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Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

Manchester City's shock 2-1 defeat to Wolves leaves the Premier League's top six separated by just three points.

Aston Villa’s English striker #11 Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal with teammate Aston Villa’s French midfielder #44 Boubacar Kamara (C) and Aston Villa’s Scottish midfielder #07 John McGinn during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 30, 2023. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP) /

Manchester City’s shock 2-1 defeat to Wolves leaves the Premier League’s top six separated by just three points.

Tottenham took full advantage of City’s first slip-up of the season to close within one point of the lead, but had luck and poor officiating on their side in a controversial 2-1 win over nine-man Liverpool.

Arsenal also closed on City ahead of their showdown next weekend by cruising to a 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

Aston Villa moved ahead of Brighton into fifth by thrashing the Seagulls 6-1.

But it was another miserable weekend for Manchester United, who slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend:

VAR costs luckless Liverpool
Referees’ body PGMOL was forced into a swift apology following full-time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after VAR failed to intervene and award a Liverpool goal in the first-half.

The Reds had already lost Curtis Jones to an early red card when Luis Diaz sped in behind and smashed low and hard into the far corner of the Spurs net.

Diaz was flagged offside on the field but replays quickly showed the Colombian had been played on by Cristian Romero.

To compound Liverpool’s anger, Spurs soon took the lead through Son Heung-min.

Jurgen Klopp’s men battled back to level with 10 men through Cody Gakpo, then survived 25 minutes with nine after Diogo Jota also saw red.

But their misfortune was rounded off in the 96th minute when Joel Matip sliced Pedro Porro’s cross into the top corner of his own net to hand Tottenham victory.

“I never saw a game like this with the most unfair circumstances, crazy decisions,” said Klopp.

Villa target top four
Brighton started the weekend in third but dreams of the Seagulls reaching the Champions League for the first time were given a huge reality check at Villa Park.

Ollie Watkins became the first Villa player to score two hat-tricks in one season for 47 years.

The England striker is just one of many Villa players transformed since the arrival of Unai Emery.

Only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah have been involved in more goals and assists in the Premier League than Watkins’ 24 since Emery took charge a year ago.

Emery led Villa back into Europe for the first time in 13 years last season and captain John McGinn now has his sights set on bringing Champions League football to Villa Park.

“Hopefully we can try and disrupt that top four, top six. It is not going to be easy, but why not?.

“Why can’t we challenge them and do what Newcastle did last season?”

More Man Utd misery
As the top six bunch together, United slipped down to 10th with their fourth defeat in seven league games.

The Red Devils are now off to their worst ever start in the Premier League era.

It was a familiar story for Erik ten Hag’s men as a series of chances were squandered at Old Trafford after Joachim Andersen’s stunning strike had given Palace the lead.

“We were, many times, close and then you have to be clinical, concentrated and be sharp,” said Ten Hag.

United had been on an impressive 31-game unbeaten run at home in all competitions prior to Brighton’s success at the Theatre of Dreams.

But the warning signs had been there in victories over Wolves and Nottingham Forest earlier this season when United were far from convincing.

Ten Hag is battling a mounting injury list but he accepted there can be “no excuses” for such a run of form that has already jeopardised their chances of even climbing back into the top four.