Liverpool, City and Chelsea after the penultimate weekend. That was also the last season the team in fifth were within seven points of the top with 15 games to go.
Of Guardiola’s five title-winning seasons in England, only last season did they have fewer than the 49 points they currently have after 22 games.