Alan Shearer column: ‘Beating Man City is great for Arsenal and Premier League title race’

Alan Shearer column

To finally beat Manchester City in the Premier League was great for Arsenal and their manager Mikel Arteta, and it is also good for the title race.

I still think it will just be City and the Gunners battling it out come the end of the season but for now only three points separate the top four, which gives all of them hope.

The big surprise is seeing Tottenham lead the way as we head into the international break, but they are flying under new boss Ange Postecoglou and have picked up some excellent results.

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League table: 1st Tottenham, 2nd Arsenal, 3rd Man City, 4th Liverpool, 5th Aston Villa & 6th Brighton

I’m not sure how long Spurs will spend at the summit but the fact they don’t have any European football this season will definitely help their chances of staying in the top four.

It means they won’t face the same demands on their squad as many of their rivals who are in Europe, in terms of the quality and depth that you need to compete in both.

We saw how much the same situation helped Newcastle make it into the Champions League places last season, and now it can benefit Spurs too.

At some stage, I think they will miss Harry Kane and the points he earned them with the goals he scored when they were not playing well, but they are certainly not having any problems winning without him at the moment.

Kane’s departure to Bayern Munich has given their other attacking players the opportunity to step up and do their part, and their new signings like midfielder James Maddison and defender Micky van de Ven have been superb.

So far, Liverpool are right up there as well, but again I am not convinced they will sustain a title challenge.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are always going to score goals because of the attacking players that they have, but I still have my doubts about them defensively.

The Reds are exciting to watch when they come forward but we saw again in their draw with Brighton that they concede too easily – there is something missing at the back.

I know Ibrahima Konate will be back from injury soon, which will help, but teams seem to be able to play through them quite easily and they just don’t look solid enough.

‘A big win without playing well’

The way I look at it, if you finish above City, you will win the league – and Arsenal are the team who look most capable of doing that this season and ending their dominance.

Sunday’s win over the defending champions was a huge result for the Gunners’ belief and confidence, but the best sign of where they are at is that they did it without playing particularly well.

What Mikel Arteta’s side did do throughout, however, was defend extremely well.

After having a couple of chances in the opening minutes, City did not get another sniff and I’ve not seen many teams keep them that quiet in recent years.

Arteta’s substitutes made a huge difference, too – all of them made an impact, one of them [Kai Havertz] made their winning goal, and another [Gabriel Martinelli] scored it.

You could already see Arsenal’s squad is stronger now than it was last season, but nothing shows it more than sending someone on to change a big game like that.

Arsenal didn’t create much either before they scored but they stuck together and were solid. When you do that, you always give yourself a chance.

Yes, they got a bit of luck with the deflection off Nathan Ake for their goal but Arteta will say they absolutely deserved their win and I don’t think anyone could argue with that – City simply did not do enough.

This was their third defeat in three games without Rodri, who was completing his suspension for his red card against Nottingham Forest last month, and they definitely seemed more cautious without him.

We are used to seeing City push on with the ball home or away, whoever the opposition, but that just didn’t seem to happen this time. They didn’t play well, and paid the price.

‘Man Utd are not as good as I thought they are’

This is just a blip for City, and it won’t be long until they are back to their best.

I am not convinced the same applies to their neighbours Manchester United, who fought back brilliantly to beat Brentford on Saturday but continue to struggle for any kind of consistent form.

There is still time for Erik ten Hag’s side to find their feet but I think there are deeper-rooted problems at the club, which will take time to iron out.

Before the season started, I backed United to make the top four again, but they are just not as good as I thought they would be – at least not yet.

Late comebacks like the one they produced against Brentford can be a turning point in a team’s season, but I don’t think that will be the case for United.

I need to see more evidence than that to suggest that they are back, and I haven’t seen anywhere near enough from their performances all season to think they can challenge for the top four.

Newcastle have recovered well from tough start

Newcastle also have got some ground to make up on the leading pack, but overall I am pretty pleased with the start they have made.

I always thought it would be tough for them to get into the Champions League places again after finishing fourth last time, and they have had to deal with a difficult run of early games.

They lost three in a row to City, Liverpool and Brighton, which was a blow, but it was the manner of the home defeat to the Reds that was the most damaging – losing so late, and to 10 men.

Since then, though, they have recovered well and got some great results in the Premier League despite having key players like Sven Botman, Joelinton and Callum Wilson out injured.

On top of that, their performances in their two games in the Champions League have been phenomenal.

Yes, they might have got a bit lucky in Milan but there was nothing fortunate about the way they beat Paris St-Germain last week – it was an amazing game, one of the best I have been to.

Nights like that lift the whole club and they are exactly what they worked so hard for last year.

Following that up against West Ham on Sunday was always going to be tough, and they struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, which was understandable.

After that, though, they showed a great reaction and will feel they should have won it. The only disappointing part of their whole week was seeing West Ham equalise so late on.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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