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Scandal-hit Manchester City capitalised on Arsenal’s hiccup at Brentford to close the gap on the Gunners to within three points at the top of the Premier League table.

Elsewhere, the pressure ramped up on Antonio Conte after Tottenham were thumped at Leicester while time ran out for Nathan Jones, whose short reign at Southampton ended a day after defeat to 10-man Wolves.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at five things we learned from the weekend’s action.

City turn up the heat on Arsenal

A few days on from City being charged with more than 100 alleged financial breaches by the Premier League, it would have been understandable if the off-field bombshell had an impact on the pitch. But there was none of it as City motored into a 3-0 half-time lead against Aston Villa before ultimately coasting to a 3-1 win that moves them three points behind Arsenal. The league leaders were held by Brentford on Saturday and must regroup for Wednesday’s mouth-watering visit of Pep Guardiola’s side, the result of which may go a long way in deciding where the title is heading this season.

No stopping Rashford

Since the World Cup, Marcus Rashford has hit the biggest purple patch of his career with 13 goals in 15 matches. His latest strike at Elland Road came when United were not at their best in a second fixture against Leeds in a week. But as the hosts started to tire, Rashford headed United in front before they secured a 2-0 victory to cement themselves in third – five points ahead of fourth-placed Newcastle. They are only five points adrift of Arsenal as well. Could they mount a title challenge? It seems Rashford continuing his red-hot form is essential if they are to catch and overtake Arsenal and City.

One step forward, two back for Spurs

Antonio Conte was back in the Tottenham dugout - but it was far from a happy return (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Antonio Conte was back in the Tottenham dugout – but it was far from a happy return (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Optimism was back at Tottenham after last week’s win over Manchester City but, with Antonio Conte back in the dugout after gallbladder surgery, they were swiftly brought back down to earth in the Midlands. After going ahead at the King Power Stadium, Tottenham dipped alarmingly and slumped to a 4-1 loss, taking them back to square one. Compounding the latest setback is a knee injury to Rodrigo Bentancur, who needed oxygen as he was treated for a knee injury. While Spurs are tight-lipped about his condition, there were reports on Sunday evening that the Uruguayan could miss the rest of the season.

Draws hindering goal-shy Newcastle

Newcastle have drawn half of their Premier League games this season (Steven Paston/PA)

Newcastle have drawn half of their Premier League games this season (Steven Paston/PA)

Since putting three past Leicester on Boxing Day, Newcastle have managed as many goals in their half-a-dozen top-flight fixtures since then. While they have only lost once and boast the stingiest defence in the league this season, they have now drawn half of their 22 fixtures and a 1-1 result at relegation-threatened Bournemouth was the fifth stalemate in the Magpies’ last six matches. This is not panic stations as they remain on course to finish in the European places and exceed all expectations from a few months ago but they have shown a couple of signs in recent weeks of running out of steam.

Saints run out of patience

Southampton have sacked Nathan Jones (John Walton/PA)

Southampton have sacked Nathan Jones (John Walton/PA)

After 70 minutes against Wolves, Southampton boasted a 1-0 lead and their opponents were down to 10 men – with Mario Lemina dismissed before the half hour. But Wolves’ against-the-odds 2-1 win proved the final straw for the Southampton hierarchy as Nathan Jones’ tenure, which must rank as one of the worst in the Premier League era after just 95 days in the hotseat, was ended. Jones signed a three-and-a-half-year deal in November but lost eight of his nine league matches and nine in 14 in all competitions, and leaves with the south coast club bottom of the table.

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